Marketing is all about becoming someone worth of interest, building awareness, making a connection, and earning trust from your target audience. Let's talk about the second of these elements: building awareness for you and your offerings.
In the consulting industry, many marketing professionals prefer the term earning visibility. But visibility is sometimes linked to other different terms and activities such as reach, lead generation, brand awareness. It all comes down to semantics.
The main objective is clear: Get in front of your ideal clients so they know you exist.
People can't connect with you if they don't know you exist. People can't engage in a sales conversation if they don't know you exist. People can't trust you if they don't know you exist.
What do you need to catch your prospects' attention (build awareness)?
- Create a message that communicates why you are worthy of their interest.
- Get that message in front of them.
If you've worked on your positioning - which is the very first item of every marketing strategy - it should be fairly easy to communicate why you are relevant. This is done with a declaration of focus, such as your value proposition or online website, where you state that you are a specialist in your prospects' world.
Getting that message in front of them is part of the job of your go-to-market plan. You will need to test and focus on a few selected channels, where your clients are. And you will also need to experiment with different tactics, or ways to get that job done.
Here are some examples:
- Channels: Email, LinkedIn, Twitter, niche online communities, industry associations, online podcasts.
- Tactics: Paid social media advertising, SEO, public speaking, cold outbound campaigns, scanning for RFPs and connecting directly with the buyer.
There are a lot of channels, and a lot more tactics, for you to experiment with. But there's nothing you can do about it, right? If you want to adopt a systematic approach, you would need to:
- Brainstorm every single combination of channel + tactic;
- Run cheap traction tests in the ones that seem most promising;
- Only focus on the 1-2 that really move the needle for your business.
Sounds simple, but chances are you have several questions in your mind. "How do I know which channels and tactics are most promising? Do you just run small tests on all of the combinations?"
It depends on your offerings and positioning, but my rule of thumb is that you need at least 3 months of testing to get reliable results. If we narrow the possibilities down to 10, the whole testing phase would take... 30 months.
Not realistic. It's not reasonable to invest that much time only to test ideas. Especially when there are new channels and tactics popping up every few months.
The good news is you can take a huge shortcut, narrowing down the promising possibilities to just 3-5 within a few weeks. How? It's called customer research.
If you do it right (talking to the right people, asking the right questions, digging in deep enough), your target audience will give you the answers. When you discover the blogs, communities, social media platforms, podcasts, events your ideal clients engage with, the promising ideas to build awareness become obvious.
The best way to get in front of your prospects is to understand what their world looks like. If you have a narrow positioning but are struggling to get yourself noticed, it's time to do some research.