Monday, June 8, 2009

Is Your Brand Gaining Share of Mind?

All brands are created and live in the human mind, not the bosom of your company. Likewise, all sales begin inside the consumer’s head. If you’re a marketer, it’s important to wholeheartedly embrace this reality, especially if you’re selling to Baby Boomers. They’re very individualistic, thoughtful consumers, so they’ll form their own attitudes and opinions about your brand and act accordingly. That means you have to be insightful, sensitive and meaningful in the way you communicate with them.

When you’re tying to motivate Boomers, you can’t just ride the wave of the latest fad. Boomers are far more sophisticated shoppers than trendy teens and status-seeking Gen Xers and Yers. With Boomers, you actually have to create a brand that’s worthy of their time, attention and dollars. To gain mindshare with Boomers, you must carefully craft your advertising and marcom in a way that builds your brand’s image while making the sale.

Carving out a share of mind is easy to understand but difficult to accomplish, because it takes considerable talent and time to accomplish the task. Perhaps that’s why so many contemporary marketers don’t bother, going for the quick hit instead. That may work temporarily for an “On Sale Today Only!” hustler; however focusing on this approach is likely to relegate the brand to the LaBrea Tar Pits of clueless companies, where it will wallow with the likes of General Motors, Chrysler and other has-beens. Oddly enough, many of these former powerhouses subscribed to share-of-mind advertising and marcom during their glory years. But eventually they stopped brand-building, lost focus, and their businesses got derailed.

Companies that are relentlessly focused on hyping rather than brand building, may generate floor traffic by offering inducements garnished with a sense of urgency, but ultimately that myopic approach can be as harmful to a brand’s well-being as shoddy products and services.

Almost any business can make a few bucks by shouting “Buy Now Or Die!,” but lasting riches come to those companies that make a real effort to build a brand personality based on a credible story that people can come to know and trust over time. This approach is particularly important when targeting Boomers, because they’re at a stage in life where they value long-term relationships over brief flings.

Share-of-mind advertising is more like a courtship than a sales pitch. It sells gently but persistently, presenting products and services in a way that allows Boomers to decide what the brand actually means and whether it deserves a place in their lives. As confidence in the brand grows, so do profitable sales and brand equity.

When done with flair, imagination, humor and warmth, share-of-mind advertising can transform a parity product into an industry leader. Apple, Budweiser and Nike are just a few of the consistent brand builders who dominate sales in their crowded, competitive categories.

The one thing these brands have in common is a history of doing effective share-of-mind advertising. Through the years they have looked, acted and communicated like credible, reliable leaders, so consumers know them, trust them and buy from them.

Of course, if you want to do share-of-mind advertising and marcom, you must discover your brand’s Big Idea, and then use it to create a unique position that has the power to carve out a meaningful niche in the Boomer mind. To start the process, you need to have a healthy brainstorm or two. Of course, that’s easier said than done, so in the next few blogs I’ll cover some simple ways for you and your team to really get your creative juices flowing. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort, because a truly Big Idea can help your brand gain a greater share of mind.

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