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Brand Awareness v. Lead Generation & Media Buying

November 9, 2021

Welcome to the second installment of our blog series on Marketing for Green Industry Businesses. We’re going to cover the two main types of advertising and some guidelines for buying media in your local market. 

Know, Like, and Trust

Dale Carnegie first said “Know, like, and trust” to indicate how people choose with whom to do business. In other words, consumers will only do business with companies they know, like, and trust.

For consumers to be familiar enough with your brand to feel like they “know” you, they must see your business frequently. Most experts agree that the number of interactions (known as “touches”) a potential customer has with your company before deciding to trust you can vary. For most businesses, following the “Rule of Seven” works well – new potential customers need to get a minimum of seven touches from your company before deciding they can trust you.

Brand Awareness v. Lead Generation

We need to pause and look at what type of marketing we’re performing with that in mind. There are two main categories into which you can lump all of your marketing. They are Brand Awareness and Lead Generation. 

Brand Awareness is just what it sounds like. The marketing goal here is to raise awareness about your company overall and the services that it offers. You’re making sure people know you exist and what it is that your company can do for them. 

Lead Generation is also precisely what it sounds like. The goal here is to have your marketing generate leads for your sales team to convert into new customers. You’re asking people to take a specific action (make a phone call, visit your website, fill out an online form, etc.) in the hopes that they need the services you offer at the time the message gets to them. 

You should understand which of these “buckets” into which your ad falls. 

I bring this up for a particular reason. In today’s world, especially when it comes to anything “digital,” most businesses expect everything to bring them leads. They also expect reporting and sourcing to be 100% transparent. This is simply not realistic.

There are some initiatives you should spend money on without expecting a return. That’s a Brand Awareness spend. Some examples of this include sponsoring a local sports team (Little League, semi-Pro, professional, doesn’t matter), supporting the local high school marching band, Facebook advertising, billboards, TV, radio – you get the idea. The point is just because it’s money you’re spending doesn’t mean it’s always trackable or coming back in the door. 

When to spend on Lead Generation

Lead Generation should be done strategically in the Green Industry. There are a few key moments that should serve as “triggers” to begin Lead Generations campaigns. 

These vary by industry and region, obviously, but Spring is one of those times as a general rule. You should begin messaging and tactics a few weeks before your average peak time. For example, in the mid-Atlantic, Spring will really start to pop between early- and mid-March. Ideally, your Lead Generation campaigns will be fully ramped up two to three weeks prior. 

Another “trigger” could be the 4th of July if you run a lawn care company or a design/build company. Summer is a great time to apply grub control, and consumers seem to be aware that this is the time of year to do it. Design/build companies benefit from planning Lead Generation campaigns around the Summer holidays, too. Many people have either hosted a barbecue without enough elbow room, or they’ve been to one and seen something they want in a patio at a friend’s home. 

What about areas that are prone to high winds? A trigger for a tree care company in Florida might be hurricane season. Have Lead Generation campaigns in place before it starts. Or, in the Midwest, it could be before the start of tornado season. 

The point is to begin to think about those times in your business and your market when interest in your services is historically the highest. Whenever that is, plan your Lead Generation efforts to run for a few weeks before and after each peak. 

The action you want a potential customer to take is to sign up for a service, request an estimate, book an appointment – something that puts you on the phone or the property and gives you a chance to sell them services. These activities can include Google Ads, Direct Mailers, trade shows, and sometimes social media advertising. 

When to spend on Brand Awareness

The short answer is “You should always be spending something on Brand Awareness.”

No matter how long you’re in business in your marketplace, there’s always someone moving into your market that doesn’t know, like, or trust you yet. In 2019, nearly 10% of the US population moved from one home to another.

If you own a young business (in business for fewer than ten years), you want to spend much more on Brand Awareness than a more established business in your market. You’re fighting against time – your more established competitors have had years to build up that “trust” factor. You’re trying to ramp up more quickly and close that gap. 

The same applies if you’re in an established business but entering a new market. Don’t assume people in the new market know who you are. I knew a company that entered a “new” market and made this mistake. The truth was, they’d been servicing clients in that market for two decades, but they didn’t have an office there. They assumed that the strength of their reputation from the neighboring county, combined with their limited presence in the “new” market, would suffice.

If you’re staying in your market and trying to expand your market share, you should consider beefing up your marketing budget for more Brand Awareness advertising. Don’t sacrifice your Lead Generation advertising. If Lead Generation is pretty streamlined, the obvious answer to increasing market share is making sure people know who you are and what you do for them!

