advertising vacationersLast week, I escaped the cold New England winter for the warm, sunny skies of the Florida Keys. (Yes, that’s a photo from my stay. Did it grab you, or what?!) While driving on and off of the famous Seven Mile Bridge, I thought about the advertising techniques of the local and big box businesses that reside there.

Billboards plastered the sides of the highway touting everything from fish dinners to sandals to dolphin encounters. Much like any other mainstream vacation spot, this is a common practice, but for how long?

Businesses need to realize that traditional advertising, such as billboards, should not be the next thing around the bend. Change is coming, and in many cases, it has already arrived.

Instead of the construction of more billboards and signage, businesses are — and need to be — moving their messages to the palms of our hands. Today’s vacationer is not reading billboards, but rather searching their smartphones for the information they need. It’s about providing information at the time and place the consumer wants it. I’m not looking for dolphin encounters today, so why is that billboard telling me about it? That is not the right message.

There’s one more shift impacting today’s consumer. Today’s consumer is looking for information from their peers, not from companies. A vacationer wants to hear from other vacationers. Peer review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp are answering all of the questions consumers are asking. It’s immediate. Gone are the days of searching the local paper for restaurant ads. Now I can search for top restaurants in Key West faster than a chef can serve up oysters.

Today we have the opportunity to be targeted marketers with the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Take down the billboards and replace them with nests for the endangered birds. Let consumers do the talking to inform other consumers. Whether it’s cooking fish or selling goods, be exceptional at what you do. Only then will the vacationers come….and tell their friends.

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