Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

New Year’s Day always feels like a challenge to me.

I’m not big on New Year celebrations, but I’m always up for a challenge. A brand new, fresh and shiny year causes my imagination to soar. I’ve traveled the whole “Resolution” path in the past, but that’s not what grabs me. Most resolutions seem to focus on changing a behavior or attitude. I savor the opportunity to begin totally anew.

Okay, so part of this is a resolution. However, the “starting with a blank slate” resolution that I prefer approaches behavior in a totally fresh way. Businesses can do this too. A great place to start is to seriously consider your top-of-mind awareness.

In marketing, top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) refers to a brand or specific product being first in customers’ minds when thinking of a particular industry or category.

Ideally, when a problem arises that your business can solve, you want your brand to be the first one considered. You want to be the leader in your field, a go-to expert. You want to be Top of Mind.

What brands that come to your mind first when thinking about cars, clothes, banks, insurance, or any items or services someone may purchase? You most likely think of those brands first because they’ve earned your loyalty, because you prefer them, and they have your attention because they are actively engaging with you.

Make 2018 the year that your business actively works to achieve TOMA. Where to start? Six basic tips will get you started.

Make and emotional connection. People want to feel good about their experiences. Working to better understand your target audiences will help to achieve the connection that may make the difference.

Remain present. Make sure that all messaging remains consistent across all platforms, but even more importantly, keep your messaging in front of the right target audiences over time.

Be available. Engagement with your customers or clients is important. Make sure that you’re available in the manner most suitable to those you work with – not the other way around.

Offer value. Value includes many things, but the most important value you can offer is really understanding the wants, needs and desires of your customers and clients. Understanding leads to presenting value that will be truly appreciated.

Be unique. Don’t try to sell your business by doing what others are doing. Create a strategy that is yours. Promoting your specific offerings in a unique manner will help your business stand out from the others.

Stir things up. The more you understand what makes your target audiences talk, the more effective your efforts will be. Spending time learning about what drives conversation will enhance all efforts. Social media is excellent for this activity, but make sure that the platforms you utilize connect with your audiences.

Choosing the right media to include in your strategies includes understanding the benefits and limitations when building TOMA. Recent research indicates that digital media is great for reaching specific consumers with targeted messages, efficiently and at a lower cost. However, the same research indicates that digital media is far less effective than traditional media when looking at consumer recall, that is, what is Top of Mind.

Savvy marketers know that reaching appropriate target audiences requires utilizing many different means to build and enhance TOMA. Consistent messaging, combined with a clear understanding of your customers, will help to ensure that your business is top of mind. Strategic planning and intentional engagement boosts your bottom line. TOMA ensures that others promote your brand when prompted.

The New Year challenges many of us to start fresh – are you up to the challenge?

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
She may be reached at 303-651-6612; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or Linked In.

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