When you go to write something down, do you grab a sticky note or a Post-It?
When you nick your finger, do you look for the plastic bandages or the Band-Aids?
When you’re thirsty for a soft drink, do you order a cola or a Coke?
These brands are so successful that they’ve become proprietary eponyms; they’ve replaced the generic terms for similar products. That right there is the apex of brand awareness and it’s what you want to achieve for your brand, within your farm.
- Brand awareness campaigns are a new form of ‘digital prospecting’.
- Your audience needs to see the ad that matches their need at that particular point in time — and then another, different ad soon after. Rinse, repeat.
- If you want your audience to remember your brand long-term, you need to encourage them to do something in your ad
- The rate at which someone (e.g. a homeowner) forgets information (e.g. about your brand) is lessened if you show them more information at specific intervals.
- Your first few branding campaigns may only warm people up to your brand. Brand awareness doesn’t happen overnight — but it pays off in dividends.
Have we still got your attention? Great!
In the old days, you’d need to prospect at garage sales, put your face on bus stops and deliver branded notepads and magnetic calendars to get your brand in front of potential customers. Luckily, there’s a much easier way now.
In part 1 of this blog series, we explained why brand awareness campaigns (when done right) leave a long-term impression in your audience’s minds and walked through how to target your prospects at each stage of the real estate funnel. In part 2, we focussed on the types of ads your prospects want to see and gave you a long list of real estate agency ads proven to convert.
In this blog post, we give you our best tips for getting the most out of your branding campaigns (and your marketing spend) over time. Do these things, and you’ll leave a long-term impression in the minds of your audience so that they remember you the next time they’re ready to sell, and the next, and when their family or friends need a referral. It’s time to talk strategy.
Why you need a brand marketing strategy for the long term
A single ad probably isn’t going to convince a homeowner to contact you. Back when TV advertising was in its heyday, research consistently supported the ‘Seven-Times’ factor: the average human needed to see an ad seven times before they even noticed it. In today’s rampant digital advertising world — where we are exposed to upwards of 4,000 ads a day — they need to see you more than 20 times before any level of brand recall exists. And you want your audience to do a lot more than just remember you. Your audience needs to see your ads enough times that they learn who you are, and they need to see the right ad — the one that matches their need at that point in time — to convince them to click.
This is where things get a little tricky. The reason why someone might notice and be interested in your ad depends on what stage of the sales journey they’re in. If they’re in the dreaming stage, the reason might be because you’re a local agent who’s giving away cool gear using competition ads. If they’re in the research stage, it might be because you’re proving your negotiation skills through testimonial ads. Or, if they’re in the decision stage, it might be because you’re offering them something valuable in your ads — such as a market analysis report.
The challenge is that your audience could be in any of those stages, and is likely spread across all of them. If you fail to get your brand noticed for the right reasons during any one of these stages, you risk impacting their overall awareness of your brand and the chances of them choosing to list with your agency, when it comes time to sell. So, you need a strategy — not a tactic.
Here are some ideas about how to think strategically about building out a longer brand campaign strategy that works to build your business and reputation over time.
1. Commit to the long haul (it’s worth it!)
“How long does it take to build brand awareness?”
Every marketer would love to know the answer to that question. But it’s not so straightforward…
The time it takes for a brand campaign to be successful depends on a number of factors including the industry, where you’re advertising and your budget. For example, if you’re selling $100 pairs of sneakers then your advertising efforts are likely to have more of an immediate effect. Shoes are the kind of thing we impulse buy a couple of times a year; $100 isn’t too hard to part with. Also, because we buy shoes relatively often, the time between ad exposure and the desire or need to purchase is short.
If you’re selling a $20,000 service (like real estate services, for example), it will take longer. The first few branding campaigns you run may only warm people up to your brand, but you have to get them to remember you when they need your services — which could be months or even years down the track.
This brings us to our second tip…
2. Run consecutive ‘dreaming stage’ brand campaigns to ensure your brand gets noticed
Remember what we just said about people needing to see your ads more than a dozen times? That means you can’t simply run a branding campaign for a few weeks; you need to be advertising your brand consistently.
We recommend that you incorporate a long-term branding campaign targeted at local homeowners in the dreaming phase into your strategy. Ideally, this campaign should always be live. This helps to ensure you capture the attention of the people in your farm when they’re at the top of the funnel.
With that said, you don’t have to keep running the exact same campaign for months on end. It’s a good idea to mix up creatives every month or so, to ward off ad fatigue (when your audience gets too familiar with your ads and subconsciously ignores them).
