Twelve months worth of words add up. From blog posts to brochures, websites to marketing collateral, I have found words to explain, entice and entertain. Yet, some of the most compelling words I have come across were in an unlikely, unexpected place—Pella, Iowa.
My husband and I were making the trek from visiting my family in Nebraska to his in Illinois for the holidays. Without warning, we wandered into a marketing campaign in the middle of America’s cornfields. In the current generation of technology and newfangled marketing gimmicks, there stood a campaign built on simple common sense and as effective as a multimillion dollar agency-derived strategy: handmade billboards scattered along the highway. On barns, in fields, near homes, out in the open, the signs echoed a simple, consistent message: “No regional airport. No higher taxes. We are fine as-is.”
While I was certainly not in their target market, the signs got my attention. I felt connected to the campaign—to the farmers fighting to keep their land, to the residents resisting higher taxes and unnecessary expenditures, to the future generations who would be impacted by the decision. The signs were handmade and heartfelt—there is nothing more authentic than that.
What happens in Pella will not impact most of us, but its marketing campaign can. I spend countless hours consulting with clients on various marketing strategies, but, at the end of the day, there is no replacement for genuine, passionate marketing. Handmade signs along the road might not work for you, but rather than put all your effort into tweets and SEO, think about two things:
- Where is your audience?
- How can you reach them in a unique way?
In the case of the Pella airport campaign, their target market was likely to be traveling along that main highway (goal 1 accomplished) and the handmade signs were eye-catching, particularly in the Midwest where people rarely voice opinions let alone launch campaigns along the roadside (goal 2 accomplished). While there were some expenditures of time and money to make the signs, I bet the costs were minimal compared to traditional billboards, advertisements, print/digital/electronic campaigns (BONUS!).
So next time you’re thinking about shelling out money on a fancy campaign, think about Pella. There is certainly a time and a place for investing in marketing campaigns that tap into the current trends and technology. But in today’s push-messaging environment, you can stand out by thinking old-school once in a while. Pella sure did.