Marketing Strategy

Awareness – the most pointless metric ever?

If your campaign raises awareness, you’ve failed.

Sorry, but it’s true.

There’s only one thing that matters in marketing – and that’s action.

Awareness is a pointless metric when all’s said and done.

I’m aware of the Ford brand (but I sure as hell won’t be buying one).  I’m aware of the Apple brand (but I love my Android). You get the picture.

Some people love it.

After all, it’s easily measurable.

“Have you heard of Brand X – Yes/No?


Whoop whoop job done, now go crack a beer on the patio.

And it’s easily achieved – if you want the people of your city to be aware of something, cover the sidewalks with cleverly thought out advertising, buy every billboard going and sponsor all of the radio or TV shows available so that only the dead can avoid your messaging.


But it’s not enough.

Better than awareness is consideration.

“Are you aware of the product?”


“Would you consider buying the product?”


At least this buys you another question in the event of a No or a Maybe:

Why not?” (Or – “What could we do to really excite you about the product?“)

If you can get someone to consider you, that’s half a job done.

But this still isn’t enough.

Consideration puts you in league with the rest of the market.

You’re in competition in a shared space.

You have the chance of winning.  Equally, you have the chance of losing.  Consumers are like that, fickle, able to make up their own minds against a set of criteria which are uniquely personal to them.

Gunning for consideration is a start, but it’s not really compelling.

What you need to be aiming for is action.

Marketing, being the discipline that it is, is all about action and behaviour.  Don’t just think PSAs and do-good comms.  If you want someone to buy your product, you’ve got to influence their behaviour and their actions.

Purchases are actions.  Advocacy is an action.  And so on.

You need to make it clear, compelling and (preferably) a cinch to do.

But you must aim for action.  Get the consumer to do what you want – because they want to do it – and you’ll step right over the ‘awareness’ and ‘consideration’ long-burn phases and get right to the heart of the matter.

So next time your CEO tells you to “raise awareness of the brand”, stop them dead in their tracks, fix them with your best steely glare and ask them this:

“But what do you want the consumer to actually DO?”

Only by answering this question will you know what’s needed, what will make a difference and how you can start to design your strategy around the actual outcome required…

Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.

The image for this post comes from nickstone333 on Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.


2 thoughts on “Awareness – the most pointless metric ever?

  1. Neil… loved it and couldn’t agree more. I use to get in a semi argument with my dad, regarding a specific commercial. (first off, my dad is smart as hell, good business sense, a chemical engineer, but who lacks common sense at times) Remember that jeans commercial, I think it was Wrangler… where the girl is driving down a deserted highway and comes across a guy walking the road in jeans. She passes him by, then backs up, and says.. are those Wrangler’s? The guy replies,yes they are. And then she drives off. It still didn’t get me to buy those jeans. My dad’s argument was, yes, but son, you still remember that commercial. Agreed… but I am not going out to buy them.. 🙂

  2. While I 1,984,398% agree with the fact that awareness is not enough, I would not say it’s pointless. I agree 3,243,211% that awareness is a step in the ultimate taking of an action because if you’re not aware of something, there’s no way you’ll do anything with it. This was certainly illustrated in this post, but I would like to thank you for allowing me to make you aware that there is someone on the Earth who sees thing in extremely large percentage figures that most others wouldn’t think about 🙂

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