Thursday, April 10, 2008

What "awareness" really means

What does it mean when advertisers say they're trying to "increase awareness"? Sometimes, of course, it means just that--they simply want people to know about their product or service. But more often, it means they don't know what they want to accomplish. No one wants to admit that, of course, so they say they're striving to "increase awareness," knowing it sounds better than "I don't know."

The problem is that while "increasing awareness" sounds impressive, "awareness" is almost impossible to measure. And since it can't be measured, it also can't be deemed a failure--which makes "awareness" advertising seem like a pretty safe bet. This leads to even more "awareness" advertising, and before long, you've convinced yourself that you must be increasing awareness--after all, look at all the ads you've run!

So the next time you hear someone say they're trying to "increase awareness," ask what that means. It may be that they actually want to generate inquiries, or increase sales. If so, measure that. But if not, dig deeper. If it can't be measured, it may not be worth doing at all.

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