An image of a urinal in a e marketing office in St. Louis

I stumbled across this question on an online marketing forum recently: “Anyone tried public toilet advertising? What was the output?”

Eleven people responded. Half offered good “output” jokes.

Example: “(The output was) piss poor.”

Others offered serious, earnest responses...

“We did public toilet advertising ... and it was amazingly successful.”

“Personally I think it is a good idea because when you’re on the toilet you’re either looking at the back of the door or your phone.”

“Advertising on toilets is probably only good for brand recognition.”

My take on all of this: Crappy question. BS responses.

I can’t answer the question without knowing more.

What do you sell? To whom do you sell it? What are your key marketing messages? What is your goal for the marketing campaign?

Without answers to those questions, don’t tell me toilet advertising works (or doesn’t). You’re full of it if you try.

Same goes for this question: “Does social media work?”

Or this one… “Is direct mail dead?”

Or this one… “My buddy said he’s killing it with Valpak coupons. Should I try that?”

Public toilets, social media, billboards, Valpak, email, telemarketing, broadcast advertising... They’re all tools to deliver your message.

Do they work? It depends on you, your business and your marketing strategy.

Marketing is a three-legged stool.

The first leg: Your market. Whom are you trying to reach? Where do they reside? Are they active on Facebook? Do they listen to the radio station that’s asking you to advertise? Do they hang out in the restaurants and bars that will hang your ad in their toilets?

The second leg: Your message. What will you say that resonates with your target market?

The third leg: Media. What channel(s) will be most effective for delivering that message to that market?

You can’t choose media without knowing your market or message. Put another way, a certain channel won’t work unless you match it properly to your target market and you deliver the right message.

That’s true for toilet advertising, and it’s true for social media, email and all the other channels you might consider.

This post first appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly for which MarketVolt President Tom Ruwitch writes a monthly column called "High Voltage Marketing." 

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