In recent years, between the fallout from the pandemic and taxpayers' reluctance to support the arts, businesses in the arts and culture industries have been struggling to remain afloat. Many organizations are competing for customers' and patrons' increasingly squeezed time and money. Getting the attention your organization needs in order just to stay viable, let alone cutting-edge, is becoming an increasing challenge.
It’s also even more necessary than ever to retain the new customers and clients you gain. Research shows that an annual increase of just 1% in customer retention can equate to a 20% increase in annual revenue. They buy from you once, because they know of you, then when you take good care of them, they keep buying without thinking about it or bothering to look elsewhere.
One way your organization can increase your slice of that attention pie is through marketing initiatives that grow and improve brand awareness. As the first step in your marketing strategy, increasing brand awareness in the minds of your target audience helps move them across the line from “trust” to “loyalty”. Here are eight reliable, proven methods you can use to increase your brand awareness.
1 - Content marketing
One of the most effective ways to develop brand awareness campaigns is through strategic content marketing: creating, sharing and repurposing online material and assets such as blog posts, infographics, images, and videos. Creating and sharing consistent, authentic content that is highly relevant, valuable and interesting to your target audience helps build trust and familiarity between them and your organization.
The best content is education-based, which means you solve typical problems experienced by people in your market. This builds credibility and authority for your organization and helps you stay top of mind in your target audience.
In addition, content marketing allows you to control the narrative about your brand and your brand message. You can use various forms of content to highlight your brand’s unique selling points and tell customers and prospects what your brand stands for. These intentional content marketing efforts also help boost SEO efforts by generating inbound links and increasing brand mentions, which can help your website rank higher in search engine results pages.
According to a Content Marketing Institute survey, these were the best-performing B2B content assets in 2021, with percentage of respondents:
- virtual events/webinars/online courses - 58%
- research reports - 48%
- short articles/posts (fewer than 3,000 words) - 48%
- e-books, white papers - 47%
- case studies - 39%
- videos - 38%
- in-person events - 37%
- long articles/posts (more than 3,000 words) - 32%
- infographics/charts/data viz/3D models - 27%
- live streaming content - 25%
- podcasts - 23%
- print magazines or books - 22%
2 - Social media for creatives
Another excellent way creative organizations can increase brand awareness is through social media marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer businesses an opportunity to reach a large audience of potential customers with little to no cost. Through social media, you can increase brand recognition - and rank higher in search results - by sharing your content, interacting with customers and prospects, and promoting your brand.
When using social media to help the public become more aware of your brand, it’s important to post high-quality, engaging content that is relevant to your target audience. This is a long-term strategy, so you should also make sure to post regularly, be responsive to comments and questions, and use hashtags and other features to make your content more discoverable. In addition, you can use paid social media advertising to reach an even larger audience and further boost your brand awareness efforts.
- In January 2022, there were 3.96 billion total social media users across all platforms
- The average person typically scrolls through 7 different social networks per month
- Adults typically spend 95 minutes a day on social media
- TikTok has been growing by leaps and bounds in the US over the last two years: 105% user growth rate over that time
- In contrast, Facebook activity has slowed down from 39 minutes a day in 2017 to 33 minutes in 2022
- Consumers are 6 times more likely to purchase something from a product page that includes images from social media. This includes user-generated content
- Social media users trust peer recommendations (37%) over celebrity recommendations (7%)
3 - Strong brand personality
Your brand’s personality is the way it is perceived by others and plays a big role in shaping customer relationships. An older but still valuable study from Harvard Business School explains that 95% of our decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind. In other words, logic is far less important than emotions and feelings.
It’s important to create a brand personality that is relatable, consistent, and authentic. A strong brand personality can make your business more memorable and help you stand out from the competition.
Your brand personality describes the human characteristics of your brand: happy, professional, friendly, youthful, passionate, energetic, edgy, etc. Your brand identity, however, is different; it's how you demonstrate your personality through your logo, color scheme, and tone of voice.
To create a strong brand personality, start by determining the values that are important to your business. Then communicate these values in all of your marketing materials, from your website and social media posts to your email newsletters and print ads. It’s also important to use a consistent voice and tone across all channels. And finally, make sure that the people who represent your brand in person (such as employees and salespeople) are aligned with your brand’s personality as well.
4 - Referral programs
A referral program is a great way to increase brand awareness and grow your customer base. When customers refer your business to their friends and family, they’re effectively giving your brand a personal endorsement.
According to a white paper:
- 49% of US consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness
- Customers are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend
- The lifetime value of referred customers is 16% higher, on average, than that of a non-referred customer
To create a successful referral program, start by offering an incentive that is valuable to your target customers. This could be a discount, free shipping, free trial, or a free product. Then make it easy for customers to refer your business by providing them with referral links, social media sharing buttons, and email templates. Finally, track your results and adjust your program as needed to ensure continued success.
|Connect with other top arts and culture leaders to build your brand. Join Rolling Stone Culture Council.
