Billboards were the first form of advertising. And while we see them around, we have quickly learned that this immeasurable, outbound form of marketing isn't very cost-effective. And although we have grown past our billboard days and established a solid online presence, we must never forget all that we learned from marketing in the past.
Introducing the billboard exercise: the one and only workout that will put your brand into the shape it needs to send the right message. *Wink Wink*
This all-in-one workout comes in a 3-part series, which will help you identify your core marketing message and improve your inbound marketing. Simply follow the instructions below and see the results right before your eyes!
Getting the motivation to go to the gym often requires convincing your friends to join you for some moral support. Similarly, you’ll need to rally up the troops for this exercise. A brand's messaging should never rest on the shoulders of one person. This message is supposed to represent your product or service, and to effectively communicate what that product or service is, all employees need to know exactly what the brand message is. (This doesn’t mean you need every person at your company involved, but there should be a core group that is working together to create this message).
This is the most important part—the part where you lose weight! Many marketers jump ahead into the bigger picture. They have a beautiful storyline for advertising, a fantastic strategy for reaching out to blogs, and even know what social media platforms to promote their big ideas through. But before you can do any of that, you need to lose all the details and focus on what exactly the brand message is.
A successful billboard, typically, is one that defines the brand message in 7 words or fewer. And that is exactly what you need to do with your brand. If you can narrow down what your entire brand message is in a mere 7 words (or fewer), than you have clearly defined exactly what your brand does in a short, elevator speech format. This statement should reflect what your brand can deliver, believes, stands for, and does. You can then use this message and expand upon it in your inbound marketing efforts.
When writing a blog post, think, “Does this message reflect our billboard message?” When designing your Facebook business page, think, “Is the way we describe ourselves representative of our billboard message?” When creating a YouTube video, think, “Does this truly communicate our billboard message?”
You can provide details, images, context, and various other things when messaging your brand online. The purpose of the billboard exercise is to have that lucid one-liner that is omnipresent in every message you send.
Now that you have narrowed your brand message down, it’s time to show it off! In the brand world, the perfect outfit comes shaped in a call-to-action (CTA). A CTA is an image or text that tells your visitors what action they should take next on your site. The hope is that these CTAs will lead to landing pages where you can collect your visitors’ contact information in exchange for an offer they believe will benefit them. In other words, ebooks, webinars, whitepapers, and other free content giveaways.
Use the statement you created earlier as the inspiration behind these CTAs. Dress up your brand message with images, narration, and data. Your brand will feel young, hip, and super popular.
Now that you’ve completed this 3-part workout—never lose steam! It’s easy to bask in the results of that solid week when you went to the gym every day, and then let that excuse why you never went again after that. The message created from this billboard exercise should be remembered in every campaign you create. While your various campaigns may promote disparate parts of your business, all your marketing efforts need to be reflective of that key brand message. This message is what you and your company stands for, and you should never lose sight of that.
Do you think the billboard exercise is important? How else can you implement it?
Originally published Oct 21, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013