Pro tip: Run Brand Awareness Ads during Winter

It’s a GREAT idea to run Brand ads in the Winter. Why? Over 90% of your competitors will pull back on these ads. If there’s any interest at all from your target audience, you’ll be top of mind. They’ll be seeing your ads well in advance of any of your competitors, and you’ll get in those touches when there’s less competition for your prospect’s attention. If your budget allows you to do this, it should pay off. 

Best Practices for Media Buying

Buying reach in media outlets is a great Brand Awareness spend in many markets. But most businesses don’t have a ton of money to spend on this, nor should they. Here are some quick tips to help you maximize your spending on media buying. 

Where to spend?

Before making any media purchase (TV, radio, billboards, magazines, etc.), you should establish where your target audience is consuming media. Is television broadcast television prevalent where you live? What about the cable channels that advertise (ESPN, Fox News, CNN, Hallmark, etc.)? Is there a lifestyle magazine that’s popular in your region? Try to establish the channels your Buyer Persona would use, and start with those as your priority.

How to prioritize

If you have a limited budget, focus on the most popular medium and the channels to give you the most extensive reach. For example, if television is huge in your market, research to uncover which one is the most popular in your market. (You may know this already.) Buy ad time on that single, most popular channel rather than the 3-4 stations that cover your local market. 

Consider using a Media Buyer’s services

Some people make a career out of media buying. They negotiate better rates than the stations and magazines advertise, making the cost (after you’ve paid them) about the same as you’d have spent otherwise. 

There are two main advantages. One, Media Buyers save you a TON of time. Two, they will save you a fair amount of aggravation, too. A good media buyer has a general sense of what’s advertising slots are available on which stations, how much they cost, etc. They’ll be able to help you navigate the upcoming Spring season, and you should try and meet with them before the first of the year annually. 

You should also discuss your business goals with them. Tell them what you’re trying to accomplish in terms of revenue or new customers, your service area, etc., and see what they recommend. You may discover some incredible insights. 

For example, a media buyer I worked with suggested that I sponsor the local traffic report rather than buying actual ads on the local radio stations. This meant that our company’s name was heard 2-3 times each morning and evening by those commuters listening to the stations we advertised on, and it cost me a fraction of what actual ads would have cost. 

Ask about “reach”

For all platforms you are considering, you should ask about the “reach” of the ad. The wording may be different from channel to channel. For example, radio stations may talk about a “coverage map,” whereas a magazine you’re considering advertising in might talk about “circulation.” They boil down to the same thing – how many people will see and/or hear your message. And, most importantly, where are those people located?

Giant corporations run even local radio stations, television stations, and lifestyle magazines in today’s media landscape. And they’ll try to sell you on running ads in ALL the places that might cover your market in any way. Don’t fall for it, especially if your budget is tight. 

Ask for a map of what stations or what magazines are available. Feel free to push back and select only those stations or publications that cover the largest part of your service area. There’s no sense in paying for “awareness” in places that you won’t drive a truck to service, right?

Billboards

Don’t go there. Most billboards will cost you thousands of dollars a month (upward of $6,000 a month in a small city market). Plus, you have the cost printing of the material (they’re essentially giant vinyl tarps). 

The “reach” metric here is “impressions” or “eyeballs” or “commuters” – how many people drive past that billboard on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. It’s seldom worth the cost when you can get a similar reach from Facebook advertising at a fraction of the cost. 

Pro-Tip: Over-The-Top (OTT) Advertising

OTT ads are the commercials you see when you’re streaming your favorite movie or TV show on a platform like Hulu or even ESPN. You can usually get pretty focused on who sees your ad (you have more control over the geography).

The targeting available with this type of advertising is incredibly granular. You can choose from over 1,600 data points to segment your audience. The more specific the audience, however, the more it costs. 

These ads are sold like traditional TV ads. You pay for a certain number of impressions. Unlike conventional TV ads, all ads are considered an impression if they are displayed. Viewers can’t fast-forward through an ad on a streaming platform, and people seldom leave the stream to try and skip commercials (they’ll just play anyway before your show resumes). 

You can purchase 0:15 and 0:30 second spots, get the kind of targeting you would typically associate with something like Google or Facebook ads, and people can’t skip the commercials. This is a win-win-win if it’s in your budget. 

Conclusion

You’ve now got a good handle on what’s a Lead Generation ad spend and what’s a Brand Awareness ad campaign. You know why both are important, and you’ve gotten a TON of helpful information about how to purchase media in your local market. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of our six-part series on Green Industry Marketing, where we discuss the Best Practices for Print Advertising. (Yes, that’s still a thing – check it out next week!)

Go back and read Part 1 – Who is My Customer? for context.

Keep reading Part 3 – Best Practices for Print Advertising. Hint: these principles also work for online display ads, so you should read the article!