Marketing to Pedestrians

We market to business travelers and we market to leisure travelers. We market to Gen X and we market to seniors. We market to people in cars on the highway via large billboards but why is such little attention paid to marketing to pedestrians? Everyone has to get out of the car and walk at some time.

Marketers advertise at bus stops and on buses and cabs but not many companies have really tried to market to pedestrians. I’ve always thought that the ultimate goal of marketing is to get you to open your wallet and buy something. Well, why not market to consumers when their wallets are already open? Talk to them when they are in a buying mood. If you’re not buying online then you are most likely a pedestrian when you’re out buying. That is the time to hit them with your message.

Please take note that a sign with your business name or logo on it is not a marketing piece. It’s just an announcement that you’re there. Furthermore, the ever-present “Sale” sign is so common-place, it is now overlooked by most consumers.

Since you can’t just hang your marketing message from the sky, you need an “anchor” on which to put it. Whether you’re in the city or the suburbs, you could put your message on a bus stop structure, an A-stand, or a person in a costume holding a sign.

An A-stand is a quick inexpensive way to get your message to consumers passing by your location. These stands can be purchased at any sign shop and your message can be changed and inserted daily. The drawback of them is that it must remain close to your actual location.

On the other hand, you can market on bus stops all over town and be seen by many people but it is expensive and requires professional graphic design and printing. It may not be worthwhile for smaller businesses.

Advertising outside of your own business, as well as synergistic businesses or even near your competition, would be key in catching potential customers. You really must give some thought into where your potential customers are located. If you know that your business has a potential tie-in to another business (i.e. you sell dress shoes and another store sells suits) then you would want to advertise to their customers. Moreover, you can also target your competitors’ customers with strategically placed ads.

There are advertising tools, such as the AshCan, that can go anywhere. Depending on where you’re located, Placemat ads that are placed in diners, restaurants, and bars can be an excellent targeting tool for you to communicate with your potential customers. While those patrons will not be pedestrians when they see your ad, they may be out on a shopping trip and stopped for a bite to eat before continuing shopping. And don’t forget that you can always hire high school kids to hand out flyers with a coupon to help drive sales.

The main point of this article is for you to not overlook marketing to pedestrians. Look for ways to reach pedestrians besides just your business sign or a “Sale” sign. Investigate advertising tools that market to pedestrians when they’re out in a buying mood. Don’t miss your opportunity. Finally, give thought as to which businesses have a direct link to your business and which are direct competitors then advertise at or near those businesses.

This isn’t rocket science but it does require some thought and investigation. Taking these small steps will put your far ahead of your competition and leave them wondering where their customers have gone.