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“The Old 96’er”

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Once A Week, But Never Weakly

 

by Nick Coston, OOH Media Buyer & Industry Agent

 

“The Old 96’er”

I can’t say enough about anyone who wants to really succeed in the OOH industry, to get up from your desk, computer or recently the kitchen counter, and go see the locations you are recommending or buying. See the neighborhoods, ride the roads leading in and out, buy a local hot dog. Even if their digital units are inside an apartment building or posters as you enter the men’s locker room in a health club.

If you’re going to recommend to a client that they consider buying these, you or someone you work with needs to see them in person.

But why Nick, they send photos, Google Earth, pretty maps and the rep swears it’s a good read, why should we as an agency spend time and money to see every OOH display on the buy?

Why you ask? Because it’s our job to ensure that we’re giving the client the best location available and the best read in the area. But even more importantly is to support the businesses in the area surrounding that OOH display that you’re trying to sell your client onto. It could be digital it could be static it could be a transit shelter it could be a TV screen inside an elevator. But it’s our duty after checking out that location to then walk around the area, see what commerce there is maybe buy lunch or even a Snickers bar. Buy some Lotto tickets check out who’s advertising on those screens at check out, ask the people who work in the area have they seen the display have they ever seen any ads on it and who do they remember. You’ll be doing your client a big favor if you report back above and beyond what photos and maps can show you. And who knows, you may pick up a new client who needs to be on those elevator screens but never knew who to contact.

And if you can’t do that as their media buyer then you’re only doing 75% of the job. Go the distance says the haunting voice in Field of Dreams. You can do it.

But let’s go one further. What about spending the weekend in that area visiting a few restaurants, maybe hitting a rodeo if you’re in Texas, really understanding who seeing those displays regardless of what format they are on that you were recommending. No photo or map can do that.

Take a bunch of photos using your smart phone, that way it’s recorded where the photo was taken as well as the date then share the photos with your client, share the photos on social media show our industry as well as the world that you’re going above and beyond normal media buying. Since 2012 I have over 5000 photographs on my iPhone from market rides and work events only. That doesn’t include all my kid and dog photos. No wonder I’ve been through over 10 phones since I began in OOH.

At times it sounds like “combat pay”. It is at first but then you realize what rich times we are really having doing our job. Not only are you trying to get to know the market but you want to know the people you’re working with that you might only see you once a year.

Honestly, I can’t count how many times I tried different foods late at night in a bunch of different markets in a bunch of different states, had wonderful conversations with our OOH reps, learned about their lives and their families their backgrounds, then promptly go back to my hotel room only to wake up at 3 AM believing my stomach was going to explode like the astronaut in Alien. How’s about the time we had a wonderful dinner for eight of us at a fabulous steak restaurant in Houston only to find out 2 days later that half the people that table were let go from the OOH company after years of service. Talk about The Last Supper. Maybe when they got that expense report. Life happens even on OOH market rides.

Or my two favorites, dinner again at another fabulous steakhouse, this time in Dallas, I think it was called Carmichaels, something in the drink I had gave me a sneezing fit so bad I had to excuse myself and hide out in a bathroom stall until it passed. Talk about freaking out the bathroom attendant. Or going to what was well known seafood house in Greenville, North Carolina. “Hey look, there’s one jumbo oyster left, Nick you take it”. Being the professional eater that I am I already had eaten one bad oyster but didn’t say anything and this last big glob was just winking at me so with six of Lamar’s finest cheering me on I happily took one for the team.

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And guess what? Sure enough it was as bad as the last one. Once again I sucked it up and sucked it down. Pass the Rolaids at 3:00am.

But once again the benefits outweigh the digestive distress. Each of these gatherings compare to a big family Thanksgiving dinner. Sharing work stories, family stories, having laughs and as we say blowing off some steam. All the while getting to know the market that you’re advertising on behalf of your client in. Imagine telling your client that their billboard that sits on that road that goes through the downtown is right up the street from a series of popular restaurants and bars with plenty of traffic and commerce and some great impressions all day and night, imagine discussing it with that same client all the other advertisers in that area, are their competitors there, or and imagine telling that same client you were there in person to see all this commerce going on around the board they’re advertising. then maybe invite them next time you ride that market so they can join you and your OOH reps.

Invaluable.

So as we come out of what was a debilitating and life changing pandemic with lowered budgets and far less travel, let’s try and remember what these pre-2020 days were like and start thinking about returning to them. I don’t mean eating bad oysters but rebuilding our relationships, getting out to see all that new DOOH inventory that’s popped up in the last two years, make sure those trees haven’t grown in front of all those posters on those country roads in North Carolina, and most importantly after a day or riding a market hit up The Big Texan off I-40 in Texas, grab a cold beer and cut into a 72 ounce manhandling steak. Medium rare of course. They even brew their own beer there. Finish that entire steak and you get it for free, but don’t forget you have to finish the salad, the shrimp cocktail, baked potato and the roll and butter that come with it. Then it’s free if you can live thru it.

What a great time to show your clients new inventory, new OOH products, maybe even new competitors they hadn’t thought about.

Just always keep in mind that market rides, walks, hikes, whatever, always end up being productive, there’s no substitute for them. Who knows, you might even see a rodeo, eat a few green oysters, buy some lotto tickets and try and polish off that old 96er.

That bad boy steak is still on my bucket list. I’ll get there.

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