The changes don’t have to be anything major; changing up your ad copy or image should do the trick. For example, when Easter rolls around, change your ad creatives to incorporate something timely. You could put on an Easter egg hunt at the local park and advertise that, for example.
Instead of launching a whole new brand campaign, just edit your active Spoke campaign! That way, you’ll continue targeting the same audience and you’ll get just the one campaign report, making it easy as pie to track the success of your brand awareness efforts long term.
3. Read and adapt to the data before setting up your ‘research stage’ ads
By casting a wide net with your ‘dreaming’ stage brand campaigns, you’ll learn who is most receptive to your ads. Using that report we’ve just mentioned, you’ll be able to see — in black and white (and Spoke’s trademark green) — the type of people who are clicking on your ads. You should use this information when creating your next set of ads, for a brand campaign targeted at sellers in the ‘research stage’. Remember, this is when you want to be leveraging social proof.
For example, if the data is telling you that almost everyone who clicked on your ads is female and between the ages of 45–60, you could create testimonial and ‘Just Sold’ ads focussed on your sellers that also sit within that demographic. From previous dealings, what do you know about these people’s motivations and needs? Perhaps they’re downsizers. Perhaps they’re going through a separation and dividing the family assets. Perhaps they’re selling up and moving to the beach. Use that knowledge!
4. Encourage your audience to do something to help you be remembered
To move information into long-term memory, a person needs to tap into a brain mechanism called ‘elaborative rehearsal’. This means that the person who sees your ad needs to do something in order to process your marketing message enough to retain it.
The most obvious action you can ask them to take is to call or email you — but many homeowners won’t be ready to take that leap just yet. This is one reason why downloadable resources and infographics are such an effective ad format for homeowners in the ‘decision stage’. You’re providing value and marketing to the long-term memory by encouraging your audience to read something — a market update, for example
Another idea is to direct your campaign to a landing page with something interactive on it, like a quiz. A lighthearted “What suburb should I live in?” quiz is easy to build using a tool like Typeform. If your style is a bit more cheeky, you could even put together a “What kind of Ascot Mum am I?” quiz (Do you drive a white Range Rover? Do you own a Camilla kaftan? Is your favourite restaurant ‘Trattoria Italiano’?).
5. Use retargeting technology at each stage of the funnel
Heard of Ebbinghaus? He came up with a mathematical formula for the rate at which information is forgotten and coined it the forgetting curve.
He made a second discovery: the slope of the forgetting curve can be softened with repetitive delivery of information at increasingly large time gaps. Essentially, what he found was that people are able to retain information for longer periods of time if they are shown the information a couple of times. Makes sense.
But what’s interesting is that the information gap can become more and more spread out, while the rate of retention strengthens.
What all of this means is that your ads need to reach homeowners at these intervals to increase the top-of-mind recall and push them to enquire about your services. Retargeting technology can help with this, by making sure that a person who clicks on one of your ads sees more, different ads for the same thing: your brand.
To get more value from your marketing budget, the next time you run a Spoke campaign designed for people in the ‘dreaming stage’, we recommend removing Your web traffic from your retargeting audiences (you can do this when you set up your campaign, by editing your audience details). This way, all of your ad spend will be used to retarget those people who interacted with your ads — and not those who have otherwise visited your website in the last 90 days.
The people who visit your website already know about your brand. They may have searched for your agency on Google, or clicked a link in your email. The point is, it would be a waste of your ad spend to show these people ads that are purely designed to drive awareness.
The campaigns you design for homeowners in the ‘research stage’ or ‘decision stage’ will be much more impactful on this audience. Spoke will retarget these people by default, so there’s nothing you have to do.
The effort and money you invest in your branding strategy today will start to nurture your future revenue streams. However, building brand awareness — and the subsequent prospect pool that will come from it — is a long game. To do it successfully requires constant in-market presence. Constant, but not the same.
Throughout the course of a campaign, Spoke automatically optimises your ads for you — helping to take some of the heavy lifting off your shoulders by amplifying your best performing ads. Your digital prospecting can to some degree be put on ‘set and forget’, so you can focus your efforts on talking to those people who are ready to start their new home journey right now. With that said, in order to build on your market presence you need to continue updating the specific message and calls-to-action within your ads, as we’ve explained above.
Now you know how to start creating your brand advertising strategy, put it into action with a Spoke campaign!
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