For most businesses, the goal of marketing is to bring in new customers. But not all marketing produces leads directly, and the truth is that it shouldn’t. While brand awareness and marketing activities work to grow your audience overall, lead generation activities should qualify that audience down to a smaller group of people who are good prospects for your Sales team. But what about the rest of the audience? The ones who aren’t yet a marketing qualified lead to pass onto Sales or who may never be a good fit for your business or offering. Those segments of your audience have value as well. Brand awareness marketing activities connect with and educate all segments of your audience, from future customers to advocates. They contribute significantly to building a good reputation for your brand and growing your word of mouth. Knowing when and where to do specific types of marketing activities and what messaging to use will set you up for success and keep your funnel filled.
Brand awareness vs. lead generation
Lead generation is about finding and connecting with the right leads. But it is also about systematically quantifying qualified prospects that turn into customers, brand advocates, and referral agents.
Brand awareness is a proactive way to differentiate your company and its offerings. A strong brand provides a sustainable competitive advantage by increasing recognition in the marketplace. It helps build strong customer relationships by conveying your company values. It increases your credibility by providing key insights and content that educates your audience. Brand awareness is also a necessary first step to lead generation. It helps prospects become aware of your company and pulls them into the initial stages of the funnel.
The circular funnel
When you’re considering brand awareness activities along with lead generation activities, it allows you to look at your funnel as more of a circle where, in the end, your entire audience becomes advocates who help you continue to fill the top of your funnel. It is a holistic approach where brand awareness and lead generation activities work in tandem to educate and nurture leads, customers, and advocates. This partnership between brand awareness and lead generation activities lets you focus on providing the right messaging for different segments of your audience and different funnel stages.
Your entire audience starts in the awareness and discovery stages. Brand marketing is key during these stages of the funnel. Your marketing activities should showcase your brand, educate your audience on who you are, and differentiate you in the marketplace. Things shared here can be your mission and vision statements, your values, key insights about your industry, your customers’ pain points, and your offerings. In these stages, brand messaging and content is key to educating your audience on who you are, what you do, and why you are trusted experts. Brand marketing and strategy should drive your messaging at these stages.
Following those initial stages of the funnel, your audience can progress along a couple of different tracks depending on if they are a potential prospect or fit better as a future advocate for your brand. If they are a prospect, marketing activities at this stage take them through the consideration stage of the funnel, with messaging designed to educate them further about how your offerings solve their pain points. Marketing qualified leads are handed off to Sales and eventually enter the conversion stage of the funnel before becoming a customer. From there, they progress through retention and advocacy. In these stages, the communications start to go in both directions, as customers provide feedback that helps refine your offerings, your marketing activities, and your brand messaging.
The second group, those contacts who are not good prospects for your offering, skips ahead to advocacy. However, they also benefit from the information and key insights provided during the consideration stage. In the end, every one of these contacts, both potential advocates and customers, can become an advocate for your brand and help fill the top of your funnel with new referrals. Ongoing marketing activities at this stage should be about educating everyone further and providing them with the information and resources they need to advocate for your brand.
Segment your audience
Strategic segmentation is one vital activity for content marketing success across both brand awareness and lead generation activities. We’ve discussed segmenting your audience into prospects and potential advocates as they progress through the funnel. You want to identify those segments and divide your audiences as early as possible to tailor your marketing activities to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. Qualifying and defining the different types of segments enables you to properly communicate with hot leads, those prospects that still need nurturing, your current customers, and those contacts who will turn out to be great advocates or bring you referrals. Here is an example of segments for your audience:
- Marketing qualified lead – these are ready to hand off to Sales
- Needs nurturing – these prospects require further nurturing to lead them towards conversion
- Customer – these are ready for retention activities and messaging that further educates them or helps convert them into advocates
- Potential advocate – these are ready for additional nurturing about your brand and what you have to offer
- Referral opportunity – these need additional messaging on how to refer and the benefits of providing a referral
Brand awareness and lead generation complement each other. You need your prospects to be aware of your brand for your lead generation activities to be successful and pull them further into the funnel. The same activities that drive lead generation also help grow brand awareness, helping build an audience of advocates.
Contact us for help developing the right digital marketing activities to build brand awareness, drive leads, and create advocates.