In traditional advertising there is a concept called “top of mind awareness”. The idea is to create an awareness of your brand based on the number of times a potential customer has seen it. Big brands have been using this marketing strategy for years.
The problem with “top of mind” advertising is that results are not so easily tracked. You can’t be sure if someone who is coming to see you today is responding to a billboard they saw last week, the radio ad they heard yesterday or the TV ad they saw three months ago. In reality, it is probably a combination of all three (and the fact that they were passing you on the freeway and remembered you, and since now is the time when they are ready to buy, now is the time they make the move toward you).
It happens all the time. But does it happen online? I think it does and I also think it will happen more often in the future.
For awhile, if you got traffic to your website it was because you did a great job of marketing with links or PPC ads. But I think the time is coming, and it’s largely due to the influence of social media, when people will just not be interested in what you have to offer, but when they are they will suddenly remember that they met you on Twitter and on Facebook and saw your display ad on their favorite website where you are advertising. It’s top of mind, online.
This type of advertising works because it touches people in their place of need at just the right time. But if you don’t advertise or promote yourself at all then it won’t work. You have to be active.