A Slice of TOMA Pie

78364794Quick, name first brand that comes to mind when we say “diner.”

Now, name the first brand that you think of when we say “diner with pie.”

This is an example of Top of Mind Awareness branding, or TOMA. If a company does this correctly, they will be the first name that pops into your head when you recall a specific type of product.

There are many different kinds of TOMA. Positive or universal TOMA means that you’ve set yourself apart as the one and only good resource for a product. A good example of this is Starbucks; favorite local cafes aside, what do you do when you want a fast, semi-decent cup of java to go, no matter where you are? You look for that smiling mermaid, or a telltale green building on the street corner. There are plenty of other coffee chains out there, but we dare you to name two off the top of your head, and no cheating with Google. (There’s another example of universal TOMA; Google is the search engine  that everyone thinks of.)

There’s also negative TOMA. If your product is downright terrible, or if customers form a negative association with you, you’ll be at the top of their list – of places to avoid. You want to avoid this kind of TOMA at all costs.

But what do you do if you can’t win universal TOMA? If there’s too much competition, you’ll have a hard time become the one and only name in your business. If that’s the case, your best bet is to corner the niche TOMA market.

Did somebody say pie?

monthlyToday’s example of good niche TOMA is Village Inn. If you saw that coming, that’s because they’ve been doing a good job – the words “diner” and “pie” should have clued you in at the start of the article.

Village Inn’s brand is entirely based around pie. Head on over to their website right now, and take a look; you’ll likely see a featured pie on the front page. Their logo is subtly shaped like a pastry fresh out of the oven; the tiny “vi” even looks like a fork next to a slice of pie.

Village Inn also features Pie Rush Wednesday every week. With any in-store purchase, whether it be an entree or a drink, you can get a free slice of one of their classic fruit pies (and some of the featured selections as well). When people go to a diner for dessert, where do you think they’ll be headed?

Obviously, Village Inn can’t completely corner the diner market. There are too many major chain diners out there, including Denny’s and Perkins. But by providing a very specific service, and marketing it effectively, they have put themselves right at the top of their customer’s “dessert” list.

How do you get your slice of the TOMA pie?

If you want to increase your TOMA, you need to find your niche. Once you know what sets you apart from the competition, make sure that your audience knows it, too. A good place to start is by staying in your clients’ field of vision, even after you’ve finished providing your service. Here are just a few ways you can accomplish that:

  • Stay active on social media
  • Blog about your industry
  • Send out a regular newsletter
  • Run ads in your local paper
  • Have special deals based around your niche

Do you have any special TOMA secrets to share? Do you know a company whose TOMA strategy succeeded (or flopped horribly)? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to go grab your slice of free pie.

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