Here's a quirky fact: In an era when ad revenues for broadcast networks are shrinking, revenues for outdoor advertising (billboards, mainly) are expanding. Frankly, I've never been very enthusiastic about billboards, but technology has changed all that. Billboards can now be very effective in gaining a prospect's attention and then redirecting him to a greater source of information.
The name of the game in advertising is more reach for your dollars. Traditionally, we've tried to hit our audience with blanket advertising in the form of newspapers, radio, and TV, which are not highly targeted media.
Your target audience is still out there, but fewer of them are watching or hearing commercials of any kind. Between you and your prospect are powerful forces such as XM Radio and Sirius, cable, Tivo, and DVR.
Consequently, television is increasingly used as a “redirecting” medium. Lots of companies are using 15-second spots to get your attention and send you to a Web site.
With lower production costs for a 15-second spot, advertisers can produce more spots with more variety and have them aired more frequently for the same cost, thus maximizing their reach.
Technology is also resurrecting ad forms from the past, such as billboards, and energizing them as “redirective” media.
Don't limit your thinking to stationary signs, however. Consider mobile billboards, such as those on taxis, buses, trains, and even supermarket carts.
Obviously, all these redirecting sources are only as effective as the interest generated by your message, followed by the quality of your Web site. Once a prospect hits your site, you're in control of the information available. You can have audio, video, contact forms, surveys, or any other form of information or feedback you like.
When that prospect becomes a customer, however, be sure you remember that it wasn't the Internet that generated the lead. It was a sign. And that's a sign of the times.
—Chuck Anton is a sales and marketing consultant who specializes in the home improvement industry. You can reach him at www.chuckanton.com.