How to Gain Top-of-Mind Awareness in a Cost-Conscious World

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As consumers continue to tighten their belts in order to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets, businesses are finding that attracting buyers for their products and services is tougher than ever. Cost- and quality-conscious consumers looking for the most bang for their buck are scrutinizing every buying decision they make in the hopes of attaining the best product or service for the fairest price. As a result, many businesses may find that their phones aren't ringing as much as they used to, and the numbers of customers walking in their doors may be diminishing with every passing week.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar, there is hope. In this age of increased consumer financial consciousness, getting top-of-mind awareness will set you apart from the competition. What is top-of-mind awareness? It's when people think of you first to fulfill their product or service needs. It's when magazines quote you and publish your articles and when local and even national radio and TV shows feature you as a guest expert. It's when customers and prospects say, "I've seen your company (or your product or your service) everywhere." But most important, it's when people purchase your products or services because they know your company's name and they perceive you as the marketplace leader.

Gaining top-of-mind awareness should be the number-one goal of your company's publicity efforts. In fact, when done correctly, effective publicity will not only lead to increased sales and greater credibility but will also help you develop name recognition and make you stand out in the eyes of your prospects. Here's how the top companies use publicity to enhance their top-of-mind awareness.

  1. Develop your "hook."

    No one wants to buy a mediocre product or hire you for an average service. They can get mediocre or average anywhere. That's why you must develop a hook—a unique angle—that sets you apart from your competition. For example, suppose your company sells office supplies—something people can get from any local mega-store. In order to stand out in your prospects' minds, you can "hook" them with free delivery, same-day delivery, or even a free subscription to their favorite trade journal. The more you can differentiate your company from the "old way," the more recognition and attention you'll attract.

  2. Write articles.

    Smart company presidents and business owners know they must constantly stay in the public's eye. Getting published in a magazine, trade journal, or local newspaper is an excellent way to keep the company's name circulating throughout the general public and to enable the company leader or business owner to become perceived as an expert. Why an article? Because articles allow you to reach hundreds of thousands of people for free, and you'll receive the same amount of clout as well-known authors. Additionally, you can reprint your published articles and use them as promotional items. What customer wouldn't appreciate a little free information in the form of an article? When prospects and current customers see that your company leaders have an impressive list of published pieces, they'll consider you an industry leader and will want to do business with you. Regardless of your industry or background, you and your staff undoubtedly have plenty of ideas you could write about. Make your articles stand out by revealing useful information your target customer can implement today.

  3. Make phone calls to editors, reporters, and producers.

    Phone calls are the most effective way to build rapport with the media. And the more you can get the media to remember you, the more likely they'll be to call you when something of importance happens in your industry. Additionally, by talking with an editor, reporter, or producer, you can learn exactly what he or she needs and can customize your message for his or her audience. Whenever you have an article or show idea, call the appropriate media personnel and present your topic. Ask questions such as "What are your readers (or viewers or listeners) looking for?" "What are you looking for?" and "What angle do you want the story to take?" Make changes to your initial idea based on the answers you get. If you receive a "no" response, ask, "What don't you like?" and adapt your presentation on the spot. The more you customize your message to the person's particular audience, the more likely you are to be his or her next guest expert or featured author.

  4. Send fax-outs and mail-outs.

    If you need to reach a large audience in a short period of time, fax-outs and mail-outs are ideal. They allow you to quickly and easily target key people who will get you the most publicity. Some examples of items you can fax and/or mail are press releases, newly published articles, product specials, and anything else that can get you publicity. Watch the breaking news, and if something ties in with your industry, your product offering, or your services, fax a press release to newspapers offering your take as an expert to interview regarding the situation. Likewise, if you mail magazines a sampling of your articles on some topic that would interest their readers, the editors will call you in order to get the whole story or to interview you for a story they are currently writing. The key is to target your audience and keep your message customized for their unique needs.
Top-of-mind awareness is your ticket to a successful business. The more publicity you generate and the more people are aware of you and what your company offers, the higher your chances for being the one your customers and prospects turn to for their buying needs. Remember, in this age of economic uncertainty, great products and services alone are not enough to make buyers take notice. Rather, it's the frequency of your company's name, product, or service being heard over and over that will make customers take action and buy from you today.

About the Author:

Pam Lontos is the owner of PR/PR, a public relations firm that specializes in professional speakers and authors. Having been an author, speaker, and former VP of Disney's Shamrock Broadcasting, she knows the ropes of getting good publicity and how to use it to really boost sales. Call for a free consultation at 407-299-6128.
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