This is a guest article by fatrabbit CREATIVE.
Quick, name a soft drink.
Maybe you said Coca-Cola; perhaps it was Dr. Pepper or 7Up. Either way, the soda that you picked obviously has a strong, memorable branding strategy.
We don’t have to preach to you about the importance of a strong brand (If we did, we wouldn’t be very good at our jobs). Analysts have spent their time, energy and countless kilowatts of brain power trying to create a measurable way to rank brands by how memorable they are.
If only they’d have thought to just ask people. Then, they might have stumbled on a little thing called top-of-mind awareness.
Where is ‘Top of Mind’?
Top-of-mind awareness (or TOMA), is a pretty simple concept with pretty major implications. When consumers are asked which products or brands come to mind first when a particular business sector is mentioned, the one they choose is at their “top of mind”.
Remember our soft drink question at the beginning of this article? The soda that you named has earned its way to the top of your mind. If we asked you to name a fast food chain, the best smartphone, or your favorite newspaper, the same theory would apply. The concept of being “top of mind” is as uncomplicated as that, and the best part is it’s completely measurable.
Coming up with a plan to get to the top of your customers’ minds, however, may prove to be a bit more complex. With so many options available, how can you be sure that your brand’s marketing strategy gives you a fighting chance to be “top of mind” in your particular sector?
Think of the journey to “top of mind” as an uphill battle from the heart to the head.
First, you need your customers to love you. Then, you need them to think of you first when they’re in need of your product or service — no matter how far into the future that may be. That being said, you need a long-term plan of attack to not just get “top of mind”, but stay there.
The 5-Point Battle Plan for ‘Top of Mind’ Status
1. Get entrenched for the long term.
According to Chilton Research, 34% of major-purchase consumers waited at least seven months to complete their purchase. 27% more bought over a year later. If over 60% of your potential customers are waiting that long to make a final decision, it’s essential you stay fresh in their minds over that period. If not, you’ll have done nothing but create a lead for someone else to close.
2. Ensure you can be found.
If your three least-favorite letters of the alphabet are “SEO”, now’s the time to change your tune. After all, there’s no point wasting your company’s resources if no one knows you exist. Optimize your website, engage actively in link building, employ keyword strategies and utilize thought leadership opportunities to establish your credibility with strong content. Like it or not, if you don’t work on your SEO, you’re only going to hurt three other letters: ROI.
3. Nurture leads with content-rich marketing.
Over this period of time, you’ll have the opportunity to enhance your brand’s value and build credibility with your leads. Now’s not the time to be annoying or vapid with your content. If you’re going to employ a strategy like email marketing (or a physical newsletter), make sure the content is rich and valuable – to your customers.
Don’t fall into the trap of spinning content with yourself in mind. What you find interesting and valuable may be of no use to your audience. Whatever your “top of mind” plan is, make sure it includes content that bolsters your brand’s value.
4. Don’t be cute. Be informative.
This is not an age of naiveté; customers know you have something to sell, and you want to sell it to them. While your message doesn’t need to be overt, don’t insult your audience’s intelligence by pretending the eventual sale doesn’t exist. Instead, buy into what they want: information. If you have a product, tell them about it. If you provide a service, explain why it’s superior.
Don’t push the sale; push why they should buy.
5. Stop competing.
It’s not as counterintuitive as you think. If your marketing content involves your competitors, doesn’t that just put them in your audience’s mind? Don’t waste time talking down your competition; instead, talk up yourself. Better yet, learn to talk less and listen more. Stop spending your time downplaying other brands and start collecting and analyzing data and feedback from your customers and leads.
‘Top of Mind’ Is Accessible to Everyone
Many people (wrongly) assume that “top of mind” status is reserved for the big boys with deep pockets and vast resources. Of course, this is often the case – Nike dominates the athletic shoe sector, McDonald’s has cornered fast food, and so on. But if you’re a small to medium-sized business (or even a one-man show), take heart: there’s more than one way to win the “top of mind” battle.
No matter how global the business world gets, consumers will always reserve room for a brand with which they can connect emotionally.
It’s how a corner coffee shop stays in business when the major chain moves in across town. As pervasive as the larger competition’s marketing may be, there is something to be said for personalized touch, community ties and the “look and feel” of home.
Whatever the size of your business, it’s vital to remember that brand awareness is ultimately as (or more) important that brand aesthetics. Employing a design firm with a firm understanding of you and your target customer is essential.
With the right strategy, content-rich marketing and a strong brand, you will find yourself first on your audience’s mind when they’re ready to make a purchase – no matter the size of your business.
How do you get to ‘top of mind’?