Is it game over for print? Not at all! Just work out where people aren’t using their phones. Let’s explore some promising venues for where your print marketing can still have maximum effect.
Mobile’s inexorable march across the digital landscape, warping the very dimensions through which it strides, seems like a fact of marketing life in 2018.
Mobile now accounts for nearly 70% of the time we spend chowing down on digital media. To chase this audience, I see marketers now adopting an attitude that’s not just mobile-first, but mobile exclusive.
However, all the doomsaying about zombie people shambling around, phones glued to their hands 24/7 isn’t quite accurate just yet.
Take a peek at 10 places your print marketing can still make a difference.
The Tube: Word’s your oyster
Oh god, is there anything worse than accidentally making eye contact with someone on the Tube? One of you might smile, and then… do you start a conversation or what? People are weird.
Instead, place your marketing collateral just above eye-height and capitalise on the crippling social anxiety which is ruining Western civilisation.
Meanwhile, on the platforms themselves, longform copy returns for its final great hurrah, with Londoners sometimes being forced to stand waiting as long as 180 seconds for their tube!
While they pass through this intolerable abyss of inaction, flex your narrative muscles and give them something to read. Take a peek at this ad for good old Jack Daniel’s, see how it draws the reader into the mythology of the brand with a gorgeous interplay of copy and design hearkening back to, frankly, a better age of advertising.
Thirsty for more examples? Check out our Pinterest board. And if you’re not based in London, never fear. The same effect can be achieved in the carriages and vestibules of provincial trains. Anywhere people are crammed together like sardines with a desperate urge to look at anything but each other, you’re golden.
Number two: Toilets
Now, on to the basis for centuries of good old ribald British humour: defecation. Depending on the genitals of their guests, public toilets either offer a decent opportunity to catch an audience with their pants down, or an excellent one.
The back of a stall door is prime real estate, with some great examples to point to, although you’re still not avoiding phone-hands except when folk are first sitting down or standing up.
Instead, it is the humble urinal which truly serves as the print marketer’s dream.
Consider the urinal. Positioned at eye height, never much more than a foot away from the audience’s face. Presented at a time when one or both hands are full, making phone use impossible. Placing your poster here will get it seen, and hopefully prompt your audience to come spend a penny or two.
This example from Bucharest, where drunk drivers are disproportionately male, combines bold, simple copy with an innovative spin on context and a dash of humour. The result is a golden example of ad placement which makes sure urine the know.
Vehicles: Driving engagement
You can’t use your phone when driving because you should really be looking at other vehicles… so advertise on the vehicles.
Known as wrap advertising, this is the kind of stuff you see on buses, trams, and company vehicles bearing branded livery. It’s what separates your run-of-the-mill white van man from a captain of commerce. And it works! More than 90% of Brits live within five minutes of a bus route, making for a huge potential audience.
Of course, you’ve got to be strategic and match your ads to the people you want to see them. City-centre trams are going to reach more urban leisure-spenders than a rural bus route.
Don’t forget the back of your vehicles either. Trust us, we’re in Cambridge, we know all about traffic jams. Be sure to make proper use of all available space… and give your vehicles a regular scrub.
It’s also worth mentioning that you need to ensure your vehicle ad exists in some kind of larger strategy. A van isn’t going to wait while someone scribbles your phone number down, you need to provide a strong visual link to your other marketing so that people realise where they’ve seen you.
Oh, and if you’re going to write something on a bus: make sure you get your numbers right, or they’ll never let you live it down.
Petrol stations: Diesel be perfect
The idea that tiny electric sparks from your phone can lead to enormous fiery explosions in petrol stations has prompted widespread bans of phone use on garage forecourts worldwide.
In reality, this is a complete urban myth; the worst burn you’ll catch from the latest iPhone will be the price. But don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of an advertising environment where phone use is typically still banned.
Because there are so many flat surfaces and things to look at when visiting the petrol station, it’s like reaching back in time to when you could get really imaginative with your ads, without phones distracting everyone.
Next time you’re filling up your car, pay attention to just how much of the space around you is taken up with ads. The pumps, the windows, free-standing banners and sandwich boards. Even the nozzles are branded nowadays. As part of a targeted, relevant ad strategy, this presents you with a range of options.
Billboards: Hit the road, Jack
With increasing crackdowns on phone use while driving, billboard advertising is not going away any time soon. In fact, the advent of digital billboards has only increased the medium’s versatility.
It doesn’t even have to break the bank. A well-placed run of just a few billboards (displaying a jaw-dropper of an advert) can give even smaller brands a big boost to local exposure.
We’ll also include bus shelter ads under this category, which can be enhanced even further with QR codes and augmented reality to blur the lines between print and digital.
