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Why Does Being Top of Mind Matter?

Updated: Mar 19


Being Top of Mind matters because we know it works.  It’s human nature, and when dealing with humans, you’ve got to accept their nature… even the ugly bits.  I recently read an article suggesting that radio advertising is more effective than other forms of marketing.  I thought that sounded strange, since I largely think of radio as a dinosaur of technology.  I know that’s unfair, so don’t hate me for that.  I just know that, in my life, radio has gone from being an intricate part of how I got information to a forgotten, though nostalgic, mode of communication.  I don’t listen to the radio any more… except in my car.  The article suggested that we all tend to still listen to the radio in our cars, and we spend a lot of time driving.  Advertisements that are heard on the radio, can trace results to within 30 minutes of airing.  The assumption here is that people hear an ad on the radio, they’re already dressed and in their cars, and they make a spur of the moment decision to stop on their way to buy something presented in the ad.  I’ve not tried to drill down into that research, but the idea is intriguing.  We know they move candy near the cash registers to tempt us while we’re waiting in line.  But the idea of catching me in route to someplace else is magical. 

People are very busy, and we tend to forget things rather quickly.  Again, it has to do with the way our brains work. Hermann Ebbinghaus developed some research around memory, and in the 1880s developed a hypothesis called the forgetting curve to track how quickly people forget what they’ve learned.  Now a lot of development has gone on since that time, as we’ve learned a lot more in the past 140 years, but the fact remains that people forget a huge proportion of what they hear, read, or learn, in a remarkably short period of time.  We’ve all experienced that in our own lives.  Study like mad for that exam in college, ace the test the next day, and how much is available to our recall today? 

So the facts, dates, prices of your advertising campaign will be largely forgotten by the end of the day, but with repetition, and when people start to develop a relationship with you and/or your product, that begins to create more permanent pathways in the brain.  So the trick is to find ways to remind people of you, and do it regularly enough to be remembered.  We also have to mix it up a bit. People start to tune out what becomes annoying.  We’ve all got those horrible jingles and repetitive commercials in our minds that actually turn us away from a product.  But the jingles and commercials are still in our minds.  So we know it works, but what does that mean for the creative entrepreneur?

We as creatives have to be a bit sneakier than those selling candy bars.  We all know that “Snickers satisfy’s ya”, and we’ve all asked “what would we do for a Klondike bar?”  But try to name one ad for a work of art, a piece of music, or a great logo graphic.  We’re never going to be household words like the scrubbing toilet bubbles are.  But we’ve established that we have a group of people who want to hear from us, some who are previous customers, and still others that we’re reaching out to possibly for the first time.  Our mailing lists are the core of or marketing efforts, though we can certainly cast our net to a wider unknown audience on occasion.  Our concentrated effort must go to those whom we already know.  We build relationships with them, and communicate with them in a variety of ways, but on a regular schedule.  Then we funnel good, quality content to them, without becoming too solicitous, or creepy, and continue to remind them of who we are, what we do, and how they can be a part of that.  We give them chances to buy from us, but also to hang out with us, to ask us questions, to become part of their everyday lives.  That’s why being Top of Mind is so powerful.  McDonalds doesn’t really want to get to know me, or want me to hang out with them at a reception or an opening.  We’re selling a relationship. So find ways to change your marketing campaigns from being centered around you and your art, and create campaigns that center around your customers, and their needs.  Realize that their needs may not be to buy your paintings, but rather to be part of an artsy community, or to have some place safe to hang out on a Saturday morning, or a reason to get dressed up on a Friday evening.  The art sales will come, but they don’t have to be central to the marketing.  Create experiences for your patrons, fulfill whatever need they have by coming to your studio, and then put the art by the cash registers.  I think it’s vary rare for someone to show up at an art reception with the intention of buying a piece of art from John Bishop.  That’s not why they’re coming.  Of course, when they get here, have a good experience, and see something they like, they’re primed for a sale.  And that is when the magic happens.


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