Evoked Brand Set: The easy way of surrogate branding through better search ranking

In the pre-Internet days every marketer and advertiser -had one goal:

to get into the evoked set of the consumer or B2B buying center member

It was that you had to have a big budget to be in the evoked set. No longer so with better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay per click).  But first the evoked set concept.

The “evoked set” is the set of brands you think of when you have a buying need. If you are in the market for a car it’s very likely that you have 3-4 car brands (Ford,GM,Toyota etc.) in mind as you start checking them out. In the old days, well let’s say till 1990’s, only big brands could afford to spend those millions on TV and traditional media advertising to build up a particular brand. So if you were Ford Motor Company , your goal was to get into the evoked set and have the customer visit the dealer showroom. To achieve this goal all kinds of advertising including sports sponsorships, community events, newspaper and magazine advertising, radio and billboards was supposed to help. In fact, car dealers have their own radio jingles and billboards that advertised their brand. So the logic of buyer behavior was:

Are you in the market for a car?—>Consider Ford—> Consider particular Ford Dealer…..once you arrive at the dealers’ and see the offerings maybe you want to go from buying a sedan to the more rugged Ford 150 truck!

The Internet has completely changed the notion of the evoked set. The evoked set involves memory that we might be losing to search engines like Google according to research. Instead of entirely relying on memory and the evoked set,the consumer or  a B2B buying center member is likely to do an Internet search using Google, Yahoo or Bing. Here is how the search results become the surrogate brand in the US:

  • Searching is easy at home and work: A student or employee has easy access to computers and  the Internet both at work and home. If you have a question (buy a car) the Internet has answers.
  • Searching is easy on mobile smart phones: There are an estimated 138.5 million smart phones in the US according to Comscore in April 2013. These smart phone users visit malls and do showrooming as they compare prices online,  as discussed in an earlier post about Best Buy.

Every time someone searches for something, like “buy a car” in the pictured screenshot, something comes up in organic search results and ads- as shown.And the searcher checks out the results in a receptive sort of mood. So if you had searched “buy a car” your evoked set  would now perhaps include Hyundai,Dodge, Nissan and also cars.com and autotrader.com apart from financing options from Chase bank. This way , as a consumer, you are now considering brands and providers – you had not thought about. Since you did the searching, you’d be quite likely to check out autotrader and cars.com, at least online,because they are at the top of SEO and also feature in the PPC ads.  Moreover, once you search online your mood is comparatively  more receptive, than when you see a TV ad from the same brand, that interrupts your favorite show.

You’ll notice that big brands keep up an active presence in internet advertising at least through paid search ads.The great thing is  that even smaller brands can become part of the evoked brand set by consistently running search ads in their target markets. Running pay per click ads is also affordable because you do not pay for showing the ads (like TV, direct mail or radio)but only pay for clicks.Being shown and clicked through allows your brand to get into the evoked brand set as the search results feature your brand. About StratoServe.

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