Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Advertising Media – Part 6: Outdoor

with 2 comments

Your name should be in lights.

Of course, by that I mean, your business name should be spread across yard after yard of billboard space where hundreds of people traveling about 65 miles per hour can glance at it for a total of about 2 seconds…if they bother to look up at all.

Then there’s the bus. Ever thought about putting your logo on that smelly crosstown bus that drives the same route everyday driving by the same people day after day? Or what about on the bus stand itself.

How about the side of a blimp? Or a panel truck? Or a cab top?

There are so many ways to buy outdoor, many of which you might not even heard of, that you could go crazy trying to examine them all. You can rent a cycling team to drive through downtown areas carrying a flag with your logo. You can rent street crews to give out flyers. How about buying the top of pizza boxes from a popular pizza restaurant?

Really, the question is who are you trying to reach? Which do you think is more effective, flying your banner behind a biplane over the 50,000 in attendance at game 4 of the World Series or the millions watching on TV? Are you trying to reach the one person walking down the street coincidentally at the same time a truck or van with your logo goes by, or the thousands that are reading the newspaper at the same time?

Hitting scores of people at once is always inferior to hitting thousands at once. After all, the whole idea of mass media messaging is to reach your potential new customers in a memorable way. Like sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people you hit, the better the chance those people are looking for your goods or services.

It’s been my experience that outdoor advertising is the definition of clutter. Like a bad TV ad, it’s just part of our daily environment and our brains have been trained and conditioned to tune it out. I’ve never really considered outdoor as a viable cornerstone to a marketing campaign nor have I recommended it to my clients. However, there are a substantial number of companies that specialize in outdoor advertising. They must be successful for a reason. I’d like to hear from you if you’ve had any experience in outdoor advertising. What’s worked for you? How have you cut through the clutter and done something that’s memorable? Was it part of a bigger campaign or was it your campaign? What would you recommend to others that are considering the same avenue?

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Written by Jeff York

May 25, 2008 at 1:08 am

2 Responses

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  1. It appears from your writing that you have very little knowledge of Outdoor advertising.

    You might want to ask the largest advertisers in the world why they choose to use it.

    Your notions are way off.

    First off… the fastest growing media are Internet and Outdoor… and it has been that way for seveal years as fragmentation and consumer empowerment have hit all time highs.

    Brands are not made online. Brands are made offline. What are the odds of someone clicking through to Jeff’s Tires vs. Goodyear?

    The definition of clutter? That would be TV and Radio where ads are backed and stacked in pods that now take up almost as much time as the programming that is built to build audiences solely to watch them… and people are not watching. They can turn off, tune out or watch the programming only at their convenience.

    Chik-fil-a is a perfect example of a company that has grown from nothing into a powerhouse without the use of so called “traditional” media. Ask them. They didn’t have the money to compete in the clutter fest with Mickey D’s etc. and built their entire business with Outdoor.

    Applebee’s has an apple on top of their restaurants.

    What do you think Chik-fil-a would have on top of their restaurants? Think fast.

    The fact that you have not recommended it to your clients is because you do not have a solid understanding of how powerful an outdoor campaign can be… and you are actually doing them a disservice.

    Any campaign can be enhanced not only in terms of lower costs per thousand, but also in terms of memorability. When was the last time you said “WOW!” when opening a newspaper, magazine or watching television or listening to radio? Probably never.

    Great Outdoor has the abilitiy to get the WOW everday all day.

    Seamus Fitzpatrick

    Seamus Fitzpatrick

    May 26, 2008 at 2:17 pm

  2. Seamus,

    As someone with a great deal of experience with outdoor and limited success, I can appreciate where you are coming from, however I respectfully disagree. In much the same way that radio and TV add to and generate their own clutter, outdoor continues to be just that: a part of the scenery. I believe that we train our minds to ignore much of the clutter such as passing over ads in newspapers and magazines without even reading them, I can tell you that I drive by billboards daily and I can’t tell you a single advertiser on any of them. Fortunately, I have moved back to a state that allows billboards so I can better appreciate the medium. I spent 8 years living in one of the 4 states (Alaska, Maine, Vermont, Hawaii) that finds billboards so abhorrent as to ban them. In my opinion, that’s over the top.

    I understand that the largest advertisers in the world use outdoor. That would be because they have already saturated more effective means of generating their brands. Even Chick-fil-A understands the need to be on TV as they have ported their famous cows to the small tube.

    Television, and well done commercial creative for that medium, has more WOW factor and impact for their clients than any other medium I know. The watercooler factor generated by Superbowl ads, even by those people that don’t care about the game and watch only for the ads, is substantial. How many people do you know that drive down the road just to look at the outdoor advertising? There are even entire shows dedicated to the best in TV advertising from around the world.

    When have I been WOWed by outdoor? It’s been a long long time.

    Thanks for posting and reading!

    Jeff York

    May 26, 2008 at 3:11 pm


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