What’s the Deal With Billboards?

I just got back from a fantastic — however, too short — trip to the Adirondacks. I unplugged, did some hiking, and regularly wondered during my drive up north why certain marketers still feel the need to invest in billboards.

You know they’re going to have a decent snack aisle there. | Credit: Wikimedia Commons by Colin

I just got back from a fantastic — however, too short — trip to the Adirondacks. I unplugged, showed my boyfriend one of my favorite places on earth, did some hiking, played in a ridiculous 3-inning wiffle ball tournament with my cousins and regularly wondered during my drive up north why certain marketers still feel the need to invest in billboards.

Now, don’t get me wrong … the billboards that alert you to an upcoming deluxe truck stop in 10 miles, or a brewery and restaurant two exits away are 100 percent okay by me. They provide travelers with quick information that is actionable 98 percent of the time. Good deal.

However, the billboard for a digital agency that I saw on 95 North? That is a billboard I question.

Now, I didn’t get a shot of the billboard because I was driving, and mentioning WHO it is also doesn’t really matter for this post. Why? Because I don’t know much about this company (though I just did a little googling), and I think I want to keep looking at this from a blind perspective. So let’s get back to that.

The billboard hails the company as an expert in SEO, PPC, social, Web design … all things that are digital, pasted onto essentially a huge sign by the interstate. And sure, we see display ads everywhere: bus stop shelters, inside train cars, on subway walls. But in most of those settings, the prospect is sitting or standing still, can take in the information, and if there is a call to action, can take it.

Because they’re not driving a vehicle 72 mph down the highway.

I’m not sure how many people are going to be able to take action on a billboard like that. Perhaps if they drive that way to work every day, the name will stick in their heads and they’ll remember to look the company up once they get in the office … maybe. Depends on how gnarly that inbox is.

But I certainly hope I don’t see someone looking this company up on their phone as they floor it to get to work on time.

So I ask: Why? What’s the point for this kind of advertising? On one hand you might tell me that this company sticks out among the Utz pretzel and various beer billboards (all brand exposure focused), and on the other hand I’ll say that I don’t know if I can trust a company who sinks cash into billboards. And don’t get me started on the billboards I’ve seen with QR Codes (thankfully, fewer and fewer nowadays).

That said, the digital billboards that Netflix had for the Santa Clarita Diet were pretty great.

So marketers tell me: Yay or nay to billboard advertising.

Who Holds the Keys to Your Marketing Kingdom?

Stop for just a minute and run a quick mental audit on the various stakeholders who keep your website alive and healthy. Can you name the company that hosts your website? Where is your domain registered? Do you have links to all of these sites and a list of all the log-in credentials for each of these pieces of the puzzle? I recently met a small business owner who had entrusted the design, build and maintenance of their company’s website to a small 2-man digital agency — and shared a horror story with me.

digital marketingWith our heavy dependence on websites for brand building, lead generation, new product launches and e-commerce, you’d think there would be a set of best practices for maintaining the keys to that kingdom.

If you’re reading this post, then stop for just a minute and run a quick mental audit on the various stakeholders who keep your website alive and healthy. Can you name the company that hosts your website? Where is your domain registered? Who is doing the website maintenance? Who handles your e-commerce payment gateway? Do you have links to all of these sites and a list of all the log-in credentials for each of these pieces of the puzzle?

I recently met a small business owner who had entrusted the design, build and maintenance of the company’s website to a small two-man digital agency — and shared a horror story with me.

It seems she left all the “details” up to the agency. She didn’t know how the website was built — whether it was template or custom code; she had no idea how or where or even who had registered the domain. She didn’t know the details of how the website was maintained — she knew who to call when she had a problem, but trusted that those she paid would take care of her needs. And then one day, that little agency, was gone.

No one answered the phone. No one returned her calls. No one answered her emails for help. She literally had no idea where to turn, and yet she needed her digital storefront maintained or she’d be out of business.

As she told me her story, I realized the same could be true for many other businesses. And, after asking around, it seems her story is not uncommon. When it comes to a website, many business owners entrust an employee, yet don’t ask for a list of service providers, links and log-in credentials so they can maintain a record as back-up. What would they do if one day that employee failed to show up for work?

With all of the digital security risks, it’s a good idea to change passwords regularly. Do you have a system to ensure you get the new password each time it gets reset by your internal or external team?

Don’t get held hostage by an outside partner or internal employee. Don’t risk your brand’s storefront. Stop reading this blog and get the keys to your marketing kingdom before this day is over. You can thank me later.