Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Don’t Just Harness TOMA, Create TOMA.

A combination of advertising and editorial in the same visual field presents an enormous benefit not only to the advertiser, but the consumer as well.

We’ve talked about Top of the Mind Awareness; you know what it is, and you’ve probably brought it up to your clients. Although you understand its importance, and more or less how it works, now is a good time to start thinking of implementation strategies that can help you get your clients to the top of their customer’s minds. Even though TOMA is simple in concept—be the first thing to pop in someone’s mind—the process of getting TOMA can be complicated. It’s not just about advertising, it’s about advertising in effective ways, so that though of in a specific context, not just noticed on the pages of the newspaper.

Developing a strategy for TOMA with your clients can be difficult, often because TOMA is already established in the consumer’s mind. Barraging consumers with never ending advertising isn’t the answer, however, being strategic about where and when they are confronted with advertising is. Consumers are presented with problems everyday, and often look anywhere for the solution. Give them a solution right next to their problem, and voila, you have changed the game.

Think about it this way; you are driving down the road and you get a flat tire. When you look up, there is a billboard for towing and tire repair. Even though you didn’t have TOMA for that business already, it being advertised exactly when and where you needed it came in handy. Unfortunately, serendipity like this doesn’t happen often, but there are ways that you can effectively use this serendipitous event to model new advertising strategies in your newspaper.  

You can match businesses and editorial stories that relate to each other. Yes, it may take some maneuvering to find the space to do it, and you would need some types of businesses on retainer to advertise during specific events. When achieved, however, a combination of advertising and editorial in the same visual field presents an enormous benefit not only to the advertiser, but the consumer as well.

For example, springtime weather in most areas causes flooding. Your paper will most likely be writing stories on the flood, either as community interest or to report the amount of damage that has been done to municipal facilities. If you sell the space near the article, to a carpet cleaner/dryer or a floor installation specialist, you are giving those companies incredible visibility at the exact moment when their customers are saying, “my basement is ruined, and I don’t know who to call.”

Now this presents a benefit in multiple ways. Yes, you have just given a reader an easy solution, and an advertiser an enormous benefit, but you have also converted that reader to a buyer. No, they didn’t get the information from an Internet search, and no they didn’t already have TOMA for that business. You created TOMA because the solution was immediate to the problem. Instead of forcing the reader to search through the newspaper for advertisements or products to fix the problem, the answer was given to the reader on a little silver platter.

To adapt this technique for online users, allot one of the side bar advertisements, or the “pay-per-click” space for this purpose. You can also use a banner. The advertisement will still come up when a related story is selected, allowing the reader to find just what they are looking for right next to what they are interested in. Many online sites already do this to an extent, with cookies, except they focus advertising based on what sites you’ve visited before.

However you use this strategy to reach consumers, either in print or online format, consumers will routinely notice that the solutions to problems described in the paper are right in front of their eyes. That juxtaposition will not only make consumers lives easier, but also increase traffic for your advertisers.