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24 clever ways for startups to boost brand awareness

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Written by Flying Saucer Studio

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This month, we’ve been taking a deep dive into all things brand awareness; writing a comprehensive crash course called The Ultimate Startup Guide to Brand Awareness, and publishing a flurry of helpful articles to help you deepen your understanding and provide tangible examples.

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Today, we’re keeping things short(ish) and sweet with quick, actionable tips you can put into place today in order to build brand awareness and share your startup’s story.


  1. Incentivize sharing

    Give people an extra reason to hit that “share” button or refer a friend. Perhaps their name will be entered in a raffle for spa tickets or they’ll get a promo code for $5 off their next purchase? Think creatively about the perks you could offer, as oftentimes, even the tiniest of incentives can go a long way.
  2. Run contests

    Well orchestrated contests can yield powerful results. Kontest has found an average boost of 34% in fans with social media contests, while ⅓ of contest participants agree to receive further marketing information. For more tips, check out Sprout’s great breakdown of contest do’s and don’ts.
  3. Get people involved with user-generated content

    You know that feeling you get when you’re at a great concert and the musicians stop playing in order to let the crowd carry the tune? That sense of being part of a collective – of very literally feeling heard? That kind of experience sticks with people, and you can harness it for your brand by giving them the power to shape your content and voice their preferences. Get inspired by these 10 examples of great user-generated content campaigns.
  4. Create a referral program

    One of the best ways you can help your loyal ambassadors bolster your brand awareness and spread the word is by giving them all of the content, infrastructure and information they need to quickly and easily recommend your brand. Stats show that 88% of consumers say referrals and word-of-mouth are by the far the most trusted forms of advertising. For more, check out Hubspot’s comprehensive guide to building a loyalty program here.
  5. Provide added value

    Before we publish or share anything, we must always ask ourselves: will this be genuinely helpful, interesting or relevant to my audiences? If the answer is no, ditch it. Be it by answering questions in Quora, creating how-to YouTube tutorials or creating handy checklists that people can use in their everyday lives, find out how you can go that extra mile and you’ll be sure to build some goodwill for your brand.
  6. Touch base with neglected audiences

    Too often, our clients and leads go through a few rudimentary filters only to then sit stale in neglected send lists after just a few attempts at conversion or engagement. Beyond the quality of your products and services, timing can play a massive role in whether you make it through to your audience. Having a quiet period? Pull out those lists and experiment with new messages, new types of media, new email titles. Stats show it’s 5 times more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain or re-activate an existing one, so make sure you don’t lose all of the groundwork you’ve done to get those contacts through the door.
  7. Collaborate with other brands

    There’s so much to be gained by collaborating with like-minded brands to create content, host events or launch a visibility campaign. Not only does this allow you to bring new, fresh voices and perspectives to your story, but it helps you build legitimacy and credibility within your community, it allows both brands to tap into the other’s audiences and it establishes your brand as a good corporate citizen that fosters transparency and collaboration for the greater good of your potential customers. Get inspired by these 10 examples of great branded content partnerships.
  8. Piggyback on existing events and opportunities

    The year is packed with holidays, sporting events or big news items that make audiences particularly attentive and receptive to stories and messaging that revolve around similar themes. If you see an organic and relevant opportunity to join the conversation and leverage that natural boost in visibility, grab it. Can you run a special Christmas campaign? Or perhaps have a contest in the lead up to the Olympics? Can you throw together a quick and wildly successful Twitter campaign  like Oreo did in the middle of the Super Bowl blackout? If you see an opening, get in there and grab your share of the increased clicks.
  9. Create and share infographics

    A lot of startups accumulate impressive amounts of data and research, but fail to pick up on their marketing potential. Infographics are a great way to convey complex information in ways that are engaging and manageable. Stats even show that an infographic is  30x more likely to be read  than pure text. You’ll get the best results by opting for a designer on this one, but you can also give it a jab yourself by using a free and simple tool like Canva to build your own.
  10. Create and share video content

    I’m sure you’ve heard the stats before: by 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content, 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day...you get the picture. Creating video content for your brand doesn’t have to involve a multi-million dollar production budget, even quick homemade videos introducing your team, new features or how-to tutorials can go a long way.
  11. Invite people in early with beta cohorts

    No matter how much we try to deny it, we all kind of like to feel like VIPs. If you’re working on launching a new product or service, try harnessing that feeling by letting in a select group of early users who will not only provide important feedback, but will feel invested in its success and eager to let the world know they were there first.
  12. Give them a peek behind the curtain

    When it comes to content, we’re big fans of low-hanging-fruit, which means simple stories you can easily create and share by simply paying attention to your company’s daily happenings and rituals. Let people in on your process and growth by introducing them to new team members, by sharing a snapshot of your developers buried under mountains of energy drinks as they push to finish a new feature, or by showing them how a product is built and designed. Whatever glimpse you offer, it’s sure to make your audience feel connected to the human side of your company’s brand all the while driving home a sense of communication and transparency. Get inspired by these 5 examples of great behind-the-scenes content.
  13. Hand out freebies

