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David Johnson

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Top of Mind Awareness is one of those terms you hear thrown around a lot by marketing reps. Wikipedia defines it as "Owning the space that your product or service occupies between your prospects' ears. That way, when they're ready to buy they think of you first." One of their definitions anyway, and the one I liked the most!

When a brand, service, or product is able to achieve top of the mind awareness they ensure that when a consumer comes into the market for their particular product or service, they are able to mentally push aside all of the current advertising they are seeing and think of them. Traditionally, this was done by being memorable, consistent and by repeatedly marketing their unique selling position or USP. Given that traditional advertising breeds mistrust (Neilson did a study and found that we trust only 14% of the ads we see) can you imagine how expensive a traditional top of the mind awareness campaign can be? That's where social media comes and why it's the new top of mind.

SEO Is Super Important, But...

Let's face it. When people go to Google or other search engines it's because they are searching for an answer. It could be the answer to the question, "Where can I find the best deal on a 2010 Ford Fusion," or "Where can I find financing, my bank turned me down?" Whatever it happens to be they are searching because they DON'T know the answer.

What would happen if they did know the answers to those questions and instead of typing in a search query in some search engine somewhere they typed your URL into the address bar? Not only would there be a bigger chance that they would submit a lead but they would close at a higher rate as well, that's because you have already built trust with them by creating top of the mind awareness.

Of course you should ALWAYS optimize your website for search but you should also include social media induced top of the mind awareness strategies into your online marketing mix. Here are 5 tips to get you started in the right direction.

1. Start A Blog

There is no better way to create authority, top of the mind and influence than through the creation and authoring of your own blog. As I stated in the previous paragraphs the only reason somebody goes to a search engine is because they want an answer to a specific question but if they already know the answer before the need for an answer surfaces then you have done your job in creating top of mind awareness.

2. Create A Facebook Fan Page

Okay, I know, you've heard this before and you have a fan page but it's not all that you thought it would be, or what you were lead to think it would be. Most people will tell you that you should pitch on your fan page, and odds are you're probably not. In fact you're probably using it to showcase your customers, the exciting stuff that's going on in your world but still you're not seeing any return on time investment, its worthless right?

Of course it is, if you're NOT doing it the right way that is. What's the right way you ask? Engagement. Spend your time asking though provoking questions, running contests and giving stuff away. You want your fans (or likers?) to "like" your posts or better yet comment on them. Talk about local news, showcase that you're part of the community, in fact you can even allow other local business to start discussions on your fan page, this shows you are one of "us" instead of one of "them."

3. Don't Pitch, Let Others Do It For You

Strange isn't it? Strange that the less you pitch the more you sell from your social media efforts, but it's true! Look at what Ford has done with the Fiesta Movement, what can you do to get your fans, followers, customers, or other types of connections to create content for you? What if you did an ongoing, monthly contest where customers created videos about their experience with their sales person.

The rules could be that the sales person with the most videos got a bonus at the end of the month and each customer that created a video could win dinner for two. Of course they would have to label the video with the businesses name and upload it to YouTube to enter the contest but just think about how many videos you could have in just a few short months, these videos would most definitely build top of mind by influencing everybody that watches them.

4. Know Today's Customers

Customers today are too busy, skeptical, cautious, tired of all the sales pressure, and confused about all the choices available to them, you should adjust your marketing accordingly. What I mean by that is everything you do should address one or all of those. Social media is a great tool to do just that!

Battle Skepticism With: As I mentioned in the second paragraph, consumers only trust 14% of the ads they see but 78% of what a peer recommends. That's why it's essential that you get your customers to talk about you on their own social graphs, not only will that defeat skepticism it will build top of mind.

Addressing Cautious Customers: Answer every question, don't hide behind half answers because you just want to get them in the store. Know that today's customer wants to know ALL the facts before they comment. You could address this through blogs and FAQ's.

Forgo The Sales Pressure: You could have the least amount of sales pressure of all your competitors but if you talk about yourself too much on your social networks people will equate that to sales pressure and will cost you business and top of mind.

Helping Busy Customers: We're too busy these days to spend time haggling price, searching for the right deal or shopping around. Showcase the fact that you willing go the extra mile by getting your past customers to comment about or create videos on, how much time you saved them.

End The Confusion: Choices are everywhere and its easier than ever to shop around with the click of a mouse. But, with that, comes confusion. While we all like choices, the more there is the more confused people become. Most people don't have the time to research all their choices but there are a lot of things you can do to help them with that. For instance you could do a video showcasing your product, taking the time to explain exactly what it is, what it does and the many features it has. Don't use these videos to pitch but to showcase your products.

5. Top of Mind By Association

Being part of the clubs, groups, or associations your customers are part of is a great way to build top of mind. I don't what you to think of social media as just ONLINE, take away the technology aspect of it and you are left with people, people talking to people. Of course there are many different online groups you can be part of as well but think about where you can go in your local market and network. If you really want to create top of mind get out there and talk to people. When somebody has the need for your product they will think of you because you are already being accepted by their peers. That's influence by association.

Social Media Is Top Of Mind

Use it wisely, create a strategy and stick to it. Social marketing won't happen overnight but one day you will wake up see a ton of leads in your inbox, a ton more traffic to your website and dozens more calls and think that it did happen overnight. Embrace the new media but embrace it smartly, take advantage of it and give, give, give. Top of mind will be yours!

David Johnson is the Digital Marketing Strategist for and Next Generation Dealer Services.

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