Waste Ad Space, Lose Customers!

Today, there is a vast landscape out there of real estate for marketers to try and sell us on their products.

Billboards, newspaper ads, TV, banner ads, those little, annoyingly persistent popup ads that swallow up your screen and hide the “X” so you don’t know how to get rid of them (what are those CALLED, anyway?), and more. The Internet has made it inifinitely easier for marketers to reach their target.

With the explosion of ways to reach your customer, wouldn’t you want to make sure you have the most effective message you can have, thereby maximizing your return on investment in whatever your chosen marketing media (what I’m referring to here as marketing real estate) is?

What about your return on investment in your target customer’s attention span? That’s even more precious (and hard to come by) than space on a billboard, or an email campaign.

It hurts to see companies waste resources (time, money, ad space, HIGHWAY CLUTTER) by creating marketing that is just wasteful. Think of the environment, people! Do we need even more useless, empty words an images polluting our roads, newspapers, and online journeys through cyberia?


Discount Tire is a great company. We have been buying tires from them for years. The thing that keeps us coming back is their customer service.

They fix our flat tires free of charge.
They rotate our tires free of charge.
They put air in my tires and calibrate the pressure free of charge.
They have a great system that keeps track of us as customers and they can quickly look us up and provide the service we need, even across different states.
They treat people like PEOPLE.

Driving on the highway today, I saw a billboard for Discount Tire that just made me sad. All it said was:


There are SO many things that make Discount Tire stand out from its competition that could have been highlighted in that space above the road.

Also, isn’t the price point advantage (i.e. cheap prices) already built into the company’s name????
Hello, it’s called DISCOUNT Tires.

Price advantage, in my opinion, is no longer a competitive edge that companies should rely on in their marketing.
These days, you need a more human edge. 

On the other hand, the first time I saw Chik fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” billboard (see below), I probably laughed for a full 15 minutes (and then many many other minutes later when thinking about the billboard).

Part of it was just the absurdity in seeing cows look like they were painting a billboard and trying to convince people to eat chicken instead of beef, but mostly, it was the genius in the framing of their core message:

Chik Fil-A really just wants you to eat more chicken. (At their restaurants, preferably).

The company has come up with a number of other campaigns that are offshoots of the above message, but again, I think most of them are just a waste of marketing real estate and trying to copy/mimic the success of the billboard above.

As Seth Godin says in his book Purple Cow, sometimes, doing nothing is better than doing too much, or doing something that is not effective. (More on Purple Cow here).

Marketers – please stop wasting your precious marketing real estate!
As the world gets more and more connected, online, and distracted, you need to think harder about how to get and keep our attention and interest.


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