By Published On: December 12, 2023Categories: Stories

Column By Trey Gafford


When first attempting to navigate through the myriad of choices available to you in regards to adverting it’s first best to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Is it “brand awareness” or  “direct sales”? Maybe both if your budget allows. Let me see if I can shine some light on these two strategies.

A brand awareness strategy seeks to make your audience aware of your existence. This is called a passive engagement. It wasn’t requested or searched for but rather is displayed where you happen to be. Think social media, billboards, television, radio, video gas pumps, shopping carts, mail or any other method that seeks to grab your attention. Now, you might be thinking, “I really don’t like those ads!” But, what if your roof isn’t leaking yet. You don’t have an immediate need for a roofing company but, when your roof does leak you may recall an ad you saw and contact that company. That’s what passive engagement is all about. Planting the brand in your mind in an attempt for you to recall it at your time of need. Another objective of this type of advertising is communicating to audiences that the brand is “good”. This works for companies that have multiple brands under their umbrella. Like General Electric. They own multiple brands and place the GE logo on them. You may not know the world of things they provide but you know “We bring good things to life.” So GE is trying to communicate you can trust a product with their brand on it. As times moved on, in an effort to stay fresh, GE announced a new slogan “good things, for life”.

 Notice how the subtle change becomes more personal and the products better made. You could almost read it as, “good things, for MY life.” Passive engagements, at their best, are well crafted messages that provide a true benefit to the customer. “Long lasting, well built appliance that make my life better” is what GE is saying. GE is only one example but, it works for many companies and can work for yours too.

 For instance, you own a hair salon, gym, coffee shop, boutique or any other business for that matter. If you employ a brand awareness strategy you will need to be clever enough to create messaging that resonates with your audience. Let’s take the hair salon. Are you a brand name shop or a place that cuts hair? Whichever you are, own it. The first salon would position themselves as a spa type operation where the best products and skilled stylists are put to use. The second is get a haircut and get back to your life shop. The first example elicits “an experience of relaxation and high quality results that leave you feeling your best.” The second experience is “you can check that haircut off your to-do list.” Each business provides a similar service but would have completely different customers. Crafting your message for YOUR customer, or when searching for new customers, is the key takeaway in any awareness strategy. One important thing to remember, typically these sources price themselves as monthly fees but, can be run on a custom schedule. At any rate, you buy these ad spaces on a fixed price whether you sell anything immediately or not. So expecting an overwhelming result right away is asking too much. 

Awareness strategies work over time. But, if you have crafted the right message they will come.

Moving right along let’s take a look at the direct sales strategy. These are also known as active engagements or to put it under one term “search engine marketing”. Which means someone’s roof is actively leaking and they need a roofing company NOW. Back then, it was the Yellow Pages. Now it can’t be argued that Google is THE source for active engagements. 

Keep in mind, you can also use YouTube to target searches for “how to patch a ceiling” or “best paint for mildew”. Anything that sounds like someone may have a leak. If the awareness strategy is about the message then direct selling is all about “keywords”. And, keywords are bought on a bid system run by Google. You put in competitive bids and they charge only if someone clicks your result. 

In this case you can better control your budget but also be outbid and your result never shows. You can see how it all takes place in your ads account and analytics dashboard provided by Google. From there you can optimize your bid strategy and produce better outcomes. Another tactic is to buy your competitors business name as a keyword. This allows you to piggy-back on their search equity. In just a few sentences you might begin to see that active engagements require more effort on the day-to-day side whereas awareness engagements, to a degree, allow you to do the heavy lifting upfront. 

Active engagements require some prowess in data analysis too. Studying analytics three to four times a week and then using those insights to adjust the plan is essential. Don’t be too alarmed though. All of this can be learned through Google’s certifications platforms. They’re informative and walk you along the path to becoming successful in bids and optimization. 

Parting thought … It’s taken me 25 years in the industry to grasp the simplicity of these two strategies. My sincere hope is my message leaves you with a little more clarity on two different types of advertising methods. Understand these two and the offshoots are much easier to digest. 

Stay Awesome,

Trey Gafford

Founder & President | Baker Street Digital Media

Founded 1998

Located in the loveliest town, Opelika

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