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5 - Contests and giveaways
People love free stuff, which is why contests and giveaways are an effective way to increase brand awareness. When customers have a chance to win something, they’re more likely to pay attention to your brand and share it with their friends and followers.
Not sure it's worth the effort to administer contests and giveaways? Think about these statistics:
- An average of over 345 new customers are acquired through contests for the companies that use them (source)
- Instagram accounts that hold contests grow their followers 70% faster on average than accounts that don't hold contests (source)
- Contest emails have an average open rate of 8%, which is 5.5% more than most other email marketing campaigns (source)
- Contest CTAs have a 3.73 higher conversion rate compared to other CTAs (source)
To run a successful contest or giveaway, start by choosing a prize that is relevant to your target customers. Then promote your contest through your website, social media channels, and email list. And make sure to choose a hashtag that is easy to remember and use. Finally, track your results so you can measure the success of your campaign and tweak it the next time you run a contest.
6 - Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Corporate responsibility is a business necessity in today's markets. It's not just the right thing to do - which it is; it's also a good business decision. According to the 2017 Cone Communications CSR Study:
- 79% of US consumers expect businesses to continue improving their CSR efforts
- 63% are hopeful business will take the lead to drive social and environmental change
- 71% of millennials expect businesses to lead such change
- 70% of Americans believe companies have an obligation to take actions to improve such issues even if they aren't relevant to everyday business
- 87% say they would purchase from a company because it advocates for a cause they care about
To get started, choose a cause that is important to your business and make sure it aligns with your brand values. Then find opportunities to get involved, such as sponsoring a local event, volunteering your time, or making donations based on a percentage of sales. Remember to promote your community involvement through your website and social media channels.
Actions speak louder than words. When you get personally involved in your community you build brand awareness, build trust with a variety of community constituents, improve employee morale, attract local talent, and foster a culture of collaboration, both internally, and externally with other organizations. You're letting potential customers and clients know you care about more than just making a profit.
7 - Business partnerships
Speaking of collaboration, one of the best ways to help your market recognize your brand is to form partnerships with other businesses. There are a variety of ways to partner with another small business or organization, including: strategic partnerships, B2B partners, affiliates, influencers, app integrations, product development, co-marketing, and more. Almost anything you can do to grow and nurture a profitable organization can be done with strategic partners.
When you team up with another organization to share your product or service, you can reach a whole new audience and tap into their customer base. You can also save money on marketing and advertising costs, development costs, and more, by sharing resources, combining skill sets, and being collaboratively creative.
A commissioned global study conducted by Forrester Consulting surveyed 454 decision makers around the world and found that when an organization has "best-in-class" partnerships in place:
- partnerships contribute to 28% of overall company revenues
- partnership programs boost both customer acquisition and retention
- leaders are 4x more likely (than companies with less mature partnerships) to strongly agree that partnerships are very important to their competitive advantage
- see 2x faster revenue growth compared to companies with less mature partnership programs
- are 5x more likely to exceed expectations on a variety of business metrics
- 76% say the partnership channel is key to delivering on the company's revenue goals
- 49% say they have an increase in revenue from partnerships
- 45% say partnerships increase their brand awareness
- 38% say partnerships improve customer retention
- 36% say partnerships increase customer lifetime value
To find the right partner, look for organizations that complement your business. For example, if your organization works in an eco-friendly space, you could partner with brands that emphasize sustainability.
Joining professional networking organizations, like Rolling Stone Culture Council, is a great way to meet potential partners in a variety of industries.
Once you’ve made a list of potential partners, reach out and see if they’d be interested in working together. Make sure it's a win-win-win (both partners plus the customers/clients).
8 - Promote positive customer reviews
Positive customer reviews are essential for increasing brand awareness and building trust. "Social proof" is one of Robert Cialdini's six principles of influence. People want to feel validated in their choices based on what others are doing. Happy customers are great influencers. Here's why, according to a Bright Local study:
- In 2021 77% of consumers "always" or "regularly" read reviews when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020)
- 67% say they will consider leaving a review for a positive experience, and 40% will consider leaving a review for a negative experience
- 89% of consumers are "highly" or "fairly" likely to use a business that responds to all its online reviews
- In 2020 63% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses, and in 2021 that number jumped to 81%
How to use these reviews?
- Put them on your landing pages
- Include them in your marketing emails
- Answer as many reviews as possible, and show that you are addressing problems with low-star reviews
- Use reviews in your paid ads
- Incorporate reviews on your blog
- Put reviews next to a CTA
- Turn a good review into a customer success story
- Share reviews on social media
Brand familiarity is key to developing trust and loyalty among your audience. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can go about increasing brand awareness for your arts and culture organization. Try implementing some of the strategies we’ve outlined in this article and watch as your audience grows steadily more familiar with who you are and what you do. What has been your experience with growing brand awareness?