Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The case of a billboard campaign that works (unfortunately)

South Florida drivers are arguably the worst drivers in the country. You may debate this under the contention that New York, New Jersey or possibly Boston has far worse drivers than the Sunshine State. You’d be right, until you consider that South Florida is the retirement home for a fair number of road warriors from each of these areas. Put Joey Buttafuoco on I-95 next to Tony Soprano, merge a retired Cliff Clavin into traffic and you can see how South Florida is far more perilous for innocent commuters than the northeast.

So South Florida’s abominable drivers have only themselves to blame for the new billboard campaign that recently launched on major highways throughout the area. The message is simple and the graphics almost childlike. Even drivers careening by at 80mph (25mph over the posted limit) can easily recall the silhouette of a man slipping on a banana and the message “whocanisue.com.”

As appalling as many South Floridians have found its message, this advertising campaign illustrates perfectly the role simple creative plays in effective billboard advertising. The easy to recognize graphic, colorful lettering and text of just 14 characters (including the dot) is wholly memorable to drivers and potential plaintiffs.

Unlike other mediums, a billboard has very little time to make its message hit home. TV has the luxury of 30 seconds, radio has 60 seconds, newspaper ads can be read all day long. A billboard as two seconds or less to catch your attention.

Because of its short timeframe for impact, billboard advertising is one of the most difficult mediums to create ads for. We can, however learn a few things about effective billboard ads from our online lawyer friends.
  1. Keep text to seven words or less
  2. Use bold, simple fonts with no shadows and leave ample space between letters
  3. Use bright colors (reds, blues and greens are good choices)
  4. Graphics should be simple with one core elementAvoid using a light blue background (it blends in with the sky)
  5. Print a copy of your billboard sized to be about 2 inches wide. Hold it at arm’s length. If you can’t read it, neither can a driver.

Now that you know how to create effective billboard advertising, go out and procreate. And, let’s see something really good to replace the banana peel guy. How hard can THAT be?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

SEO/SEM Explained (in Non Geek language)

Back in the good ol' days, just having a website that worked was enough for any business. "Yes, we do have a website," business owners would say proudly. "You can visit us at www.mycompany.com."

Today, having a website is just the beginning of successfully competing in this new, confusing online world. Companies looking to gain new customers via the web are bombarded with sales pitches promising strange new things like optimization and keyword traffic.

Navigating the web world is not as confusing as it looks if you know a couple of basic terms and what they mean.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your website easier for search engines (Yahoo, Google) to find. A well optimized website will appear in a higher position when a web user searches for your category of product or service. The process of SEO involves improvements to your website such as implementing keywords, tagging graphics, titling pages and putting good text content on your site. Search engines like these things and will have an easier time finding you if your website has them.

SEM or Search Engine Marketing is the process of marketing your website through paid online marketing. SEM can take a lot of different forms, but the most common are keyword searches, banner advertisements and text ads. These types of marketing are sold either on impressions or by clicks.

Keywords are simply words that people may use to search for your product. For instance, "carpet" or "rug" would be common keywords used by people searching for a flooring retailer. Keywords can also include strings of words such as

"Palm Beach carpet store." Google Adwords is one of the best known keyword marketing services.

Pay Per Click
means exactly what it sounds like, you pay for people to click on your website. Pay Per Click programs usually involve buying certain keywords. When a user searches for a keyword you purchased, your website is listed. If they click on your website, you pay a predetermined amount for that click.

Impressions are the number of people who see your ad message. An impression is not a click. It simply means your ad appeared on a page that the web user viewed.

Still confused? Stephanie Leffler from Networks Solutions gives some great tips in this four-minute You Tube video.