Marketing experts strive to create brand awareness. A company has brand awareness, for example, when someone who’s asked, “Have you heard of ACME Fancy Cars, which are manufactured in North Dakota?” replies with, “Yes, I have.”
But the most successful marketing efforts also achieve unaided awareness, which manifests when an individual who is asked about a category of products or services exhibits brand recall without any aids or prompts. In this case, if someone who’s asked, “What’s an American-made luxury car brand?” replies with, “ACME Fancy Cars,” that’s a clear sign that the company has achieved a degree of unaided awareness.
It’s hard to overestimate the value of unaided awareness. People seek out a product or service when they feel a need for it. So they think of the category—not the specific company—first. In other words, people don’t think, “I wonder what ACME Fancy Cars can do for me today.” Instead they think, “I’m contemplating the purchase of a luxury car that’s made in the USA. Which companies do I want to investigate?”
Obviously, any company can reap the benefits of unaided awareness, regardless of what product or service it offers. If you’re selling temporary staffing services, for example, think of what a high unaided-awareness score could do for your company. This industry is renowned for being highly competitive and as well as having an element of unpredictability when it comes to timing of the buying cycle. Companies that rank high in unaided awareness have a competitive edge in both sales and recruiting.
Imagine a mid-sized manufacturing company that has just received a second round of venture capital funding. The company is in high-growth mode and busily expanding into new markets. As the end of the year approaches, a key member of the accounting team resigns—and the company’s high activity level means that this position can’t remain unfilled for long.
The company’s well-established recruiting team is having a tough time keeping up with the organization’s rapid growth, however. After a quick assessment of the company’s resources and ability to find a suitable replacement quickly, the HR manager, Jane, decides to hire a temporary employee to help the company’s accounting department get through the end of the year.
Jane has been with the company since it started ten years ago, and although fifteen different staffing companies have been competing for her business during that time, she has never used an agency to fill either a temporary or direct-hire position. As a result, she hasn’t had the opportunity to build relationships with any staffing firms. Right now, she doesn’t have time to call several agencies and try to get a sense (from a phone call) which one can help her out. She wants to be able to reach out to one staffing firm—and have that firm meet her needs.
In other words, the company that gets the call is the one that comes to Jane’s mind when she asks, “What temporary staffing agency can send me a high-caliber accountant quickly?” And that agency comes to mind because it’s done a good job of staying top of mind and working hard to develop its unaided awareness.
The scenario above plays out countless times a day. Some companies are more adept than others at negotiating the path to unaided awareness. How do they do it? They know that staying on their current and potential clients’ radar is key: companies out of sight are out of mind—and out of business. And the best way to stay in sight is to employ a marketing strategy that not only publicizes your company and its product or service, but also leaves a lingering, positive impression on your clients’ minds. Such a marketing strategy doesn’t have to break your bank, however: as I’ve discussed previously (here and here), your company can increase its brand awareness by employing a broad strategy that includes custom or branded publishing as a targeted (and extremely effective) tool.
Companies that position themselves well through brand marketing have a leg up on the competition. Don’t miss out on a sales opportunity because your company hasn’t put in the effort to develop its unaided awareness!