I loved the film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri! And I was delighted when it won the Best Film BAFTA and both the BAFTA and Oscar Best Actress Awards for Frances McDormand.

It has also had the side effect of making billboards increasingly popular for business promotion again. Being a digital marketer, I’m not such a fan of promotional opportunities where the results are very hard to measure. Being an inbound marketer, I’m not a great fan of putting something out there and hoping that it will hit the right spot.

Successful marketing is the act of reaching the right person with the right ad at exactly the right time – when they are ready to buy. That doesn’t normally happen when someone is driving to work. Or, if it does, it’s a big ask to expect them to remember your ad by the time they reach their destination.

Fighting Back When Local Business Owners Make Absurd Marketing Decisions

Recently we spoke with a local professional services company.

They had paid ‘a premium price’ for a billboard on one of the main routes into London for December and January – it was already booked out for the rest of the year by the regular user so they were willing to take a chance in these off season months when it was available. They didn’t seem to care about asking why the person who rented it for the rest of the year was not interested in those two months… And they were looking for another billboard opportunity!

They said: “It was quite expensive but it did pay dividends”

We hear a lot of these types of claims and now prefer to dig a little deeper to get to the truth.

How do you know it paid dividends?
Well some of our existing clients mentioned it.
Did they buy something else?
Well no… but a few new clients came through it
How do you know?
They said they had ‘seen us’ but didn’t know where – so we put it down to the billboard

Why would you want to increase an already large spend here when you don’t actually know if it’s working? No one has actually said ‘I saw your billboard!’

The same company had come to us because they wanted our help to manage their account as they increased their Google AdWords budget from £100 to £1000/month.
I asked what results have you had that make you want to increase your budget?
I don’t know, we set it up ourselves and we can’t understand how to set up the tracking
Why did you think you needed Google AdWords?
Because our competitors are all advertising on there so we think there is potential for us
But if you don’t know if it’s working for you, why do you want to increase your spend by 10x?

What other marketing are you doing?
Well we launched a website nearly a year ago – we built it ourselves after some bad experiences with two local web designers
How’s that working for you?
Oh, we don’t know because we can’t understand the Analytics. But we’re getting lots of enquiries
Did you ask any of your enquiries where they saw you?
They all said ‘On Google’
So that could be your AdWords, your website, your Maplisting… The only thing we know for sure is that it’s not your billboard!

Rather than quote to increase their AdWords spend, I suggested that I investigate their sales funnel properly – set up the tracking on their existing account, see if the landing page is appealing to anyone who does click on their ads, analyse their website visitors and best pages – to work out what was working and what wasn’t.
Oh no, we just want you to quote for creating the AdWords ads
But why would you want to pay someone to drive paid traffic to a sales funnel that is full of holes?

Why are you being so difficult? The other local agencies have quoted just to manage the increased AdWords spend…

And this brings me back to my previous post about family-run professional services companies and how easy it is for charlatans to part them from their money.

Click on the image below to find out more about how to get more customers for your family run professional services business.

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