Raising your profile in the marketplace, promoting awareness, branding, whatever you'd like to call it, can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your other marketing efforts. How should one go about it? How much of one's budget should one dedicate to it?
Marketing designed to raise your profile or increase awareness of your business includes things like calendars, event marketing, newsletter sponsorship, networking and other activities that primarily make your company name and image visible rather than promoting a specific product or offer. It doesn't have an instantaneous, at least not immediately trackable impact, so many businesses don't recognize it's value. If you ask a customer why they came in today or how they heard about you, they're not likely to say, "well, I saw your logo at the Fun Run and just decided to drop by." But these types of ads do have an impact on the effectiveness of your other ads.
A customer may report that they responded to an offer you placed in the paper. What they may not report, or even be aware of, is that they responded to your newspaper ad because they were familiar with the name or logo. They may not know where they've seen it before, but they have. Consumers are more likely to respond to companies that they've heard of before, than one they're seeing for the first time.
Awareness ads are usually targeted at general audiences. They don't require a tailor-made mailing list or a lot of demographic research. They can be as simple as a logo on a concert or event poster, or a business card ad in the homeowners association newsletter. Networking is another form of profile raising. The idea is to make it more likely that when your company name comes up in conversation, or someone sees one of your other ads they'll say or think "oh yeah, I've heard of those guys".
Think of profile raising or awarenss ads like adding gas treatment to your tank. You'll get more milage out of the rest of your marketing. A good rule of thumb might be around 20% of your ad budget, although it can be less if you use your imagination. A banner can be used again and again, as can car magnets and decals, shirts and hats. Link exchanges with other websites can often be had for free. Co-op marketing can give you wide exposure at a very low cost.
This part of your marketing tool kit can inspire people to seek more information and take a closer look at your other material. Of course you have to be ready to provide the more detailed info when they come looking for it. Have brochures and flyers on hand, ready to email, mail, or hand out upon request. Make sure your employees are up to date on your latest promotions and ready to answer questions.
Good marketing campaigns are like good songs. A nice mix of vague and specific, familiar and new, predictable and unexpected. Strike a chord with the marketplace. Draw them in with a catchy refrain and then give them the lyrics.