By Peter Hercky and Michael Pasqua
What’s your marketing strategy? Where is it (and your business) going? If you’re caught off guard by that question, you’re not alone. Most marketers can tell you about the tactics they’re using but can’t identify the strategy from which those tactics emanate. Fortunately, there’s a finite set of options from which to select your strategy. Unfortunately, once you’ve chosen that strategy, you may discover that your tactics need revamping.
Let’s start by defining what a marketing strategy is: it is the path one takes to achieve a business presence, sales goal or objective. If you’re in Roselle Park, NJ and your destination (goal) is Philadelphia, Penn., your choices are walking, driving, swimming, sailing or flying. Those are your travel options (strategies). If you choose driving, your tactical choices are the Betsy Ross Bridge, the Ben Franklin Bridge, the Palmyra Bridge or the Walt Whitman Bridge. Deciding which tactic to implement depends on where in Philadelphia you need to be.
Your marketing strategy is similarly formulated by choosing from the following finite set of options:
- increase share of market, or
- increase size of market, or
- increase product usage within existing market.
Most marketers opt to increase their share of market by taking away from competition. Market leaders, on the other hand, might do well by trying to increase the size of the market itself. They know they’ll get their dominant share and are not concerned that smaller competitors will also benefit from these efforts. Increasing product usage within an existing market entails changing consumer behavior. Examples abound: brushing teeth three times daily, when twice used to suffice. Changing oil every 3,000 miles instead of every 5,000 miles, as the car makers now recommend. Promoting new applications for existing products; eg., Arm & Hammer baking soda as a deodorizer in the freezer.
Once you’ve selected your strategy you need to decide on your marketing tactics. Start by looking to the four “Ps” in the marketing mix. They are product, pipeline (distribution), price and promotion. Analyze each one and decide what course of action within each element will best contribute to the implementation of your strategy.
Finally, let’s look at marketing communications strategic options, which are also limited. Your choices are reach, frequency, continuity and impact. Choosing the right strategy is every bit as important as choosing the right tactic. After all, it doesn’t make sense to go to Philadelphia via the George Washington Bridge, regardless of how many credits are in your EZPass account. Once you’ve set your direction—it may lead you outside.
Whereas classic advertising is exposed in the home or office, advertising which is outside those areas had been considered outdoor. Today it’s properly called out-of-home.
There are several reasons for the semantic change. It used to be that billboards were synonymous with outdoor advertising. Today, however, there are so many ways to promote a product, business or service outside of the home that the advertising industry needed to broaden the term.
Let’s start by looking at the choices available in out-of-home advertising vehicles and begin with those traditional billboards. There are several billboard options including highway, in-town and suburban. Then there’s transit which includes the inside and outside of buses and the bus shelters themselves, outside of taxi cabs, inside and outside of trains and rail stations, trolleys, ferries, subways and their platforms and a multitude of kiosks at airports, in urban parks and at suburban roadway rest areas.
You’ll often encounter another type of out-of-home medium as you lie on the beach or attend a stadium sporting event. A single-engine airplane (or a giant blimp) flies by with an advertising banner in tow. This sub-class of out-of-home is called aerial for obvious reasons.
Some out-of-home advertising is venue based. For example when you’re rooting for your home team, the stadium is bedecked with advertisements. How about your local bar? When you watch a ball game on their TV rather than at home, that’s considered out-of-home. And, speaking of your local bar, does it post ads above the urinals? Talk about a captive audience.
If you’re a business-to-business marketer, you may consider out-of-home advertising to attract visitors to your tradeshow booth by using billboards along the airport-to-downtown highway. You may also consider mobile ads (roaming billboard towed by a truck throughout the time and area of the show).
Out-of-home is an extremely efficient medium. The operative word being efficient, not necessarily effective. If you post your outdoor billboard on the NJ Turnpike, an average of 200,000 motorists will see it as they drive by, each on an average of 20 times per month. At a cost of approximately $7,500 per month, that comes to $1.88 per one thousand exposures.
Unfortunately, out-of-home isn’t known to be an awareness-building medium and awareness is a key element for successful branding. The average billboard is seen for seven seconds. Very little information can be conveyed in that time. On the other hand, because the Coca-Cola logo, or the Sunkist logo, is very well known, out-of-home advertising serves as an effective reminder for them because they have high, top-of-mind awareness levels. How can you achieve that high, top-of-mind awareness level? Call us—or your own advertising and marketing professionals—and we’ll talk.
There is an exception to out-of-home’s limited ability to build awareness. However, it’s a bold move that requires a leap of faith and a willingness to defer results for several months. This tactic calls for using intriguing teaser ads for two or three months. These are ads that cause people to scratch their heads in wonder; ads without sponsor identification; often ads that don’t even hint at the product or service itself. Once the curiosity level peaks, the sales message is made clear and the advertiser and products/services revealed.
Whichever of the many options you choose, out-of-home is an exciting, creative medium, but it works best as part of an integrated communications program.
About the authors
Peter Hercky and Michael Pasqua are founding partners of Hercky Pasqua Herman, an award-winning full service advertising, marketing and public relations agency specializing in business-to-business clients. The firm offers a full range of services to clients in every budget category across a broad span of industries. Contact Hercky Pasqua Herman, 324 Chestnut Street, Roselle Park NJ 07204, telephone (908) 241-9474, email [email protected]