Brand Awareness: Spending Money to Make Money

“If you don’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense.”
– DJ Quik

Making money is important to every business, but the almighty dollar holds even more importance to the average small business owner. The truth of the matter is that most small business owners may only be 1-2 rough months from going belly up and needing to shut down. Big businesses or corporations on the other hand have built up enough of a safety net to protect themselves against things like that, so that even in the face of the roughest economic situations they remain safe.

In reality, money not only protects you against bad circumstances but having a significant amount of money makes it much easier to make more money. We’ve all heard the sayings, “It takes money to make money” and “Making your 2nd million is much easier than making your 1st”. Both of these are true in almost every instance. The same is true when it comes to marketing & scaling a business.

Because their dollars are so important, most small business owners attempt to completely skip over the brand awareness stage of the marketing funnel. They want to go straight into selling products because they need the additional income to keep the business alive. While this is understandable, it’s simply not realistic when looking to grow and scale. In order to grow a business, you have to be able to grow your audience and expand your reach. In today’s day, there are sure to be numerous businesses that have services or sell products that are similar to yours. Expecting a user to see your advertising only one time and actually complete a conversion action is like hoping that you hit the lottery, sure it could happen but it’s very unlikely. You HAVE to get in front of that audience and make them familiar with what you offer.

Brand awareness campaigns are how this is accomplished. Rather than focusing on clicks to the websites and conversion actions such as sign-ups, purchases, or subscriptions, these campaigns focus on getting in front of your target audience multiple times and raising what is called ad recall. Ad recall, specifically on Meta technologies, is a metric that gives advertisers an idea of how many people would remember seeing their ad if they were asked about it within two days. Most of the largest businesses in America could classify most, if not all, of their advertising as brand awareness. This applies to companies such as Chanel, Versace, Tesla, Coke, Frito Lay, Progressive, and many more.

These campaigns seek to sink your product deeper and deeper into the subconscious mind of anyone who sees it. If we look at a company like Progressive, the majority of their advertising for the last decade has featured Flo. They’ve also fairly recently started a new campaign featuring Dr. Rick and how to not become your parents. These ads don’t translate into any direct return, but it’s almost certain that most of the people you know can recall those ads and the fact that they are ads for Progressive. This isn’t always valuable knowledge, but it surely is when it’s time for you to secure insurance for your home or automobile. That long run of memorable, yet almost imperceptible, advertising is much more effective than simply running an ad targeting specifically to convert. 

In the current times, a lot of brands accomplish the goal of generating awareness through the use of social media influencers. While some may think that influencers are new and unique to only social media, they are the method of brand awareness that’s been around the longest. Getting someone that everyone loves to watch to wear, use, or drive whatever you’re selling is bound to create a demand in the people that consistently see them. Athletes, musicians, politicians, and many other public figures have and will continue to be used to produce sales for companies for years to come.

Young Michael Jordan with Nike sneakers brand awareness campaign

One of the greatest examples that come to mind for me is Nike. The retail giant saw increases in sales from 1972 to 1984. During that time frame they went from just $3 million in sales to $919 million; however, in 1984 they also experienced their first earnings decline to the tune of about 29%. In 1985, Nike took a risk by signing a young man from North Carolina named Michael Jordan. The young MJ was exactly what they needed. A young guard who if he panned out the way they predicted would help recover those lost earnings and maybe even a little more if they were lucky. All they needed for him to do was perform well on the NBA courts and people would see him wearing Nikes and come out and buy their own pair of ‘Air Jordan’ sneakers.

The initial contract that was worked out initially would only cost Nike $500,000 over the span of 5 years. This was a major deal for the time, but of course, a business wants to minimize potential losses. To do so, Jordan was required to win Rookie of the Year, be an All-Star, or be able to sell at least $4 million worth of shoes over his first three seasons. With his amazing play and the help of the NBA levying heavy fines on him for the “banned” sneakers each game, Jordan far exceeded these goals and went on to sell $126 million worth of shoes in his rookie season. How many other deals, or better yet marketing campaigns, have worked out even remotely close to that return for Nike? Think about it: Even with roughly $100,000 in fines and $100,000 to MJ contractually, to do $126 million in sales is an astronomical return on investment.

While most brand awareness campaigns won’t result in this type of return, they still are ever important in taking your products into new markets and reaching new audiences. Even on smaller budgets, you can still put together a long-term strategy to continually increase sales and market share. The key here is that you have to be prepared for the long haul because that’s what it really takes to grow and scale. If you’re looking for an expert to help guide you and your business on increasing sales and growth, look no further than The Kool Source. Our skilled team has all of the skills necessary to make sure that you are well-positioned in your existing market and explore new and emerging markets that interest you. Give us a call to see how we can help you get things started in the right direction.


OJ Montgomery
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