Building brand awareness, perception, and image

Foundation Partners why I partnered

So many times when I’m writing a an article I find something in that article that jogs my mind about another aspect of funeral service, or business, or life in general.  In yesterday’s article I mentioned “Top of Mind Awareness” as something that your business or your brand wants your potential customers to have.

I used to think of “Top of Mind Awareness” or TOMA for our funeral home as something that was absolutely vital to grow our business.  So, you may ask, “What is Top of Mind Awareness and what does that have to do with the success of my business?”

Funeral homes advertise our businesses in all sorts of places.  Historically, we advertise in the newspaper, on the internet, in the yellow pages, on church calendars, on the radio, even on television in relevant markets.  Those advertisements should bring some idea of image to your potential clientele, but if they only bring image, you are missing out on TOMA.

TOMA to me means having a potential customer know about your business and have it at the top of his/her mind when asked.  For instance, if I asked you to name a fast food restaurant would you mention McDonald’s or Burger King, a soda. . would you mention Coke or Pepsi, a discount shopping store. . would you mention Wal-Mart or Target?  What ever you mention is your “Top of Mind Awareness” decision.

TOMA is also defined as “the most remembered” or “most recalled” brand in a consumer’s mind.

In my opinion being the “most remembered” is very important in the funeral home realm.  Think about the husband who is rushed to the hospital with a heart attack or some other deadly acute symptom.  The wife follows in her car and is placed in a waiting room at the hospital while emergency staff tend to the husband.

Eventually, a physician calmly walks into the waiting room and announces to the wife, “We did all we could, however we could not save your husband.”  Then a nurse comes in and asks if she has a funeral home they would like the hospital to call.

At that point, while we now have mobile devices where we can look for help, families are used to giving that nurse the answer that first comes to them. . . .their “top of mind awareness” answer for funeral homes.

Keep that on your mind when deciding what your advertising and promotional purchases will be for the next year.  Yes, you need to have image oriented, relationship oriented, and reason oriented marketing efforts, but don’t forget about keeping your business name at the top of mind of consumers through regular, repeated ads promoting your name and brand.

For me, this was driven home in the early days of my career when I used to periodically take out large ads in our community’s newspaper announcing holidays and our funeral homes commitment to serving 24/7/365.  A newspaper ad sales rep convinced me to use smaller ads at more regular intervals to build up brand awareness in the consumer mind.  I bought the thought hook, line, and sinker, and was proved correct in doing so for the next 30 years.

Instead of big full page ads once in a while, we went to small ads in the newspaper almost every publication that used our logo and built our brand.  We also went to daily drive time ads on the radio and bought a very visible billboard spot on a busy street that we have contracted for ever since.  And, when our local paper went online, we added that to our repertoire.

Big, successful franchises know the advantage of TOMA ads.  In most restaurant franchise agreements there is an agreement for the franchisee to pay the franchisor a certain percentage of sales revenue for the franchisor’s operations.  And while local franchisee’s ( the local store) can make decisions on their local advertising budgets, there is usually also a percentage of revenue fee for a national advertising account due to the franchisor to build up that brand or top of mind awareness for the benefit of all franchisees.

My point in today’s article for funeral homes is this. . . . you will just do better if when people in your community are asked to name a funeral home, your name is the one that comes up. . . . .and a little planning and executing on that plan can drive your TOMA response much higher than your competitors.

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