All this marketing looks great, but actually, we need more sales

I was in the car yesterday following a bus through Bath. On the back of the Bus was the ‘bus back’ poster below. 

I looked hard,  I had no idea what it was all about. Even when I looked at the photo after I was home I was still none the wiser.

So how might this all have come about? (After a little research I discovered it was an ad for the Bath Preservation Trust – a worthwhile and interesting charity in Bath).

Now I can only speculate here, but I imagine this journey started with the Trust wanting to ‘raise its profile’. Why? To attract money and support I suspect.

Bus back advertising was presumably chosen because it’s a good value marketing channel designed to deliver the message to the ‘right people’. More about that below!

The designer was briefed, the design was signed off, the artwork provided to the bus back printers and the campaign went live.

Putting to one side for a moment the issues of relevant media, targeting and messaging, perhaps the biggest rookie mistake was in not understanding how bus back advertising works. 

Signing off a design from an emailed or even printed PDF fails to take into account the fact that a bus back, like any other form of outdoor advertising, is a ‘fleeting medium’. It needs to work very fast indeed if it’s not to be ignored. 

AIDA – attention, interest, desire, action! This old marketing acronym is as relevant today as it ever was.

Have a look below at my favourite, and most enduring, example of an effective ‘fleeting’ poster. Is anyone in any doubt about this poster’s message? Look back at the Bath Preservation Trust’s bus-back message – you’ll see what I mean.


There is then the issue of messaging and targeting – and again there are some rookie mistakes on Bath Preservation Trust’s bus back.

Am I really about to suggest to you, the reader, that a marketing message requires a proposition of some sort? Something to entice the prospect in, something to create some interest and desire? It seems so!

Actually, my rant is not really about this bus back. It’s more about what I see in the world of marketing: a lack of understanding about how to build effective marketing campaigns that deliver against the brief. 

That brief might be direct sales, or just raising awareness, that in time leads to sales. And by ‘sales’ I mean anything that attracts the customers to transact; be that a charity wanting donations, or visitors to a venue, or an IT company or solicitor wanting more clients.

Is anyone to blame?

I do think that the way many companies now buy their marketing services is partly to blame. What do I mean by this? Well, ‘who you see is what you get’. Whichever marketing specialisation you choose, from the social media expert, or web designer to the ‘design for print’ marketing company or even the media company selling bus back advertising, you’ll end up with a proposal for their products and services. 

It’s just not joined up, is devoid of effective, strong messaging and lacks a coherent marketing and sales strategy. And that often means you’ll end up without the one thing you need. Those elusive sales or engaged customers and prospects.

Perhaps you’d like a chat about how your business or organisation could be getting more for less? That’s more engagement and sales, with less waste.

Feel free to get in touch, I’d welcome the opportunity of a conversation.