In this article, we will explore various strategies that small businesses can employ to drive awareness in their local area. We will discuss the importance of understanding your target audience and utilising online and offline marketing tactics to reach and engage that audience.
The aim is to build your small business awareness and recognition, so when your audience is ready to buy they will look more favourably at your business. Ideally, they will then engage with you first ahead of the competition.
Defining Your Target
In our previous post, covering how to define a target audience, we discussed FOGS. These are the people who meet your target audience definition but are pre trigger (they are not prospects). Your small business awareness campaign should cover both prospects and FOGS.
As a small business with limited resources it is often best to focus awareness campaigns on prospects – If you can reach them. Prospects (triggered) will be easier to convert to a sale.
If FOGS are aware of your business they will also be easier to convert to a sale. But given they are not actively searching for a solution (but may do in future) you need to decide how much you can spend on FOGS awareness campaigns.
Fortunately, if your small business operates in a limited geographical area it makes the awareness building process easier (and cheaper). You have online and offline marketing tactics at your disposal, all you need to do is decide on the best mix.
Building Awareness – Online
To build awareness of your product or service using online tactics you have a range of options. Some are free (other than the time you invest), others have a cost.
If you are trying to build FOGS awareness you need to assume they stumble across you while online. By definition they are not actively looking for a product or service. Raising awareness can be done, but it is expensive.
Better to focus on prospects who might be researching what product or service can solve their problem (learners). Or, they may know what they need and are considering alternatives (shoppers).
By definition someone in learner mode is looking for information. Depending on their preference they might look for text, video or (to a lesser extent) audio. Typically they want answers to questions (how do I? What is?). When they ask those questions your small business needs to be there with the answers.
Where will learners look for information? Traditionally, It might be via a search engine (supported by SEO) , a social channel, an answer engine like Quora or a community like Reddit. More recently they might use communities like Discord, or if at work, possibly Slack. Now there is a new kid on the block ChatGPT. All channels require content in some form and creating content has a cost.
Shoppers are more likely to click on Ads (they are looking for a solution), or if they are looking for a local supplier it is probable they will use the Google My Business panel. It is true if they have some existing awareness of your business they might prefer your ad or listing over another but you need to weigh costs vs potential benefits.
If a learner comes across your content you have made them aware of your small business. It’s possible that they will move from one piece of your content to another but given the competition for attention the chances of that are low.
A lot of options to cover, so where should you focus? That decision depends on what resources you have, what you can do yourself and the time you have available. It depends on what channel your audience is most likely to use and what medium (text, video etc.) they prefer.
You can read more on potential channels, their advantages and disadvantages in our marketing tactics guide.
Creating Business Awareness – Offline
As with online tactics you need to decide on your audience (learner,shopper,FOGS) and what you are trying to achieve. If you run a small business focused on local customers we believe you can reach more FOGS, at a lower cost using offline tactics instead of online. Remember you can use offline tactics to drive your audience to your website (online).
Potential tactics include:
- Local press activity
- Banners and posters
Your location and signage impacts awareness. If you have a good location (plenty of footfall) it can be a big help.
Other options include direct mail or leaflets. To pick up those in market there is offline advertising opportunities in a wide range of publications. Just make sure you choose media that are relevant to your audience.
Offline marketing tactics deliver a better ROI than online for small business awareness campaigns, in our humble opinion. This can be complimented by Google My Business and perhaps Ads for those in the market. A website is also required to educate prospects about who you are and what you do. Deciding on how much you can spend on FOGS vs prospect awareness campaigns given the potential ROI from each is crucial.