Billboards as PR
I was lucky enough in one of my first full-time marketing roles to be able to give my opinion on budget spend. When I first started in this particular role I found that the entire year’s budget had already been allocated, into newspaper adverts.
While newspaper adverts can and do work for some, in this case, they weren’t working. Or at least, we couldn’t prove they were. The first step was to introduce a tracked phone number so that I could monitor the calls from people reading the newspaper, without having to rely on them remembering to mention where they had heard of us.
With this data to back me up I was able to succesfully pitch the idea that we should withdraw from placing anymore adverts in the local newspaper. I was then given permission to scout out new ways to promote awareness locally. I looked into bus shelter adverts, posters at the local shopping centre, and PPC. Then a local competitor had some really bad press and I knew I wanted to make the most of that.
Getting approval to place a billboard on the road that led to our competitor was tough, as there were concerns about the ethics of capitalising on someone’s misfortune for business, however my pitch was to promote how clean, safe, and qualified we were – not to badmouth the competition.
Once the billboard was up we had a few calls as a result – they didn’t use our tracked phone number, but I didn’t really expect them to. After all its not realistic to expect someone driving along to stop and write down a phone number that they could simply google later, but still customers mentioned seeing it. Then our head office brought an international investor to visit us and we suggested they detour via the billboard. Success!
Awareness was great, and we were recognised by the head office team for helping to secure international investment.
The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t keep doing something (in this case, newspaper adverts), just because you’ve always done it. Equally don’t be afraid to do something new (in this case, billboards), just because you’ve never done it before.