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Why are you still using traditional advertising?

I’ve noticed the new trend with billboards for cars is to put LED lights into the area on the car where the actual lights are. I had the pleasure to see this on the corner of William Nicol and Sandton Drive in Johannesburg as well as when you you get off the N3 highway by the Linksfield offramp. I’ve included an unrelated picture but imagine the lights on the picture actually glowing.

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This costs a lot of money. To give you some costs a “cheap” billboard with a mere 20000 odd cars per day flow goes for R8,000 per month ex vat. In addition there is a production cost and this is only for a 3X6 meter billboard. I don’t know the exact cost for a full size billboard or one in prime locations but lets conservatively estimate it at R40,000 per month.

My point isn’t necessarily about the costs it’s about the complete stupidity of it all. I still daily get flyers for car services and other products. I’m not talking “Dr Shabangu’s penis enlargement” here, I’m talking proper businesses with franchises and physical properties.

Not only is it a lot of money but chances are your audience is checking their phones while waiting in traffic. Sure, it’s possibly a good branding exercise for something expensive like a car but ultimately it’s just that, people looking at your car. They have no info on the specs, the price or the competition. You could pretty much plaster your brand to every person on Facebook for the same price.

This isn’t the first nor the last blog post someone will write about the bizarre nature of traditional advertisers. However, I can’t help but wonder why a brand manager isn’t making an effort to diversify.

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Charging for your blog is career limiting

Prolific blogger Cape Town Girl has come out with a post about how you should start charging for content on your site. Her argument is summed up in one sentence:

The short answer is: start charging.

I must applaud CTG for her stance on this. For too long bloggers have been taken advantage of, excited by the free “stuff” that PR companies fob on them. As a blogger if you receive said “free stuff” you’re considered to have “made it” and are someone worth listening to. PR people call you “influential”. Sadly, free stuff doesn’t pay the bills and you can only eat so many canapés at the latest launch event. Charging for space on your blog makes sense; you’ve got an audience so make some money hawking stuff to them.

There is one problem that I don’t think CTG has considered: she looks like a brand whore pedalling other people’s crap. This quote by Mad Men’s Don Draper pretty much hits the mark on what I’m talking about:

“What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”

To illustrate my point I’ve childishly cribbed from CTG’s Instagram stream. This a real picture, I have in no way modified it (except maybe for the writing in red):

You don’t go around telling people how much money you made last month (unless you’re nouveau riche, which in that case how is the Range Rover Evoque treating you?) and you really shouldn’t go around telling people you can be bought. I’m not naive enough to talk about integrity, morals and ethics but I can tell you it’s bad business to only do things for a profit. I have no idea if “Bread Milk & Forgot a comma” paid for that that image and even if they didn’t, I’ll avoid it like the plague from now on.

You know those annoying 30-minute fillers on TV where a family of four talk about how much they love Maggie Two Minute Noodles? Everyone knows that’s an advertorial and the same goes for magazines, newspapers or radio. Anyone with more than two IQ points knows that the moment you’re basically putting a rate card on your blog the content becomes bumpf and insincere. Charging for your work is great, making yourself look like a gigantic billboard is really silly. As someone who has worked in real online publishing I’ll give you a tip: begging is probably more lucrative.

Charge for your blog so you can make enough money to buy everyone at &Union a round of Weiss beer but don’t be so ignorantly blunt about it.