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Moving from Awareness (I sometimes call it Discoverability…) to Reputation, and then to some kind of Economic Engagement (Sales, Donations, etc…) is a well-known path for many businesses.
The first stop on this journey is gaining Awareness of your business. Sadly, there are still a number of businesses who feel and act as though the best way to get attention is to YELL A LOT ONLINE! This number is shrinking, but they are still there. What the rest scatter into are versions of:
- Semi-random posts based partly on the business and partly on when whomever is managing the online activity has time or interest to post something. Hence pages that will have four posts in one day, and then go 3 months before the next one.
- A steady stream of “We’re Great! Everyone Says So!” and “Buy Our Stuff!“. These folks generally post a lot, and descend into “Internet Noise” pretty quickly…
- The “Cats Rule the Internet” strategy, where a large number of posts are entertaining GIFs and Videos of Pets, People and Fun things, but without any balancing of content that’s valuable to the customer, except for those who find filling their day with looking at this kind of stuff valuable. May drive a l lot of traffic, but no business.
- Patterns that ALMOST come together into a coherent plan, but lack the real strategy to make progress in their marketing and business goals. Sometimes the owner is a regular use of some channel like Facebook, and so knows kind of what others do, but hasn’t worked through how that looks for her business.
- Some solid execution plans that are moving the needle for the business and producing value. These companies are intelligently investing in and leveraging digital/social media to MAKE MONEY.
Awareness can be tough. There are millions of businesses on the Internet, and, needless to say, maintaining existing customers and growing the business are two top goals all of them. Even if your message makes it into the field of attention of a potential customer, you don’t have long to draw them in. There are two views regarding getting someone’s attention on the Internet. The most frequently quoted one is that the average human attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds, compared to 9 seconds for a goldfish! Another study works to debunk that view, stating that the average human attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds. Whichever view you subscribe to, it means that you have precious little time to arrest the attention of someone in your online audience and convince them to read more and pay attention to your message.
Based on some research I’ve done lately, I’m about to dive into the book Brain Rules by John Medina. Why? Because Medina digs deep into how the brain works and, particularly, for my interest, how the brain pays attention. That’s how you gain and build awareness…..snag the brain! According to Medina, “We don’t pay attention to boring things.”
So don’t be boring, right?
But what if the things that excite you bore others to tears? How do you figure that out? There are a couple of things here:
- Learn the brain science around awareness and attention – Yeah, I know. You don’t have time, it can be hard to work your way through the materials (books, articles, web sites, online courses, etc.). But think about the pay-off! If you could get a better grasp of the mechanics of how people give their attention (or lose it, in the case of a lot of content and information out there…), you would (A) know MUCH MORE about it than your competitors, and (B) look at your marketing and sale much differently, in ways that will benefit your business in a big way. Medina’s book is a good place to start….
- Do the market and audience research – I talk with business owners every week who, despite being in business for more than a year or two, have never done any research around the market for their product or service, nor any audience research to discover what their targeted audience(s) are interested in. This kind of research covers both the things that your business provides as well as other things. These others are things that you are excited about. Could be almost anything…you will find others online who are just as crazy about them as you are. That touch of humanity will sometimes bring more attention to you and your business than the subjects you write and post about that support your business! Beyond the building of Awareness, now you are creating a different kind of dialogue with them that will build your credibility as a real person and a professional. Nobody want to “talk” to a brand….they want to talk with a person!
In order to gain an build Awareness of you and your business, you must gain the attention of the right audience. Take the time, energy and resources to do that, and you are well on your way along the journey to building your Reputation and driving Economic Engagement. Like everything else with being a small business, do the work, and you will see results.