Speaking of augmenting reality, take a look at this from Allstate Insurance. Yup, that’s a billboard, juxtaposed with the audience’s greatest fear. In terms of placement, ambition, impact, and direct copy, this is a tough one to beat.
On a plane: Give your ads some air time
It’s time for take-off. Return your seats to their upright position, stow your tray, turn your phone off and… do nothing. For hours.
Air travel is a reality of life in a connected world, but it can’t half get dull once you’ve already suffered through the in-flight film and choked down the complimentary gruel.
Small wonder, then, that those magazines in the seat pocket always look so well-loved. Placing an ad in the pages of these magazines will ensure the rapt, captive attention of a broad range of travellers.
Here, you’re back to the golden age of imagination-led, genuine creativity. You can place a smaller, high-impact ad with a condensed message your audience will remember, or sponsor a long-form article on a topic connected to your product.
I just got back from the Continent, where I was treated to an article about Greek liquor, obviously a branded ad-article, but there was such joy in the writing that I didn’t care. I fully bought into the author’s quest, sampling good honest ouzo with the fishermen down by the docks before sipping ouzitos with stockbrokers that same evening.
Not only did it keep me thoroughly entertained on my, albeit short, aerial jaunt, it was also a darned compelling case for the product.
In the gym: Get your work out there
The endless tirade of selfies from the ‘new year new me’ crowd might lead you to believe otherwise, but a lot of gyms are actually quite strict when it comes to phone use. For obvious reasons, the idea of wandering around live streaming everyone in their sweaty lycra is frowned upon.
This means that the gym could be a good place to drop a few pounds and get your brand’s exposure whipped into shape. Obviously this is dependent on what you’re selling – chocolatiers need not apply – but if the right opportunity comes along: weigh it up carefully.
For brands aimed at the intentionally nebulous ‘active lifestyle’ market, the sky’s the limit here. This demographic tends to be image-conscious, aspirational, and with money to burn! Craft an ad which drills into their need to present their very best selves, talk about positive personality attributes, tie your product to those desirable traits, and watch your audience break a sweat.
Bar mats: Soak up the exposure
It’s not all about monetising our contempt for one another. Social gatherings present their own opportunities for cunning marketing placement.
Though waning in the face of cheap supermarket booze and copy/paste chain pub fatigue, the lure of the local still brings the lads and lasses in for a cheeky couple now and then. What better time to pour out some smooth, intoxicating marketing?
Advertising your product on bar mats brings you into a relaxed, friendly atmosphere where most punters have their guard down. You can get creative with shape, colour, and messaging to craft a tabletop advert which really stands out and gets your audience raising a glass to your genius.
Mental health charity, Time to Change, absolutely smashed this out of the ballpark earlier this year with these sagacious bar mats.
With suicide claiming 84 British men every week, and the media not particularly fussed about drawing attention to the problem, this campaign provided a desperately needed, plain-talking aid to those who still feel unsure about how to raise the topic.
Shop checkouts: High Visa-bility
Using your phone at a shop or supermarket checkout might not be banned exactly, but it certainly is blummin’ rude. Pounce on this social convention and see if your product could find ad space here.
Extensive research has gone into the psychology of store layouts, with smaller items placed at the checkout to encourage last-minute impulse buying. While advertising placed here doesn’t quite achieve that same kind of instant conversion, it’s a good time to embed your message while the consumer is in a suggestible state.
Typically, what springs to mind with this kind of advertising involves huge supermarket tie-ins with big brands. But it’s an approach that can scale to any business and any budget. An independent trader could benefit from a well-placed flyer at the checkout of the local corner shop, the principle of matching content to context is exactly the same.
Hospitals: Marketing on the wing
Hospitals nowadays are more lax with their phone use policy than they were back when we were certain that mobile phones cause cancer (we now know they only make you blind, so that’s okay).
Nevertheless, some areas of some hospitals still restrict mobile phones. That means they’re prime candidates for print marketing campaigns. As for the other areas, well, let’s just say that hospital Wi-Fi isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of communications technology. While people are sat around with nowt else to do but feel anxious, you’d be doing them a favour by distracting them with a fun little ad.
Plus, you’re not exactly going to be up against killer competition. Local businesses can produce some lacklustre examples of marketing (we name no names). So, if you’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into crafting a jaw-dropping advert (or paid someone to do it for you, hint hint), this is its time and place to shine.
When all’s said and done, not only is there a good chance your ad will get seen, the money you pay will go towards the noble cause of supporting our beloved NHS, a true commercial win-win.
Great marketing anywhere by Sookio
No matter where you want to spread your organisation’s message, we can help craft the winning strategy and engaging content to make it happen.
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