    This one’s pretty obvious: people like free stuff. Be it a t-shirt, a beer cosy, a free audiobook or adorable limited-edition toys, figure out a delightful little token that fits your audience’s wants and needs, and fire up the t-shirt cannon.
  14. Join existing conversations

    In our Ultimate Startup Guide to Brand Awareness, we highlight the importance of figuring out where your community is already engaged, and how you can add value to those conversations. Consider rifling through Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and Twitter to find non-branded groups, hashtags or threads that are relevant to your brand, and then get chatting.
  15. Take it offline

    While building brand in the digital space is a great way to keep a close eye on your data and metrics, it’s important to seize opportunities to connect with your audiences and customers in real life. Think about hosting a meetup, accepting a speaking engagement, going to trade show/conference, or bringing your team out to volunteer for an important cause.
  16. Help build something beautiful and public

    Living in such a digital age can sometimes make it hard to see our brand imprinted in the physical world. Perhaps you have a billboard on the highway, or a cool ad on one of the bus stop signs I’ve always been so curious about – but are you creating value? Consider commissioning a public mural through a well-versed agency like LNDMRK, or sponsoring a free neighbourhood event. That way, your brand will be forever associated with powerful, shared experiences that truly contribute to a community’s quality of life.
  17. Stop speaking at people, start speaking to them

    We’ve all seen it; brands that have decided they “need a social strategy” and proceed to publish a lukewarm, barely-veiled shout out to themselves 3 times a week like unimaginative clockwork. Based on an old-school traditional marketing model that simply assumes you can repeatedly zap messaging at people’s brains until it sinks in; it runs completely counter to the engagement, authenticity and creativity modern consumers have come to expect from their brands. In fact, 75% of people say they want their favourite companies to reflect their personal values and be relevant for their generation.
    #SpoilerAlert: your “3 reasons our company is the best” post is not likely to feel particularly valuable and relevant to most audiences. Skip the bland self-promotion and give your audiences an actual opportunity to start a conversation with your brand.
  18. Produce long-form content

    Did you know that the most popular posts on Medium take about 8 minutes to read and run approx 1800 words? Though in many ways, our digital attention spans get shorter every day, it seems we’ve also developed a new-found appreciation and loyalty to brands that create high-quality long-form pieces. In fact, numbers now show that articles between 3 000 and 10 000 see a significant boost in sharing and engagement. So the question becomes: what is your brand uniquely qualified to geek out about?
  19. Be the right person at the right party

    In many ways, trying to build brand awareness and be heard in a crowded conversation is rather similar to trying to navigate your way through a loud college party. There aren’t any guarantees that you’ll find your crowd – you might end up pretending you like beer-pong for a bit  – but you can stack the odds in your favour by being selective about the parties you attend. In short, you don’t need to be on every single social media platform, and you don’t need to be everyone’s cup of tea; better to focus on creating genuine value on platforms that fit with your audience’s aims. So if you’re trying to build awareness across countless platforms to the detriment of your quality – slim down and when ready, gradually build back up.
  20. PODCAST!!!

    If you’ve made it this far down the article, we’re basically best friends now, so there’s something you should probably know about me: I am that podcast person. The one who always interjects into conversations by bringing up a weird fact she learned on a podcast that week. The one who makes you regret bringing up podcasts as you sit through a 30-minute monologue on the power of audio and the incredible ROI stats that back it up. Podcasts generate 4.4x more brand recognition than most digital advertising. Recent Midroll stats show that 61% of listeners say they’d be likely to buy a product if they heard a podcast ad. Curious? Check out Transom.org for a slew of simple tips and resources.
  21. Connect with community influencers

    As you become increasingly active in a network of conversations and communities, you’ll find some voices rise to the top – given credence and credibility because of the quality of their content, their impressive reach and their steady consistency. If you think they might be interested in your product or services, try to get on their radar organically by commenting on their content, engaging in conversation, sharing their stories and eventually, reaching out. If your values align, leveraging their standing and audience to collaborate on content can do big things for your brand awareness; allowing you a platform in front of a valuable, trusting and well-targeted audience.
  22. Create special editions/limited time products or services

    It’s no secret: creating a sense of urgency or exclusivity can be instrumental in building hype and momentum around your brand. A recent report even shows that adding “urgency” words to an email title increases click-to-open rates by over 14%, boosted transaction-to-click rates by 59%, and double its transaction rate. If well timed and choreographed, a limited-edition campaign can make a big splash.
  23. Charm someone famous

    Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. In the early 2000s, you could barely walk a block without seeing Britney Spears sipping on a cool Pepsi, and George Clooney’s recent Nespresso ads probably had more than a few of us wishing the dreamy actor would invite us for a cup of joe. Data also shows that 85% of people feel celebrity endorsements boost confidence in a product and preference for a product. The key? Finding someone who genuinely likes your product and aligns with your brand’s core values.
  24. Plan a big coup

    Feeling bold and ambitious? Want people to get to know your brand in a big way? Try publicly breaking up with your competitors via helicopter, singing telegram and sailboat. Or perhaps you could reunite friends and families from across the globe for the holidays? Whatever you decide to do, make sure it packs a powerful emotional punch and tells a story people won’t soon forget.

 

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