Recently, I found myself walking through New York’s Times Square. While I’m no stranger to the benefits and strategies of Times Square advertising, I stopped for a moment to look at my fellow pedestrians and wonder how many of them were going to take these advertising messages home with them — or even keep them in their minds for 3 seconds.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the value of Times Square. It’s big, it’s bright, it’s international, and it’s full of people taking pictures! But this oversaturated environment reminded me of the countless client stories and complaints I’ve heard about how Times Square advertising isn’t noticed because of marketplace clutter.
I don’t mean to take pot shots at America’s holiest of outdoor advertising playgrounds. But I can’t avoid thinking about how that money could be spent in alternative ways. I’m not suggesting you swap your outdoor strategy for something different. But brands have to act differently in the “everywhere” space. Instead of advertising everywhere, why not expand your accessibility and reach so you can be accessible everywhere?
Over the past year, I’ve discussed how you can surprise and delight digital customers through the use of new platforms. Simply showing up in unexpected places can provide valuable services and create a longer-lasting impression that can help transform a customer into a passionate brand evangelist. This isn’t a strategy for the masses; it’s a strategy to get people talking. And these people tend to talk loudly.
Emerging platforms have their limits. It would be completely unfair to compare the value of an RSS feed to one minute of pedestrian traffic below a (I can’t even think of a Times Square advertiser!) Samsung sign (I’m assuming it’s still there), but there’s something nice about accommodating a consumer who chooses to follow a brand in an alternative way.
For example, yesterday I learned about new features on the Nintendo Wii’s Photo Channel. A blog post led me to a page on the Nintendo Wii site, which documented the upcoming feature set. I was surprised that Nintendo was so upfront about pending features. However, I was put off that there was no RSS feed. Here I was, ready to commit to a long-term relationship with Nintendo product information. Instead, I’ll have to rely on a third-party editorial resource to stay up to date.
Another example is Facebook. While it’s a media property, it’s also a consumer product. Within six weeks of the iPhone launch, Facebook optimized its site specifically for iPhone users. This was a surprise and a very useful tool that allows Facebook users to access their social life through their new mobile device. Within hours of the launch, iPhone users were boasting about their new exceptional experience. It only took another six to eight weeks for Facebook to launch its BlackBerry application, which provides a similar feature set and allows users to contribute photos to Facebook.
It didn’t take a strategy department for Facebook to understand how to better connect with its customers. It knows what its customers were talking about, what would excite them, and that people were accessing the site already with the iPhone.
What are the advantages of accessibility everywhere? They’re certainly more qualitative than quantitative, as the results may be more social than you think:
- Maintain your social relevancy. For the same reason you’d want to be on the hottest primetime television show, wouldn’t you also want to be on the device that everyone wants for Christmas?
- Increase your reliability. What consumer wouldn’t be happy with reliable brand information?
- Be a subject of conversation. Your extended access may become a topic of conversation as platform and device enthusiasts discuss your efforts with other users.
- Move with your audience. Your audience is always trying new things. Why not join them for the ride?
Get out there and try something new. You just may surprise someone.