By Samuel Thimothy, VP at OneIMS.com

Awareness is the first step in building your brand. Whether you’re a startup, a solopreneur or an already established business, growth comes from increasing the number of individuals who know and are excited about your business. However, it isn’t easy to make an impression. There are hundreds of other companies and organizations trying to attract your audience’s attention. Before you even compete for a lead’s business, you need to compete for their attention.

I’ve tried dozens of strategies to increase awareness of my agency. Some have worked while others didn’t generate the kind of attention I was hoping for — but that’s business, right? Through this trial and error, here are some of my favorite ways to build brand awareness.

1. Run a giveaway or contest.

Everyone loves getting something for free — even if you’re in the business to business (B2B) world. Giving away something for free, such as a free month of services or a free strategy session, can help you increase your pool of leads and reach new audience members.

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In order to run a giveaway or contest, you first need to set the rules. Determine what prize you’re going to offer, how long entrants will have to submit their information and how you’ll ultimately choose a winner. Make sure your prize is worth the effort to enter — you don’t want to require a ton of investment for a small winning.

2. Focus your partnerships.

Tapping into a business partner’s audience pools is a great way to build awareness quickly. If you share the same group of customers (but you’re not competitors), you could generate a solid group of new leads.

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Ask partners to share your social posts, feature you in their newsletters or submit a guest post to their site. If you want to go deeper, create something together such as a webinar or podcast. Regardless of what you choose to do, make sure it is mutually beneficial for both you and your partner.

3. Boost your search engine presence.

Search engine marketing tactics, including SEO and paid ads, are nothing new for most entrepreneurs. However, they are some of the best ways to boost your brand awareness. A revamp of your search engine marketing strategy can bring great results.

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Take a look at the keywords you’re targeting with SEO and paid ads. Are there any other paths you should explore? Continuing to grow your search engine presence by shifting up the words and results pages you’re targeting can get you in front of a strong new audience.

4. Step up on social media.

It can be difficult to create a strong social media presence. You need to be quick, clever and interesting — something that doesn’t come naturally to all businesses. But having a strong social media presence can be a great way to boost awareness about your brand.

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The key to being popular on social media is to be yourself — regardless of who that may be. If it seems like you’re trying too hard (or not trying hard enough), your audience will notice. Instead, use language that is engaging and encourages potential customers to interact, comment or share.

5. Create a referral program.

If you need to generate awareness about your brand quickly, your current customers are your best salespeople. Creating a referral program allows them to get involved in your growth and encourages them to connect you with their friends and family.

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Develop a program that rewards customers for introducing you to new leads. Encourage them to share your social posts, refer you to their friends and family or just start spreading the word.

6. Diversify your content.

I’m big on diversifying the content I create. I like to go beyond blog posts and social content and dip into research, videos, infographics and more. It’s a great way to boost brand awareness and attract new leads.

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Different people will engage with different kinds of content. In order to reach as many as possible, you need to create a variety of pieces. Start by repurposing content you’ve already created, such as turning blog posts into videos.

There are dozens of other ways you can increase awareness about your brand. It all depends on where your audience spends their time online and how they might notice you. Adjust your brand awareness strategy to meet their needs. Pay close attention to what they’re engaging with, who they’re following on social media and what they’re searching. You can then use this information to refine your strategy and start reaching your target audience more efficiently.

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Samuel Thimothy is the VP at OneIMS.com, an inbound marketing agency, and co-founded Clickx.io, the digital marketing intelligence platform.