Shelley Polansky BBB

Shelley Polansky, BBB President/CEO

As business activity returns to near normal, what can small businesses do to keep their offerings trending, buzzworthy or simply “popular?”

They can start by building brand awareness, so that customers recall or recognize their brand when considering making a purchase.

Brand awareness helps with brand recognition of things like logos and colors, and gives a competitive advantage, so that customers choose a particular product or service over others.

Increasing a brand’s presence takes time, however, since it requires multiple impressions for customers to remember a brand or company name. Employing tactics such as advertising and marketing help target new customers and build loyalty, but branding and gaining more of the market share go deeper than that.

To grow a business, try these few tips for increasing brand awareness. The first two directly align with the BBB Standards for Trust, or the principles that help create and maintain trust in business. The next six steps help spread the word about a business, while also adding value and increasing customer engagement from initial exposure to the point of purchase.

Be transparent

Today’s customers are more concerned about what’s in products and how they’re made, so offer those details in social media posts and on packaging, giving customers the information they want in one place.

Label Insight finds that 94% of consumers are more likely to show brand loyalty if the brand is completely transparent, and 73% will pay more for the brand’s products, according to its Transparency ROI Study of 2,000 consumers. That’s because they see the products as having more value.

The survey also found that 81% of consumers will consider buying a business’s other products if transparency is the reason they switched brands.

Be trustworthy

Customers have many choices when it comes to making a purchase. They rely on their own research and others’ opinions to help make their decisions, opting for companies that are trustworthy and have integrity.

As they shop, they want to know what they’re buying is of high quality and won’t fall apart in a couple of months. They want positive interactions – the business treats them well, makes customer service a priority and keeps their personal data safe.

Engage in social media

Social media is one way for a business to reach its target audience, introduce the company and explain what it’s about through posts, blogs, podcasts and infographics. Start by defining the purpose of the business and how it offers better value than its competitors – what is it that makes the business unique and attractive?

Be sure posts feature content users actually want to see and interact with instead of a list of details about a product or service, which can look more like an ad. Talk about the employees behind the brand, the story of the company’s founding, how the first product idea came about and the company’s latest news. Regularly publish new content to give the audience a reason to return to the business’s website or check in on its social media outlets. Also, be interactive by inquiring about customer needs and retweeting or sharing other relevant content.

Send targeted emails

Engage in email marketing to share exclusive deals with target customers, so that they feel special for being part of a company’s branding.

Encourage customers to sign up for coupons and discounts, as well as access to exclusive educational articles or videos on aspects of the business or its products and services. Send emails for birthdays, the holidays and events like one-year subscription anniversaries, rewarding customers for their loyalty with a discount or gift card.

Offer free giveaways

Target key customers through free offerings. Give something small to entice them to want to experience more of what the business has to offer.

Make the giveaways easy for customers to share with their friends and families, helping increase awareness of the brand and grow the subscriber base. Also, make sure the giveaways are limited to create a sense of urgency and to make them seem more valuable than if they were offered in abundance.

Include branded videos

A HubSpot survey of more than 3,000 consumers finds they prefer video over other types of content, followed by interactive articles and social media postings. Companies that cater to millennials especially will want to focus on video.

To do this, a company can develop videos that engage with customers while they’re visiting the website or as a way to “meet” them in real time, helping them understand the qualities of the offerings. This personalizes the shopping experience with more memorable content and details beyond a simple photo or post.

Run digital ads

Pay for digital ads where key customers spend their time online to keep the advertising budget as targeted as possible. Businesses can track and measure the performance of the ads to see where they’re gaining traction, particularly with messages and calls-to-action, and which offerings have the most engagement.

Don’t forget customer service

Customers become repeat customers when they love the customer service they receive and appreciate how the company interacts with them.

To make interactions positive, give service that’s personable, answer customer questions, respond quickly to issues and ask for feedback. This lets customers know the business is aware of their unique needs, cares about them and wants to earn not just their business but their trust.

Brand awareness adds value to a brand, making a company’s products and services stand out just because they’re offered by that brand. Once customers have brand awareness, they immediately recognize the brand, seek it out to make a purchase and prefer it over other similar brands – the result: brand loyalty and a desire to share the buzz.

Shelley Polansky is president/CEO of BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming.

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