Our Senseless Obsession with Awareness
As communications professionals, we have this obsession with awareness – and not in a good way. Year after year, we create different strategies, different campaigns, different activities with the same goal: “raising awareness”. This is of course, by itself, not senseless. But why and how we pick it over other stages of the funnel or the journey can make it a very unhealthy, a very dark obsession.
You see, most of the time awareness focus picked up over everything else because it is very hard to measure. It needs either expensive tools or activities to measure. And a lot of organisations are not inclined to invest in measuring something that is this hard to assess.
Or sometimes there is not a tradition to measure the communications or marketing productivity in an organisation. As a result, neither the outputs nor outcomes are evaluated.
And when something is not measured, you don’t need to deliver. You can just set up KPIs for output instead of outcome and be done with it. So, as long as you execute the activities you set out to, you are “successful”, you are “performing”.
And this is how generally people do the awareness-raising. Throw in resources down the activities sink and be done with it. Because activities should raise awareness by themselves. No need to find the most efficient audience, message, creative, channel, activity, whatever. As long as the activity is done, consider the awareness raised – check!
Now, this is the senseless way and reason for picking awareness-raising. But there is an honest reason and respectable way of doing it too. If you know what you are doing, if you are not doing it out of laziness or ignorance, if you put the measurement at the core, then there’s nothing wrong with playing for awareness. Because a raised awareness will also raise all other phases with it. But you have to make sure you understand how awareness-raising plays to your bottom-line.
You have to ensure the measurement and evaluation processes and tools are a part of the awareness-raising activities – hell, all the activities. Because that way you will know why you are doing it and if you are doing it efficiently and effectively. Otherwise, your activities are just that: activities that bleed resources without actually accomplishing anything.
Or maybe they do, but you don’t know.