The Epic Failure of Brand Awareness

Increasing “Brand Awareness” is a Huge Waste of Money, Time, and Resources

The next time you’re sitting with the someone in a marketing department, ask that person, “why did you run the last digital display ad campaign?”

When I have asked that question, 4 out of 5 times I’ve received the response, “we’re trying to increase brand awareness.”

One small line from a great book comes to mind whenever I hear that:

“Kmart has plenty of awareness, so what?”
-Purple Cow by Seth Godin

It’s such a simple question but its subtext is incredibly powerful.

When was the last time you wanted to buy anything at Kmart?

Companies spend outrageous amounts of money to make sure people know their name. Marketers will convince themselves into believing:

  • We’ll be top of mind to the consumer!
  • We’re filling the top of the purchase funnel!
  • We’re going to see both unaided and aided brand awareness go up!

Ad sellers are licking their lips and selling people on GRP’s, CPM, view-through conversions, frequency caps, personalization, target segments, custom audiences, omnichannel attribution, etc. The terms go on and on.

Throughout this process people have forgotten to spend time and effort on making a product or service people want to talk about. The concept of making something people want and need has simply disappeared from a big part of the marketing world.

A couple of things to think about when you’re focusing on brand awareness:

  • Do people actually buy your product because they’re more aware of it?
  • How much cash would you be willing to hand someone on the street to be more aware of your brand?
  • Would you be better off spending the money on making something people talk about rather than one you simply put in front of them in a digital format?
  • Are you even sure brand awareness studies / metrics / measurements are accurate? If not, how can you be sure anything is working?
    • For example, does a group of people asked about your company’s brand actually reflect the hundreds of millions of people you’re trying to reach?
    • Do you believe a 3,000 person sample size represents an entire country’s population?
    • Think about the 2016 Trump vs. Clinton Election – it had massive amounts of spending on polling along with very intelligent statisticians and they weren’t even close when it came to actual voting behavior – how does your brand awareness survey compare to that?

While I may gripe about marketing, I’m part of it and understand many of the difficulties. The point of this post is to help you ask the right questions and save you money!

Always bring up questions about your marketing tactics but don’t be rude to your local marketer, that will only make things worse for you.

Also, the brand awareness of this blog is pretty low, so perhaps I’ll look into ways to boost its awareness levels!