Without awareness, there’s no relationship

Our friends at Influencer50 said in a recent post that awareness is a mistaken measure to focus on, especially for larger firms. Often major players have high awareness by default, so they need to focus on favourability rather than awareness. However, awareness can differ widely – even for major firms. Because awareness is a precondition for favourability, we feel it would be mistaken to generalise from Influencer50’s post that awareness is not an appropriate measure.

We think that this diagram from the CMO Council is a useful guide to why. Awareness one of a set of measures that build on top of each other, and which allow firms to see what percentage of targets are at each level. Firms use marketing activities to help maximise these numbers, and to identify of there’s a bottleneck at particular stages. Large firms often have high awareness but, unless you measure that, you cannot be certain that there’s a problem at that stage.

This is specially important for analyst relations professionals because firms with high awareness in the wider business community might not be well know to analysts. For example, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are amongst the top dozen services firms in terms of market share, but neither is among the 25 firms most written about by analysts. Awareness of those firms as services providers is low, even if they are household names.

One common issue is how the question is posed. If I ask you if you’re heard of Lockheed Martin, then the answer’s perhaps yes. But if I ask you to name as many IT services firms as you can, then perhaps you’re not going to mention them – and almost certainly not in the first ten or twelve.

Another problem with awareness is that it can be used as a protection against the truth. For example, in Britain there are four major telephone networks, each with between 16 and 19 million subscribers. They are all household names. One of these vendors focusses on awareness very heavily, almost to the exclusion of other measures. The reality is that, given its position as one of four equally well-known brands, there’s a limit on how far the brand can slip up or down relative to the competition. Their CMO is safe from bad results but, of course, the marketing function might be turning a blind eye to other measures.

So, while awareness is a necessary measure for brands, it’s not the only one.

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