Most billboards are reminders; they are not to make you take action in the moment you see them – it’s still rather difficult to buy a car while driving in one at 70 mph down a motorway. Beyond being an eyesore, billboards are there to build your memory bank of the brand, so that we you do need to buy a car or whatever, you’ll associated car with a particular brand.
More than that they also exist to associate a certain type of status with a brand. When you drive this type of car, you are part of this status group in society. If you want to be part of this group, drive this car. Most importantly, this is not just about getting people to purchase; it is also reminding people that they made the right purchase.
We all know the emotional excitement we feel in the lead up to a purchase and at the moment of purchase, we also know that often the moment we get home or the day after, the excitement is gone and we look around for clues and confirmation that we made the correct purchase. Seeing billboards and advertisements that remind us the car we bought is associated with a group, a status reassure us we have purchased correctly.
Most advertisements, not just billboards, work this way – connect a category of purchase to a brand, connect brand to a certain status, and reassure us we made wise purchase choices.
This has made me wonder, when we hire a new team member, how do we, as the hiring team, reassure the new team member that they have made the right choice by joining our team and how does the new team member reassure the hiring manager that she has made the right choice? I don’t think we do this well; I’m not even sure we would know how to do it. I think we often assume there is no need and yet the job we do is arguably more important in our lives than the car we drive and the choices of jobs are much greater than the choices of cars.
So why don’t we do this? What would ‘reassurance that we made a wise choice” look like if we did? I think it must be much more than “I have the skills to do the job” and “Our team functions well” -> that would be like billboards about cars saying the engine turns on and move the wheels. The basic assumption is that the car works, the billboard is all about emotions and status. So what would that look like in your job?
If nothing else, it is interesting mind experiment. And for the record, I’m not advocating for billboards, in fact I dislike them strongly and would be happy if they didn’t exist.