I never thought I would say this, but doing something just because it “builds brand awareness” is a waste of time. As a career marketing professional, I have spent years of my life helping companies build brand awareness, and now I am saying it is a waste of time?

I am, with the following explanation: If building brand awareness is your end game, if you have no strategy to convert awareness to interest or purchase, it is a waste of time. If you have no plan beyond hoping someone will call you after they see your ad, you are wasting your money.

Unfortunately, all too often that is the only answer I get when I ask business owners why they invest in one marketing strategy or another.  I am running TV ads for “brand awareness.” I sponsor little league teams for “brand awareness” or I use social media to build “brand awareness.”


Every day I see small business owners jump into social media to “get their name out there.” According to the respondents in our social media survey, building brand awareness is the most prevalent reason for participating in social media (83%).

The problem? Banking on customers beating a path to your door just because they heard your name is setting yourself up for disappointment.

Awareness isn’t a bad start, but it is only the first step in the sales process, which includes interest, purchase and loyalty.  Social media can be a part of all those steps.

Social media will drive traffic, but what will you do when people arrive at your website?

Are you simply driving them to your home page or do you have specific landing pages, calls to action, unique offers or rewards?  Do you offer interesting content which will encourage visitors to learn more?

Do you hope visitors will sign up for your newsletter or do you have specific offers such as down loads and free trials?  And once you capture an email address, do you have a conversion strategy in place with a series of touches to move prospects along a path to ultimately become customers?

If you are going to invest time in social media, and I think you should, invest time creating a plan to use social media in all facets of the sales process, not just building branding awareness.


We are still collecting data in our 2012 small business social media survey.  It will only take a few minutes to answer the questions about how you are using social media.