This Article has been published with permission from Cason Lane, Cason Lane Strategic Communications.
No matter what you’re communicating, you’re probably measuring awareness as one part of your strategy. But awareness shouldn’t be the ultimate goal.
So I’m aware of your brand, product, message or campaign. Now what? How does that help the business?
We communicators have to translate that awareness into action. Are we trying to improve sales? Loyalty? Referrals? Employee productivity? It comes down to aligning your communication strategy with the desired behaviour, and that means having the right objectives at the outset. The objectives have to go beyond awareness.
- From awareness to market share. One client, a corporate foundation, wanted to improve its communications, but many people didn’t even know the foundation existed. So objective No. 1 was to increase awareness of the foundation. Then we developed strategic messages and communications to convert that awareness into meaningful outcomes. The result? Post-launch research showed that because of improved awareness about the foundation, consumers had a more favourable opinion of the parent company, existing customers were more likely to stay, and prospective customers were more likely to buy.
- From awareness to compliance. Another client, a large government organization, wanted its customers to follow a certain process for requesting services and products. We obviously needed to ensure awareness of the process, but awareness alone wouldn’t equal success. We also had to improve confidence in the process and compliance with it. What does that compliance look like? What are the desired behaviours? We answered these questions at the beginning, and they formed the objectives for the strategy.
- From awareness to employee engagement. At a nationwide restaurant chain, some employees weren’t aligned with the company’s direction, so the organization developed communications that improved awareness and understanding of the company strategies. But awareness and understanding would only be valuable if they also translated to factors like job satisfaction, employee productivity, reduced turnover, improved customer service, and higher sales. The company aligned its employee communications to these objectives.
- From awareness to trial. At the same restaurant company, senior management recognized that “media impressions” – the traditional PR metric for stories generated in print and broadcast media – were only an indicator of awareness, not behaviour. So PR developed a measurement tool showing that consumers, after reading or hearing a news story about a new product, actually visited a restaurant to try it out. In this way, the PR department linked generated stories to product sales, demonstrating the real business value of public relations.
Remember: Awareness is an important stepping stone, but it’s usually not the destination.
Ensure your PR activity is aligned with your marketing strategy and overall business objectives. Turn awareness into action with a strategic marketing plan.