How to Generate Brand Awareness for Your Small Business

Learn different tactics to generate brand awareness for your business with our guide.
Shop cat Avery with fictional advertising character Don Draper
Our Advertising Specialist Avery with Don Draper

Here at Vinyl ink we're in the business of promoting your business. So, we wanted to put together a list of tactics that help build brand awareness for your small business. In this guide, we’ll be focusing on the top most area of your sales funnel. This is often referred to as the awareness period, or the stage your customers first become aware of your business.

We won’t be diving too deep into the sales funnel concept in this article, but know that sales funnels are a numbers game. If you visualize a funnel and cut it into sections, each section gets smaller as you work towards the bottom. Unlike an actual funnel, a sales funnel loses customers throughout each stage. So the more customers you get at the start, the more you’ll be likely to end up with at the end of the funnel.

Brand recognition is an important measure of success for any successful brand with strong brand awareness. You want customers to recall your brand and the imagery associated with it, especially during later stages of the buying process. Whether that's your mascot, colors, or your logo, the better your brand recall is the more likely customers will be reminded of you when deciding to purchase something.

Building Brand Awareness Online

PPC Ads on top of Google Search Result Page

PPC Ads

Ah the good old pay per click ads. This list wouldn't be complete without them. Now some of you savvy marketing people out there may be thinking, 'Wait, PPC ads aren't used for generating brand awareness...', and to those people, you're correct!

PPC ads are great for customers who know their unfulfilled need already. They're looking to solve their problem. They have an idea of what they're looking for, and they may even know of a few businesses that can fulfill those needs.

We included PPC ads in the list because we'll often see businesses pour money into this strategy. Usually with the idea that PPC is a cost effective way to get more eyes on your business (and your website). But, PPC campaigns can come with costly learning curves that can devour your digital marketing budget.

As much as Google would like you to think they can automate your campaigns with their fancy AI, the reality is PPC ads need regular upkeep. They can also run your ads for unintended audiences and keywords. Checking ad performance, conversion rates, and running A/B tests are essential to keeping your campaign on track. And unless you have a dedicated marketing person, the responsibility of up-keeping your ads will likely fall on you.

Oh, and we almost forgot to mention there's internet robots that click on your links to over-inflate your campaigns performance.

Average price per month:

$2,000 - $10,000+

Data from WebFXAgency

Average price per day:

$67 - $333+

Display Ads

Back to brand awareness ads. Display ads can be an effective way to educate people about your company, and can be a viable option for increase. Display ads can range in size and placement, but typically are some type of banner-style advertisement you might see on a website like a cooking blog, or even Youtube.

Display ads can also use cookies to "follow" your customers on the web. Ever been to a website, and all of a sudden you see their ad on your favorite news site, then you see it again on another corner of the web? That's powered by cookies.

The goal of display ads can vary, but usually are related to impressions, or the amount of users who've viewed your advertisement. Their goal is to create awareness and imprint your business' identity onto users chosen based on their interests, age, gender etc.

There's a few problems that have come up in recent years for business owners and marketers utilizing display ads.

First, the rising rates of ad blocker usage prevents advertisers from displaying ads to users. While some websites have come up with ways to encourage users to turn off ad blockers, it's an important note to make.

Second, privacy concerns from users who have pushed for more transparency when it comes to how their data is used, stored, or sold (we're looking at you Facebook).

Google has announced that they're phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2024, which is bad news for advertisers and marketers. Cookies are essential for ad personalization, so without them, display ads will likely aim for broader appeal like billboards. Funny how some things come full circle.

Average price per month:

$500 - $10,000+

Data from WebFX Agency

Average price per day:

$16 - $333+

Podcast mic and boom

Podcasts

Podcasts vs. radio, what's the difference? Well, not much. The concept is the same, creators create audio content, advertisers pay for time on those audio waves. But the barrier to entry has been significantly reduced. Pretty much everyone can have a podcast. So how does that help savvy business owners like you? Targeting customers by interests. According to Hubspot, podcast listenership doesn't vary too much from show to show. They tend to be educated millennial with decent earnings. But the key here is psychographic interests.

Psychographics are things like interests, traits, and personalities your potential customer may exhibit. For example, a local electrical company could partner with a DIY & home improvement podcast to promote services outside the range of the average DIYer.

Like many of our other methods, podcast advertising is situational. If you're operating on a local basis this may not be the best method for you. Podcasts can be listened to anywhere, as opposed to local radio stations, so for those looking to reach local areas other avenues may be more effective.

Average price per month:

Can range from $20 - $50 per placement per show.

iPhone with social media icons on screen

Social Media

This list wouldn't be complete without a social media mention. Social media itself is a beast, and deserves its own article. But, without going too deep into the intricacies of social media and content marketing, our best tip for you is to first define your target audience.

Many business' first instinct is to get on whatever social media platform they a.) personally use or b.) think is the most popular platform. Jumping on the first social media platform that comes to mind is like going on a road trip without a plan and destination.  This only leads to wasted time and effort trying to reach your audience on a platform they aren't even on.

