“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.” -William Bernbach

“Before you can have a share of market, you must have a share of mind.” – Leo Burnett

Share of Voice: How much of the advertising done within your industry and in your market is yours?

Share of Mind: When people think of your product or service, which brands or companies spring to mind? Are any of them yours? Are you the first company they think of or the last? And how do they feel about you when your brand does come to mind?

But forget the definitions of these terms. Here’s how ad legend Dave Trott taught me to understand the powerful difference between Share of Voice and Share of Mind:

Let’s say that 19 ads for competitors are already gaining “exposure” to your prospect. And now your ad is going to enter the mix. That looks something like this:



Now, here’s the important part:


Because if all those other ads are represented by bland, white circles to signify their bland, boring messaging and production, and if you broadcast yet one more smooth, “professional sounding,” blandishment of an ad, then you’ll end up with a 5% Share of Voice.


But what if you don’t do that?

What if you broadcast a flaming red, unignorable ad that hits people between the eyes?

Well, then it would look like this:



Now, technically, at least, you’ll still only have a 5% share of voice.

But will that be how the audience sees, hears, and remembers it?

Will they remember your ad as one of twenty, or will they remember it as the only ad that won their attention and sparked their imagination?

Will they group all the other ads together as so much blah, blah, blah, and single out your ad as the exception to the blah, blah?

Well, general life experience and gestalt grouping principles indicate that, yeah, they will.

For instance, do you see the following picture as 36 dots?


Or did your mind automatically group the similarly colored dots together to form six lines of dots, with three lines of white dots alternating with three lines of black ones?

Once you understand that bit of magic, it’s easy to see that — with the use of a red-hot ad — your Share of Mind chart would really looks like this:



Because while you’re still only 1 of 20 ads, yielding a 5% Share of Voice, that’s not how the audience hears and remembers it.

In the mind of the audience, your ad is now 1 out of 2 groupings:

  • Group 1 is your ad that stands out, and
  • Group 2 consists of all the other ads that blend together.

That equates to a 50% share of mind.

That’s a 10X increase in effectiveness — from 5 to 50 percent!

Simply by moving from a mediocre to a great ad.

Of course, this example is simplified quite a bit. It doesn’t account for past advertising and reputation and already established Top of Mind Awareness, and so on.

Nor does it account for whether your red-hot messaging has much relevance.

Nor whether both your ad and your brand are recalled, or just the ad. Nor whether the recall and associations are positive. And so on.

This advertising business is a bit trickier than most people think!

But the insight remains the same, doesn’t it?

Because, really, that 10X increase IS the most important thing you need to know about Share of Voice and Share of Mind.



  1. Phil Wrzesinski on 08.10.2015

    Brilliantly simple and understandable! Thank you, thank you.

  2. Jeff on 08.10.2015

    Thanks, Phil!

  3. mahanay on 08.10.2015

    Share of Voice Vs. Share of Mind http://t.co/crvIbL9iTR – via @JeffSexton

  4. Chuck McKay on 08.11.2015

    Jeff, I like the explanation. Vivid and simple. Nicely done.
    Chuck McKay´s last blog post ..Allstate Gets It

  5. Jeff on 08.11.2015

    Thanks, Chuck

  6. sarahklenke on 08.12.2015

    Share of Voice vs Share of Mind… The #marketing question every #business needs the answer to! http://t.co/qm7zrm83Pi by @JeffSexton

  7. persuasionfox on 08.14.2015

    Share of Voice Vs. Share of Mind by @jeffsexton http://t.co/OWEjzBSiW9

  8. ScLoHo on 08.15.2015

    Share of Voice Vs. Share of Mind | Jeff Sexton Writes http://t.co/H96Lh57l1l

  9. ScLoHo on 08.15.2015

    Share of Voice Vs. Share of Mind http://t.co/b298RuifXH

  10. Reba on 11.29.2015

    It’s a constant battle for attention out there … just don’t go and annoy people, that’s my advice!
    Reba´s last blog post ..Frugal furnishing – easy tips to save money on interior design

  11. WizardofAds on 03.28.2016

    #Business #Marketing Share of Voice vs. Share of Mind by #WizardofAds Partner @JeffSexton… https://t.co/siqnOyuRdv https://t.co/tOIf6beHxy

  12. Jon on 07.15.2016

    Very useful, thanks for sharing!