Billboards are one particular form of traditional media I have always found interesting. They, like any other marketing tool, must be used correctly for the advertiser to receive the benefit they hope for. I think it’s good to look at the right ways to use traditional media as we consider the social media. Below are three things we can learn from effective billboard marketing:
1. Good billboards meet people’s needs. Believe it or not, a well-placed billboard can be the best bang for the marketing buck. For instance, unless I have an iPhone or some other web-enabled device when I’m traveling, I find billboards very helpful in informing me which exit to take to find food and restrooms. When I’m on the road, I have a few very specific needs so billboards aren’t see so much advertising as much as they are information about my options just down the road. They’re meeting a need I have at the time, and for that reason, they work in those scenarios. In social media, you need to earn attention by giving people something they’ll find valuable. Whether it’s the EIEO approach to creating good content or valuable committing to engage in meaningful conversations, the bottom line is it’s not about you.
2. Good billboards lead you to find out more information. The really good billboard designers know they only have a few seconds of your time as you go speeding down the road. They need to make an impression and give you somewhere to go for more information if there’s a call to action. We need to do that in social media as well. Whether you post a video to YouTube or Tweet a little known fact, provide people with a way to get more information in everything you do. Build out your Twitter profile, add links to the end of videos, or use a URL shortener if you have to. Just don’t miss opportunities to allow people to find out more information about your company, products, or services.
3. Good billboards communicate clearly. Great billboards are simple and clear. Conversely, bad billboards have mixed messages or no message at all. For instance, there’s a realty company here in Nashville that has billboards all over the city that say, “Our company is really growing.” That’s it. That’s all they say. What am I supposed to do with that? There’s no contact info, no call to action, no explanation for their claims to growth and certainly nothing to tell me why I should even care. It’s very unclear.
In social media, we can be busy doing a lot of Tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging, but if we take a step back, are we really clear? Do we really know who we’re talking to and what we hope to communicate? Are our conversations a series of one-off exchanges that aren’t going anywhere? Are our blog posts building a foundation of expertise and value or are they just a jumbled concoction of ideas or promotions? We need to be clear in our own minds about what we’re trying to accomplish and then communicate out of that clarity. The POST method is a great place to start getting that clarity.