First, start out by defining who your potential customers are, where do they spend their time on the web? What's some of their interests? What type of content do they enjoy? It's even better if you have existing customers who fit your target audience definitions. See what attracted them to your business in the first place, and see how you can attract more customers like them.

For example if your target audience consists of SaaS companies, spending time creating TikToks likely won't reach your intended audience. You'd be better suited creating white papers, or hosting webinars on LinkedIn.

We'll quickly breakdown the two types of social media content, organic content and paid content.

Organic Social Media Content

Organic social media content refers to things you'd normally post to your social media profile, without the use of any promotional tools. The heyday of businesses posting organically and increasing brand awareness have long passed, and businesses that solely rely on organic posts likely won't receive the engagement they're looking for.

Paid Social Media Content

Somewhat self-explanatory, paid social media content refers to posts that have used a platform's  advertising features to artificially boost posts. Paid posts are essential for any social media marketing campaign with a goal to increase brand awareness.

Average price per month:

Dependent on platform, post volume, and amount of platforms used.

$2,000 - $7,000

Data from WebFX Agency

Average price per day:

$67 - $234

Building Brand Awareness Offline

Neon billboard near subway

Billboards

Starting off the list with the one of the most expensive methods, billboards require a serious amount of money. But, they can reach populations in the millions which can be great for building brand awareness.

According to OUTFRONT Media, an Out of Home (OOH) Advertising group, San Francisco ranks 11th out of the top 50 markets for OOH Advertising in the U.S. Which is great exposure for your business, but not so great for your wallet.

Billboards can be a fantastic way to target a geographic area where your customers live. But, billboards lack the personalization capabilities of some of our other mentions. Billboards need designs for broad appeal.

The San Francisco / Oakland Area has a staggering 3,827,557 population using the Bay Area’s transportation networks, spending an average of 24 minutes commuting on Bay Area roads and highways each day of the work week. That’s a lot of people! Even with an exposure rate of 1%, you can expect more than 30,000 people exposed to your business via billboard.

Average price per month:

$2,000 - $15,000

Data from Dash Two

Average price per day:

$67 - $500

Valpak blue envelope direct mail example

Direct Mail

The good old fashioned print advert. While you may think to yourself, ‘the 1920’s called they want their default ad choice back’, don’t be too quick to discount print ads. In an age of constant digital overload, print ads have held up in certain metrics against digital ads and email marketing.

Direct mail can be an effective way to target geographic regions, and can be useful for small businesses catering to their local communities. Direct mail is a cost effective supplement to your brand awareness campaign, and your overall marketing strategy. Valpak, a leading direct mail advertising network, says average rates per household can range from 3¢ to 5¢.

In a poll conducted by Gallup, 41% of Americans look forward to opening their mail everyday, and direct mail ads have a 10% higher open rate than the industry average for email marketing campaigns. According to Mailmen, advertising mail has on average of 17 days before being thrown out, giving ample time for household members to browse adverts.

Direct mail doesn’t come without its limitations. These costs don’t reflect creative costs that involved in creating conversion-worthy direct mail. If your business values sustainability this also may not be the best method for marketing your business. Depending on the quality of your ad's offer and visual appeal, direct mail can come off as spammy.

Average price per month:

$800

Data from Valpak for 20,000 households

Average price per day:

$27

Graphic wrap on Box Truck for Nixxit Junk Removal

Vehicle Graphics

Last but not least, is vehicle graphics. Vehicle graphics can be an extremely cost-effective and low maintenance marketing solution for your business. For those unfamiliar with vehicle wraps, these can be anywhere from full vehicle wraps to partial decals that help customers become aware of your business. In fact, statistics compiled by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) show that vehicle wraps boost name recognition by 15x when compared to other advertising methods.

OAAA also found that wore than 95% of Americans are reached by media targeting vehicle drivers and passengers and one vehicle wrap can generate between 30,000 - 70,000 impressions daily.

You may have seen them utilized by large corporations like Amazon, Lyft, or Dominoes, but vehicle wraps have tangible benefits for any-sized business. More than 90% of U.S. travelers have noticed some form of out-of-home (OOH) advertisements.

Vehicle wraps take the cheapest spot out of any OOH, especially when calculated over the duration of the wrap’s life, usually around five years. The stats are staggering: vehicle wrap’s impressions cost $44 per 100,000 impressions. Not a thousand, not even twenty thousand, but per one hundred thousand views. To put that into perspective, Google Search Ad’s median cost per thousand impressions is $41.10.

Vehicle graphics can be a highly efficient method of spending ad dollars. No ad optimization, no privacy updates, and no rising costs. It’s a one and done type of advertising method, which is rare in today’s climate. Once you get a wrap it’s working for you 24/7, generating anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 impressions daily.

But how do you calculate the ROI of a vehicle wrap? Conversion events. In recent years, QR codes have become a popular way to track the effectiveness of many OOH advertisements, vehicles graphics included. A QR code paired with a simple landing page can gauge how many customers went to your website, and completed your conversion event like requesting a quote, or booking a service.

Average price of wrap:

$3000 - $4000

Average price per day (no ongoing cost after 5 years):

$1.66 - $2.22

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