While flying up I-94 near Libertyville, Illinois, I handed Jennine my cell phone. “Take a picture of that billboard,” I urgently commanded.
I had seen the billboard before. The last time we passed it on our way to my in-law’s house for Thanskgiving.
The billboard had been bugging me for the last five weeks because I couldn’t figure out what it was for. While cruising by at 65mph (maybe more) I could only read one line – Choose Excellence. Choose Vista.
I play this game every time we drive up the interstate.
Did that company waste their money on a billboard?
I like to assess each billboard as we fly by. What is their message? What is their call to action? If I was interested in learning more about them what would I do next?
Choose Excellence – Choose Vista had been the clear loser on our last trip. And I still had no idea what they were selling on pass number two. So I had Jennine take a picture so I could study it later.
Before you click this link to see the photo. Put yourself in driving mode. You’re zipping along in heavy traffic just North of Chicago on a major interstate. There are large trucks all around. You only have a moment to glance at the billboard from the corner of your eye.
On a mobile device? Click here to see the photo
Now try to answer some of these questions…
- What are they selling?
- Why would you be interested?
- Did they make an offer?
- What should you do next if you want more information?
With this billboard I couldn’t answer any of these questions. On the first pass I caught the bold headline, Vista and the logo-puke. But nothing else.
On the second pass I caught the headline, Vista, logo-puke and the word ‘cancer’. Ah, a clue.
Now that I can sit and study the photo, I realize it’s an ad for Vista Health Systems. But even still, I have no idea what that is. A little Google research and I find that they’re a network of hospitals, clinics, surgery centers and doctors.
Maybe if I lived in the area I would recognize their name. But I don’t. And new residents wouldn’t either.
And what’s with all the logos? Even with my photo I can’t make out what they are. My guess is they are awards they have won.
I give this ad a total fail on the 65mph test.
All marketing needs to pass the 65mph test
If you can’t communicate what your message is at a glance, people aren’t going to invest the time to find out. Only a total marketing geek like myself would have his wife take a picture of a billboard so he can study it later.
With everything you create run it past the 65mph test. This includes…
- Leave behinds
- Business cards
Everything should instantly communicate what you do, who you do it for and why they should care about you. For most of your materials, people will have the luxury of learning more right there. Websites and emails will have all the details right there. Don’t be fooled. The 65mph test is still important for these formats.
As consumers we’re bombarded with marketing messages everyday. We need to be choosy with how we spend our time. If your prospect can’t instantly identify that your offer is worthy of further investigation, they will move on. Quickly. They might as well be driving by at 65mph.
Read your own material. Does it pass the 65mph test? Would you want to stop and learn more or would you just keep flying by and wonder “What the heck was that all about?”