By Samuel Thimothy, VP at OneIMS.com, an inbound marketing agency, and co-founder of Clickx.io, the digital marketing intelligence platform.
As a business owner, you are the chef in your own restaurant. Nobody would expect you to know the secret of ideal lasagna if you only served Japanese fare. The same applies to marketing. You don’t have to know every marketing tactic out there, but if you want to become the best in your niche, you have to be aware of the little things that make a big difference.
The marketing tactics below are often used interchangeably, or one is preferred over the other. However, there are some key differences, and you need to know them before you start building an online and offline presence.
Brand awareness or brand recognition?
They aren’t exactly the same. When the brand has high recognition, it means that your target audience can easily “recognize” it among the rest. A brand with high recognition will be the first thing that a customer thinks of when they’re asked about a product category. It will be their “top of mind” association.
Some brands with extremely high recognition can become associated with the entire product category. Think about Google, Xerox, Bubble Wrap, Kleenex. These names have become so popular that they literally replaced the entire class of products. Brand recognition emphasizes your uniqueness from the outside. It’s about your visual imagery, brand voice, and so on, whereas awareness is what helps you build a stronger bond with your customers. Brand-aware customers won’t just know who you are and what you do, they’ll immediately know your product or service is the best one to fulfill their need.
Try this: Build a strategy that ties recognition and awareness together to attract high-value prospects and customers.
Sales activation or brand building?
Sales activation and brand building are both equally important for any business, but since they share the same goal, they are often confused or one is favored over the other. Namely, companies may go for instant sales activation instead of the lengthy brand-building process, hoping that it will bring faster results. And it probably will, but the benefits are also going to be very short-lived. You’re holding yourself back from sustainable growth if you go all-in with sales activation tactics while ignoring brand building.
However, the market never stays the same. Over-reliance on either of them is a bad strategy in the long-term, and here’s why. During economic downturns, companies tend to stick with activation to push their products to as many customers as possible. They are relentlessly promoting special offers, running digital campaigns and cutting prices. But as the market gets better and consumers have more disposable income, they gravitate toward more established products — the ones that took time to build their brand. If you ignore one technique, you’re assuming that the market will be steady, which has never happened and never will. By selling more through the sales activation, you may win a battle, but you can lose the war.
Try this: Combine them! Use the sales activation when the market is not in a good shape, but keep working on building a strong brand at the same time.
Brand preference or brand insistence?
Every business is going after brand loyalty, but there are actually several levels to it. The first one is brand recognition, the second one is a brand preference, and that’s when most companies stop trying. They think they have achieved the most whereas there’s still a ways to go because the highest degree of customer loyalty is brand insistence. When a customer prefers one brand over another, they will buy that brand if it’s available. But with brand insistence, they will accept no other. It’s either their favorite brand or nothing at all.
One of the best examples of companies that managed to achieve brand insistence is Apple. Mac users won’t even talk about the positive features of a PC, and they’ll probably try everything Apple has to offer. The brand is perceived as all-around superior, even though it locks the user in their ecosystem urging them to buy more. Plus, some alternatives on the market offer more benefits while costing less, but nobody in the tech space was able to do a better job than Apple in terms of brand loyalty.
Try this: Aim high! Don’t stop at brand recognition or preference and keep exceeding your customers’ expectations.
Marketing is complex, but if there’s one lesson every brand has to learn, it’s that there’s no quick fix. While some tactics may bring you some short-term gains, they will come back at you in the long run. Whatever you do, remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.