When we started this column, we titled it, “Confusion Says”. Of course, it was a play on the words Confucius Says, usually the beginning of some thoughtful point of philosophy, some short and simple phrase from long ago, loaded with insight. Our Confusion Says column speaks to the confusion that exists in the world of marketing. Confusion has always existed in that world, but today the number of choices and subsequent directions are anything but short and simple. They are more confusing than ever before. We wanted to review the options and present the facts as they exist today.
What remains consistent is that, of every option you choose, it can succeed or it can fail. It is all dependent upon the development of the strategy and the execution of the tactics. ME is now in control as never before. ME has the ultimate channel changer, their keyboard and their mobile device. They will Like you, Follow you and Link up with you, but only if you ask permission and only if you have something relevant to say, something relevant to them that is. If that relationship works, they will buy from you. If that relationship fails, well, remember, it’s not ME it’s you.
Every channel we explored should be used dependent upon time and money. If only we had it all. As we reviewed in earlier segments, most should be used in concert with other channels. Yesterday, I watched an advertisement for Google on TV. A few days ago, they emailed me an invitation to use their services and several weeks ago they direct mailed me a printed promotion for these same services. Yes, even Google, a 14 year old multi-billion dollar highly successful company that is most noted as a search engine for web sites, even Google uses TV, direct mail and email to market its services. It integrates multiple channels. Now, the TV commercial has come and gone. The email is somewhere on my hard drive. The Direct Mail piece, well, that’s sitting right in front of me now – a constant, unobtrusive reminder of it, the other advertisements and, of course, the company. This is cross-channel marketing. It is what you need to do as well.
As we move forward and new information is gathered, we will provide you with what the industry has to say about all of these channels.
The confusion will continue. We will find the facts to sort it out.
What’s new in the neighbourhood? That’s the question that posters and banners are designed to answer. They tend to focus on the immediate, the now. Signs tend to focus on the brand and the location. Either way, they are messages between you and the market. Okay, so these are things that most of us already know. So what? Well, there are a few facts we should keep in mind.
First, design is critical to your image, in fact, for many, it is their image, at least the first impression anyway. The University of Cincinnati and Better Homes and Gardens conducted a study on signage in October of 2011. What they found was that of 200 business school students, 79% said that the quality of the signage inferred the quality of the company. It’s a handshake, a first impression. You are what you project. So, if you advertise with a hand painted sign or a low resolution picture banner, you might sell a lot of used lawn furniture, but don’t expect to sell any diamond rings.
Next, if you are a new business, signage tells people that you have arrived. Use it. When we opened our first business, it was on a busy street corner. We set up a large well lit awning sign and we kept it lit all night. There was a bus stop across the street and the bus drivers called out the stop with our name as that destination. We were so prominent we became an immediate fixture. In our first year of operation, we set a record for the highest first year dollar volume location of some 400 North American locations in over 20 years. I’m not saying it was the sign, but it sure helped. It will help you too.
And just to restate the obvious, make the sign big and clear. That U of C study mentioned above also discovered that 50% of consumers drive by and miss small or unclear signs even when they are looking for that location. Not only that but, 64% of women aged 18 to 24 will miss the sign under the same conditions. There is just too much visual competition. For signs trying to attract drive by traffic, the layout is very important. Your logo should be in the top left along with a graphic and one or two key words. That’s all the time they have to read your message. Too much information and your message will be lost. It will become a blur. A blur just doesn’t sell stuff. Locating your message shouldn’t become an Easter Egg Hunt.
Did you know that after television, consumers considered indoor signage as tied with magazines as the most useful source of new product information? Well, neither did I until I read that U of C study. So what? Well, you can capitalize on this by placing product information signs in your business. Think of it as an informative customer service person spreading your message all day, every day. By the way, that same study showed that outdoor signs were the third most useful source of new product information. Are you in a mall or on a busy street with windows? If so, you know what to do.
And the, “But Wait There’s More” moment:
Remember QR Codes? We talked about them in June of this year. Where ever possible, every banner and poster should have a QR Code. It changes the static to the dynamic. It takes your customers and prospects to your other communications media. If successful, it engages them to interact with your brand in the worlds of email and web. It develops a relationship and that helps to grow your company.
Next: So many choices…So little time and money. Now what?