3 Steps to Increase Brand Awareness, Part 2

Step 2: Show Possible Solutions

When banking and financial services marketers took IMN’s 2014 Content Marketing Survey, they said increasing brand awareness is their primary content marketing goal.

IMN wants to break down building brand awareness into three easy-to-follow steps. Although these steps are geared toward banking and financial services brands, any brand can apply the general practices and ideas promoted.

As discussed in the previous post, successful brand awareness happens first when consumers understand they have a problem. Until they believe their situation is lacking in some area, they won’t feel motivated to seek solutions—including your solutions—to their problem.

So what happens after your potential clients determine they have financial problems or need a new or additional financial service?

Before you present your solution to their problems, guide them through some possible solutions.

Your audience understands: Their current financial status isn’t meeting their needs.

They feel dissatisfied with their current financial status. Maybe they’re reconsidering their choice of agent, or they wish they had more selection in financial products.

However, they aren’t quite ready to switch to your brand. You attempt to sell them on your loan or insurance policies, but they seem less interested than before. In fact, they seem overwhelmed.

Why aren’t potential clients ready to ask your brand to help solve their financial problems?

Well, your audience may suffer from information overload when faced with a mountain of options.


The internet and other digital technological advances keep people connected and informed. We are able to know, discover, search, and share more than ever before.

However, so much information exists that sifting through it can sometimes feel like climbing a mountain.

When your audience is searching for possible solutions to their problem, they want valid information from a source they can trust. Your mission is to be that trustworthy source.

If you start selling your audience on what your brand offers to solve their problem, they may not trust you or your brand. That distrust can even turn them away from trusting future communications from your brand.

While it may sound strange, the second step to building better is to highlight a number of possible solutions to your audience’s problems.

Step 2: Present possible solutions to your audience. Highlight the benefits and drawbacks of each type, showing that one type—your type—is the clear winner.


Imagine some friends grab dinner at a pizza place. They open the menus, excited to pick a few pies and feast. However, one by one they go quiet.

Eventually, someone says, “Wow, I didn’t know pizza came in so many ways.”

Gourmet ingredients, specialty pies, crust type, sauces, add-ons, pie size—if there’s a way to eat pizza, it’s on the menu.

Unfortunately, what the menu doesn’t include are any “most popular” or “house favorite” indicators. The group of friends has no idea which pizza options are going to work best for them, even if they know personal tastes and preferences well enough to judge.

If the menu provided a better context for the pizza selection, the friends could make a choice more easily and enjoy a rewarding dining experience.

The example may sound silly, but research has shown a “paradox of choice” may exist. Too many choices for a solution can lead to consumers choosing nothing instead.

Recently PBS Newshour released a follow-up segment on choice paralysis. Strikingly, people faced with too many options for retirement plans or medical insurance suffered in making a decision.

From the transcript of the segment with Barry Schwartz, psychology professor and author of The Paradox of Choice:

“[Sheena] Iyengar, the author of the original [paradox of choice] study, has published evidence of a similar result when it comes to employee participation in retirement plans. When there are lots of mutual fund options available, fewer people participate than when there are only a few, even though by failing to participate, employees pass up matching money from their employers.

Similar results have also been found by Tim Rice and Yaniv Hanoch in studies of sign-ups for the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. I can tell you that based on this research, if I were designing the Affordable Care Act and hoping for large enrollments, I would certainly have offered people fewer options than are available in most states.” (Emphasis added)

The key takeaway for banking and financial services brands: Choosing the right solution to a complex financial issue can be intimidating for the average consumer, so help them navigate their options before prescribing or selling your solution.

Pro tip: Avoid temptation to sell your brand’s specific solution in the second step. Don’t push your brand’s agenda beyond introducing the type of solution your brand offers as the ideal solution in this stage.


Don’t take advantage of information overload and uncertainty when building better brand awareness. Instead, help guide your audience through the various solutions to their problem. If you show them potential solutions, you can begin to convince them to accept your brand as the best choice.

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