Working in communications we sometimes have to explain the value of what we do. Why is media coverage important? How does it affect the bottom line? How can you measure awareness?

The fact is that while we do specialise in creating awareness, we do it with a specific purpose in mind: achieving a tangible, measurable objective.

You may or may not be familiar with the acronym AIDA: attention, interest, desire, action. It is a marketing term and process that any business, organization or government must stimulate amongst their target audience to achieve a desired result. And AIDA is more or less an easy way of describing how we use awareness as a tool.

Awareness is the first goal of any campaign, not the end objective. We do not sell awareness as a standalone service, it is part of a cycle which we know ends with an action that is important to both the user and provider.

Let’s break this down even further…

Do you have their attention?

Motivating an audience towards a course of action is the ultimate goal of any campaign, but what is always a challenge is persuading the sceptics that awareness building (although somewhat hard to measure) is a worthwhile use of resources. A good campaign should provoke a response and leave an impression – and time, money, and creativity are essential to achieving this.

Next, you need to know where to go and how use your chosen medium. Find out which platforms your audience prefers and meet them there with your message in hand. We all know first impressions count so let them know what you can do for them and do it in a way that is memorable.

The way to do this is by utilising the traditional and new media tools available to help you reach your audience. It used to be that traditional media led to word of mouth and that was the best way to grab attention. Now with the internet at our disposal fostering social engagement can happen on any number of platforms. Word of mouth is spread faster and farther.

Get them interested

Sparking interest is both as simple and as challenging as it sounds.

First off, if your message isn’t of interest to your audience, it is time to retrace your steps and head back to the drawing board. But assuming you know your audience and you have a story to tell that is relevant to them, make it easy for them to access necessary information.

Set up a webpage with details, images, and create a story or experience! If they’re interested enough to visit your website, make sure they stay that way.

Engagement →→ desire

Once they are hooked, the next step is to create mini-ambassadors to help you spread awareness. Do this by ensuring your audience can interact with your brand and share their thoughts and opinions. People (being social creatures we are) love to comment on, share with like minded individuals and become part of a brand story. And it’s probably safe to say that once they have done so, you have created an invested consumer; someone who cares about the message and has a desire to take action.

Time to take action

With your case made and your goal in sight it is time to give your audience the final push toward the next step: Action. Make it as easy as possible for interested parties to understand what needs to be done and when. If you want them to enter a contest, buy a product or service or vote for something, clearly outline the process.

And track these results to ensure that your awareness campaign is on track.

A living example:

A topical case study that vividly illustrates the above is the popular viral campaign initiated by the organization Invisible Children. Their Kony 2012 campaign to bring about the notoriety and arrest of Joseph Kony, Ugandan leader of the Lords Resistance Army, has harnessed the power of the social media to push awareness of the atrocities being perpetrated in central Africa.

With a clear objective in sight, they have used social media, viral marketing, etc. to create attention, viewership and media coverage. Now, as people become aware they are interested in the issue and their desire to help is leading them to take action.

Whether or not you agree with this awareness campaign, all the coverage it has received in the last week had been sparked by awareness building. And this is a framework that any organisation can tailor for use on a smaller scale.

Our job is to help businesses communicate and spread awareness, but this is not awareness just for awareness’ sake; the bigger goal, the ultimate goal is to persuade people towards a course of action that will benefit them.

I’d be interested to hear your opinions on the value of awareness building.