FE & Railway Station Adverts: Effective or a Money Wasting Idea?

20130603_151417I’m seeing an increasing number of FE establishments advertising on the railways.

Some sponsor the station itself, some grab all the advertising space at their nearest underground and some just dot ads close to local stations.

In all cases the argument is that of footfall.  A lot of people use stations I’m told.  I’m told they’ll see the ads as they wait or get off of trains. Well on that basis a lot of people use motorways so ads on or near slip roads also makes sense.

Is rail station advertising a good use of the marketing budget? Could we make some budget savings here?

The trackside advert that went unnoticed.

The thing is, as marketers know, footfall isn’t everything.  In my case I recently got off a train on my way to a college and, on arriving,  I was asked what I thought of their (expensive) rail station ad campaign.

Sadly, I hadn’t noticed it.

What really matters is getting in front of people that are in the research, or preferably “buying” mood. Otherwise our ads are missed or ignored.

As I say marketers know this and in most of the cases where I’ve seen campaigns like this they have emanated from the SLT ….. usually the Principal.


Where’s the evidence of marketing ROI?

When I query the rationale I’m told that it is about raising the college profile.  Well there are many ways to do this but I doubt rail station ads is the best.

Of course someone might write and tel me I’m wrong, that these ads have directly lead to applications.   That might be true.  But I’d like to see some evidence of it.

With the decrease in funding levels marketing is going to have to work much harder to ensure they optimise the ROI of every £ spent.  The problem I see with bill boards and station signs is that it is notoriously difficult to evidence the response we get.  And if anyone tells me there is anecdotal evidence it works I’m prepared to listen to them .. but it will not encourage me to spend money in this way.  I want hard evidence of the ROI wherever I can get it.


So is rail station advertising simply money wasted?

I honestly can’t say as I’ve not seen any figures where it has worked .. and it might have.  But I have seen people squirm when asked to evidence the money was well spent.

In my book I’d rather see money spent on a website, on PPC or even snail mail that can be measured.  But of course you might disagree .. if so please tell me.

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