Before you can make a sale, you’ve got to get people in your store.  Before you do that, they’ve got to know about you, what you offer, and what makes your business different.

Imagine this:  You’re a salesperson and you walk into a business for the first time to make a sale.  You’re shown into the office of the big boss.  Just as you start to launch into your pitch, he interrupts you and says:

“I don’t know who you are.

I don’t know your company.

I don’t know your company’s products.

I don’t know your company stands for.

I don’t know your company’s customers.

I don’t know your company’s reputation.”

Then, he stops, look you in the eye and says:  “Now what was it you wanted to sell me?”

Wow.  Think you’re going to make the sale on this trip?

The fact is the sales process starts well before your salesperson walks in the door or – in the case of your store – before the customer ever walks through your door.  If they don’t know who you are, what you do, and where you are, is it any wonder people don’t come to your place or call you up to do business?

We’ll put it this way: You have to invite them to do business with you.  This is true, whether it’s a new store or one that’s been around forever.  You have to continue to invite people to do business with you.

And think about this: people are getting hundreds of invitations every day, including invitations for your competitors.

The more you invite people to your store, the more you help create awareness of your store or products.  What you’re really trying to do is plant that little seed in their minds.  Over time, it will take root – nurtured by constant reinforcement – and grow into recognition.  Then, when people are finally in the market to buy something, they’ve already got you on their minds (or if you buy the cheesy seed analogy, in their minds).

It’s true.  Over time, Share of mind = Share of market.

Quick Quiz!

Maybe you’ve seen this quick quiz.   Don Benton of National Advertising Consultants uses a version of this exercise to show how some companies have created share of mind.

We’re going to put up several categories.  We want you to look at each category and, as-quickly-as-you-can, write down the first name that jumps to your mind.  Ready, go!

Fast food restaurant                _________________________


Overnight delivery company  _________________________


Soft drink                                 _________________________


Another soft drink                   ­_________________________


Tires                                        _________________________


Mattress                                  _________________________



When you’re ready to see how you stack up to others, scroll down the page.



Quick Quiz! Answers

 OK, let see how your answers compare to those that are mentioned most often:

Name a fast food restaurant : McDonald’s

Overnight delivery company  : Fed-Ex

Soft Drink : Coke

Another Soft Drink : Pepsi

Tires : Goodyear

Mattresses : Sealy

Of course it’s not important that you named the same companies we did.  What’s important is what makes you think of these companies first.  Each of these companies has created Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA). The whole TOMA thing starts with the building of your BRAND. Assuming you’ve found your point-of-difference and assembled your Weapon of Mass Distinction, you’re ready to market your brand.

Your brand is your identity – who you are and what you sell.  It’s not just the fancy wrappings; it’s truly the essence of your product.

Coke’s brand isn’t the red can or even the Coca-Cola logo.  It’s the Coke itself.  It’s the fssst sound you get when you pop the tab, the swirl of carbonation in your mouth, and the taste.

Sometimes, it takes the fancy packaging to get people to check out your brand.  Your brand is really what you are when you strip away all the fancy wrappings.  It may be your charming personality that gets you the first date, but it’s who you really are that determines whether you’ll spend a lifetime with someone.

If enough people know your BRAND, you have achieved Top of Mind Awareness.  This happens when your awareness reaches critical mass.  That kind of AWARENESS generates TRAFFIC to your location.

If they don’t come to your business, they can’t buy.  TRAFFIC makes people SHOPPERS or potential customers.

Once they’re at your store, it’s your job to keep them coming back…to turn SHOPPERS into CUSTOMERS!

If they don’t know who you are, where you are, or what you do, they‘ll never walk in the door.

It’s worth repeating. Over time, Share of mind = Share of market.





If I Had a Nickel…

“I don’t need to advertise.  I’ve been here 25 years in the same location.”  If we had a nickel for every time we heard that, why we…uh… still wouldn’t have enough for a double latte at Starbucks.

Maybe you’ve said it.  And, it may have worked at one time.

We don’t live in that time anymore.

We’re a mobile society now.  At one time, people spent their entire lives in one town, in one job, in one part of the country.  Today, the average Baby Boomer will have had 9.6 jobs before they reach age 36, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  During that time period, they’ve moved – new homes, new towns, new states.

Newcomers to a community have no idea you’ve been in business all those years.  They don’t know who you are, or where you are, or what you do.

Not only don’t they know you, but you’re at a huge disadvantage with them.  When people move, they tend to look for familiar, safe names.  Brands and companies they’ve used and shopped before.  Great if you’re running a national chain store or a franchise, but not if you’re a local legend.

And when times are tough, people take less risk than ever.  If they’ve never done business with you before, they’re even less likely to do business with you now.

And, think about this.  Let’s say there’s a young woman who has only had one job and she’s lived in town her entire life.  Now, she’s married, pregnant, and about to buy her first home.  Would she be a good prospect for an insurance agent?  You bet.

But it doesn’t matter that you’ve been doing business since before she was alive.  She has only come in to “consumer consciousness” in the last few months.  She’s never thought about insurance before.

If she doesn’t hear your message when she’s ready, she’s not buying from you.

It’s not just the married-pregnant-new homeowner that’s shopping for your services; a new generation is coming into consciousness every day.

Would you throw a party and not invite people?

Don’t assume because you’ve been there forever, people know who you are.

A friend of ours was shopping for a big screen TV recently.  He told us he was choosing between Best Buy and just ordering it on Amazon.  When we asked if he had shopped one particular local store, he said, “I didn’t know they were still in business.”  They were.

And, they’d been in the same location for more than 20 years. That was well before both Best Buy and Amazon even came into existence …and flooded the airwaves and internet to invite customers into their store.

Years in business does not equal Top of Mind Awareness.