Don't Wait to Prioritize Brand Awareness -- Act Now

In 2023, CMOs worldwide expect to spend 9.1% of company revenues on marketing compared with 9.5% in 2022, and down from 12.1% in 2016, according to data from Gartner. 

With decreased budgets, the need for immediate results has led too many marketers down a path that prioritizes only performance media tactics over brand-building tactics and campaigns. This is often short-sighted and favors a buy-now message that does not develop a meaningful emotional connection with the consumer.

According to Morning Consult, 77% of Gen Z consumers are willing to try new brands in most categories, the highest share of any generation. But in an environment where there are plenty of choices, consumers must be repeatedly told why they should shop a brand.

So, how do brands remain top of mind, move fast enough to keep pace with consumers’ shifting expectations, and stay true to what made them beloved in the first place? It starts with a solid foundation.

Prioritize brand tactics within your budget.   Due to flat or decreased marketing budgets, you’ll need to shift where and how your marketing budget is spent. You should have a portion allocated to awareness tactics. These efforts should integrate paid media, events, public relations, and partnerships, and may flex into one area over another based on your brand's priorities.



While you may optimize awareness campaigns based on media metrics such as reach and engagement, it is important to evaluate as part of your marketing reporting KPIs that are tied more closely to business outcomes. Try assessing CAC:LTV ratio, paid vs. organic traffic mix over time, and social sentiment.

Develop a data framework. Consumer behavior is changing at lightning speed, and we recommend looking holistically at your customer data framework at a minimum every six months to stay relevant. When planning a brand campaign, ground yourself in your existing customer data and the ideal future customer profile. Once you have clear audience segmentation, you will be able to guide future decisions on where to invest and what to message to each respective customer segment.

Prioritize customer values. With a clear understanding of your customer at the center of decision-making, develop content that communicates your brand’s value proposition and ties to your customer’s values. It sounds simple, but it’s not. We often see brands skipping over this critical step in developing a solid brand awareness strategy.

Test, learn, iterate, and RE-INVEST. Brand awareness campaigns are not silver bullets -- but with an aligned group of stakeholders and the ability to assess performance, evolution is possible. Think of your brand awareness strategy as “always on,” with key campaigns activated throughout the year.

If one doesn’t succeed, forge ahead with a deeper understanding and ability to pivot strategy. We often see brands reallocate these funds for ROAS-driven marketing campaigns. Each time you stop, the work gets harder as your brand loses momentum. Be transparent with the results and keep going.

Igniting meaningful growth for brands in today’s crowded marketplace requires consistently communicating your brand value proposition to consumers. It demands a re-prioritization of marketing budgets to brand awareness tactics and campaigns, which should be rooted in deep customer understanding, communicate a clear value proposition, and be evaluated rigorously to drive future optimization.

2 comments about "Don't Wait to Prioritize Brand Awareness -- Act Now".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, October 20, 2023 at 4:15 p.m.

    What are your thoughts on how to deal with brand C-suite types that demand transactional results, such as moving the sales needle?

  2. Tierney Wilson from January Consulting replied, October 23, 2023 at 10:42 p.m.

    The reality of any marketing leader right now is that they must both drive short term wins and long term growth. It is a balancing act for sure, especially with executives who are driving to the next board meeting or earnings call.

    Ultimately, the key is to find a balance between the immediate need for transactional results and the long-term value of brand building. This balance should align with your organization's overall strategic goals. By demonstrating how both aspects can coexist and complement each other, you can work towards gaining the support of C-suite executives for a well-rounded marketing strategy.

    I've seen the below approach work well when dealing with an executive who doesn’t inherently see the value of brand marketing:  

    Define clear metrics upfront: Before launching any campaign, make sure you do the work of educating stakeholders on expected KPIs. If you are aligned on the KPIs prior to launching a campaign, then there shouldn’t be any surprises on what is reported on in campaign analysis.

    Set Realistic Timeframes: Setting realistic expectations and timelines is crucial. If your brand has primarily been performance media focused, then offer a phased approach that includes short-term sales-driven tactics alongside long-term brand-building strategies.

    Pilot Projects: Suggest running pilot projects or campaigns to demonstrate the potential of brand-building initiatives. These pilots can show how an improved brand image can lead to better conversion rates, customer loyalty, and ultimately, higher sales. Use these examples to garner support for ongoing brand efforts.

    Alignment on Customer Journey: Emphasize that the customer journey, now more than ever, involves multiple touchpoints. While transactional efforts may capture customers at the point of sale, brand awareness influences decisions made before and after that point. If all else fails, ask executives to think about their own buying behaviors…rarely are those always linear.

    Data-Driven Insights: Invest in data and analytics that can clearly show the relationship between brand awareness and sales – this can be in the form of internal dashboards or 3rd party measurement tools such as incrementality testing tools. Demonstrating the impact of brand awareness on new customer traffic and conversion and repeat customer rates can be a powerful way to convince C-suite members of its importance.

    Continuous Communication: Maintain open and regular communication with C-suite executives. Provide updates on the progress of brand-building initiatives and their potential correlation to or impact on transactional results. 

    Flexibility and Adaptation: Be prepared to adapt strategies based on evolving market conditions and performance data. Flexibility can help meet short-term transactional goals while still maintaining a long-term brand vision.

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