In my book, I talk about how important it is to developing TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) for your business through your advertising.
There are filters at work in your customer’s mind which help to protect them from information overload. Well, in addition to those filters, your customer’s mind is also filled with assorted hierarchies which we’ll refer to as “TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) ladders of the mind.” These assorted ladders help you to decide quickly and easily where you’ll go for certain products or services.
The TOMA ladder theory is yet another “brain protection” device. This theory assumes that each ladder has on average from three to five “rungs.” By keeping information organized in this manner, you only have to run through a mental list of three to five stores where you can run to pick up a particular product instead of trying to scan every possible place you could go to get the product.
Take for example the simple act of buying milk. When you need milk, you mentally access your mind’s TOMA ladder to see which purveyor of milk is currently holding the number one position. Most of us will only check the first three rungs, though if pressed an individual may be able to list 5 or even 9 stores, given enough time.
Quick! Name all the stores where you can go to purchase a gallon of milk.
If you are selling milk then it’s your marketing goal to get your business’ name on your customer’s mental “short list.
One way to "win" the TOMA game is to create your very own category.
When Head and Shoulders shampoo was introduced, it had to compete with literally hundreds of other shampoo brands in the marketplace. Instead of trying to compete on the “shampoo” TOMA ladder of the mind, Head and Shoulders took a different approach and created a new TOMA ladder; the “dandruff shampoo” category. Since no one was competing in that “niche”, Head and Shoulders dominated the niche and remains the TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) leader of that category years later.
Deciding to create a new TOMA category was a bold move that was very successful for the product.
The same is true on the internet. New media specialist Chris Garret outlines this same principle in his post Better Blog Branding: How to Stand Out By Being First. Garret coined the term "authority blogging" to establish his own "niche" in which to compete.
In the words of Micheal Arrington of Tech Crunch fame…. find a parade and get in front of it! If you can’t find a parade, then create your own!