There are 46 billboards between my house and my office.

As I drive by, I think about the business owner who buys a 30-foot space.

Let’s call him Bill.

“Bill, why did you buy a highway billboard”?

“It gives my company great exposure for getting more clients”

Like it’s some kind of pill that thwarts off disease.

Here’s the reality.

Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

Exposure doesn’t create a client.

Exposure does one thing.

It takes.

People who get lost in the woods don’t die of cold weather.

The die of EXPOSURE.

Business owners pay for billboards to get clients.

They think awareness attracts prospects and eventually leads to a sale.

They are right.

Just like paddling a rowboat with one oar will move the boat.

But did you get anywhere???

Driving by these billboards, I notice a tree with a red ribbon nailed to it.

I’ve passed this tree 2344 times for the past 10 years.

I never noticed the ribbon before.

Has it been there for 10 years or 10 minutes?

Now within my consciousness, I think about that red ribbon.

Trees don’t grow red ribbons. There’s a reason why it’s there.

There’s nothing different between the awareness billboard and the ribbon on the tree.

Here’s how you would be aware of the ribbon.

  1. You put it there.
  2. You know the person who put it there.
  3. You are thinking about putting a ribbon on your tree.
  4. The ribbon didn’t belong there. You want to know more about it, the reason it’s there, and anything else you can find out about it.

Advertising Awareness comes from the same strategies.

  1. You are already a customer.
  2. You know the owner or you know someone who works there.
  3. You are in the market to buy that product. The information is relevant to you.
  4. The company said something that resonates with you. You think about what was said long after you drove away.

The awareness strategies most business owners use target the first three customer types.

The first two are a waste of money if you run information-based ads.

The customers are already yours.

Providing awareness ads without further cementing a bond is a waste of money.

He knows you.

He buys your product.

He ALREADY likes you.

It’s the third and fourth customer types who are really reached with “exposure” ads.

The third type of customer is primed to buy from someone.

She may buy from you.

Your billboard might be at the right place at the right time.

An information-based billboard can work for HER.

The problem with the strategy is you want to time the market.

This is the ammunition digital marketers use against mass media.

You don’t know the customer, so you talk to everyone, hoping to find enough willing buyers.

Let me explain with an example.

You sell tires.

The customer has a tire guy for 20 years.

You need a compelling reason for her to remember you if her current relationship goes sour.

If it does go bad, all the young bucks wave their antlers woo-ing her their way.

Don’t play the young buck game.

The numbers aren’t in your favour.

To attract the fourth type of customer requires a compelling message that sticks with an audience when they become available.

Either they divorce their current provider, or they enter the product market for the first time

Some call this top of mind.

We call it creating connections.

There are more buyers in the future than there are today.

Build your business on the present buyer and your castle will be made of hay.

Build your business on the future buyer and your castle will be made of brick.

Own the future, become the King of your category with an impenetrable castle.