Awareness vs. Mindshare
MARKETING MISTAKE: Focusing too much of your marketing efforts on creating awareness—and not mindshare
The primary flaw of many outbound marketing campaigns today is the simple fact that they focus on creating awareness for a company and its solution(s)—instead of focusing on creating mindshare.
Awareness has been a primary goal of marketing in the U.S. for at least 50 years. It’s the first chapter of every Marketing 101 curriculum. So what’s wrong with awareness? Once you create it, you begin to lose it.
Understanding Your Awareness-To-Purchase Timeframe
Consumer marketers rely on a constant barrage of market visibility initiatives—advertisements, direct marketing, and promotions are almost non-stop (with minor seasonal fluctuations). If you’re selling laundry detergent, the average consumer is likely going to have a need for detergent within the next two to three weeks. If they see your ads running regularly, they’ll hopefully be swayed to buy your product when they do need it in the next few weeks. The awareness-to- purchase timeframe is brief.
As the complexity of the product or service that you’re marketing rises, the awareness-to-purchase timeframe expands. You see an ad for the latest iPhone, and you want one, but it may be several weeks or even a few months before you decide to buy it (you may, for example, need more time to save up for it).
But in the world of B2B technology marketing, the awareness-to-purchase timeframe (the true sales cycle) can easily be six to nine months or much longer. When you launch your marketing campaign, such as an email or telemarketing campaign, you’re relying on the sheer chance that you reach decision makers who happen to recognize that they need your solution—and need it soon. You cannot expect them to remember much about you nine months from now when they finally reach the conclusion that they need to purchase something. But that’s precisely what too many marketing campaigns rely on today.
Awareness Is Relative To Time
Awareness is a measurement that’s relative to a specific point in time. How aware someone is of your company and solutions depends on when you ask them. They may be fully aware of your solutions a day or perhaps even a week after they’ve received and read your email, visited your booth at a trade show, or visited your website. But chances are low that they’ll still be aware of your company (and its strategic differentiation) nine months later when they’ve finally concluded that they really need a solution to the problem your product or service is designed to solve.
And that’s the flaw with most B2B outbound marketing campaigns: they don’t recognize that awareness is very fleeting. When your prospective customer reads your email campaign or direct mailer, talks to your telesales rep, or visits your trade show exhibit, their awareness of you peaks right away—and then immediately begins to decay. If the business problem that your technology solution solves happens to be a high-priority concern on their mind at that moment, you’re in luck. But if that business problem won’t become a high priority for that company for several months, the chance they’re thinking of you all those months later is not high.
Under pressure to generate new sales leads, many technology companies today rush forward with ill- planned outbound marketing campaigns that focus too much on awareness—and not on mindshare.
Steps To Avoid This Mistake
Understand the value difference between awareness (fleeting) and mindshare (long-term).
Mindshare is awareness extended over time. To build mindshare among prospective customers means that you’re extending the amount of time they are aware of your company and solutions (and the unique value that makes you ideally suited for their business—your value proposition). To focus your marketing efforts on building mindshare, they must be designed not only to find and qualify interested sales leads, but they must also establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with those other contacts that are not yet qualified or ready for sales discussions. That is accomplished through what we call “incubation programs”— which are designed to establish and incubate relationships over time.
Establishing awareness, thus, isn’t nearly as valuable as establishing mindshare. Awareness begins to disintegrate the moment it exists. When you establish customer mindshare, on the other hand, you’ve not only created awareness, but you’ve extended that awareness over time by maintaining a relationship with that prospective customer. In doing so, you no longer have to rely so heavily on the chance that your awareness happens to occur simultaneous to their recognized need for your technology solution(s).
Building mindshare is about increasing the likeliness the customer thinks of you first when they finally recognize the need for your type of solution. So take a close look at your marketing campaign efforts. Stop generating only awareness—and start generating mindshare.
Use Multiple Reach Vehicles.
Examine your marketing plans and make sure you carefully spread your outbound marketing efforts across multiple “reach vehicles”—providing the means to reach your target markets and gain their attention and mindshare. Relying solely on one reach vehicle repeatedly—email, for example—is typically not as effective as reaching your target audiences through multiple vehicles (e.g., email, banner ads, newsletters, blogs, etc.).
Make a secondary offer in your campaigns.
The primary call-to-action for most campaigns should focus on identifying and qualifying real, active sales opportunities. So the primary promotional offers should support this. However, it costs little or nothing to also include a secondary offer designed for those who are not quite ready to talk to a salesperson or watch a demonstration, for example. For those not-yet- qualified contacts, a secondary offer for a free newsletter, white paper, or technology primer allows the opportunity for you to establish a relationship with that contact.
Establish And Incubate Relationships With Your Prospective Customers.
Ongoing e-newsletters, online webinars, free resources, and other tools should be created and launched on a scheduled basis to continue to build mindshare (awareness extended over time) with prospective customers. Try to communicate at least every other month to your list of contacts. Give them a reason to come back to your website to find additional, useful (and free) resources, download a white paper, or request participation in a webinar or tutorial. The primary goal here is to build up your mindshare within these contacts so when their priorities change and it becomes time to truly get serious about finding a solution to their business challenges, you’re the first one they think of to contact.
Below is an example of an integrated marketing campaign that focuses on building mindshare using these incubation program concepts.