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What can Chick-Fil-A teach you about Outdoor Advertising?

February 15, 2010

Kind of like the place kicker on a football team, outdoor advertising doesn’t get nearly enough credit.  They’re on 24/7, have an extremely low CPM (cost per thousand) and, most importantly these days, they can’t get clicked through, turned off, fast forwarded, or deleted. Outdoor advertising is an important part of a successful advertising campaign.

Lamar Outdoor

Of the two outdoor billboard campaigns that have caught my attention lately, one is from out-of-home advertising giant Lamar Outdoor. I guess that means they’re good at what they do.  Lately, Lamar has been using simple, solid, bright color billboards with phrases on them like “Use your Outdoor Voice” written in tall, white, block letters. Just the basics. But they get results.

Chick-Fil-A … Eat Mor Chikin!

The campaign that has caught my attention for some time since I moved to Memphis, TN in Summer 2007, has been from Chick-Fil-A. If you’ve passed through the Mid-South (or anywhere there’s a Chick-Fil-A) then you’ve undoubtedly seen a billboard like the one pictured to the left. They feature nothing more than a short, misspelled phrase, usually “Eat Mor Chikin”, and a couple of three-dimensional cows standing on the ledge which appear to me painting the signs.  Simple, yet very effective. Maybe that’s why the campaign has been around since 1995!

Here are 5 reasons why Chick-Fil-A’s outdoor campaign has had some success. Apply them as you plan your next out-of-home campaign.

Clean and Simple – Just about every billboard in the campaign is solid white a short phrase in big, black letters. The Chick-Fil-A logo is also prominent in the center of the billboard. Viewers only have a few seconds to read and digest the meaning of your billboard. The rule of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid.) applies here. Don’t try to get too creative.

Clever Theme –What’s more funny than two cows with poor grammar skills tell you to eat chicken instead of beef?  The whole idea is to remind the viewer that there’s something out there besides the same meal at the same burger joint every day for lunch.  Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s can’t beat it. I wouldn’t try the same theme for your business. Instead, figure out what’s at the core of your brand. Or, what’s at the core of what will get your brand to where you want it to be. Run with it.

Change of Pace – Chick-Fil-A’s billboard’s don’t say “Eat Mor Chikin” for long. They constantly change up the phrases. The cows are always changing too…during football season they wear helmets and jerseys. At Christmas, they might look like reindeer. Keeping the customer guessing makes the billboard’s more interactive. I always look for the billboard in my area to see what they’ve come up with next. That keeps Chick-Fil-A top of mind. The latest round of billboards feature bright yellow swipes of paint meant to look like the sunrise because Chick-Fil-A is pushing their new breakfast menu. The bright yellow is a change from the usual white and it sticks out from the norm in viewers brains. Don’t be afraid to switch things up on your own billboards. You may not have the budget for cow-zised football jerseys but you can always make a change every now and then. Don’t let your sign get stale.

Consistent Placement – The campaign has been running for 15 years! That’s pretty consistent if you ask me. Just as important as a consistent brand message is consistent location. As I said, I’m always looking for the Chick-Fil-A signs little changes because I know where to look. If I didn’t know the signs were going to be there, they wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Do some research, find a great location for your next outdoor campaign and start something big!

Call to Action – It’s fairly subtle. The goal in all of Chick-Fil-A’s advertising is to create consideration for chicken instead of the usual burger and fries when viewers are thinking food. By always saying “Hey, what about chicken?” they’re always top of mind. Always have a call to action in your outdoor advertising. Even if it is as simple as your website address. You’ve gained the viewers interest. Tell them what to do next!

Follow these simple steps and you should have some success with your outdoor advertising. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Credit:


Business Advice in Three Words (A Post from

February 9, 2010

I follow a great business blog called Quick Sprout. Author Neil Patel regularly comes to the table with a fresh perspective on the world of business.

Today I read his post Business Advice in Three Words. It’s a great list of simple business advice and encouragement spelled out in three word phrases.

Since the whole point is to keep it simple, I’ll let you follow the link and see the list. (Business Advice in Three Words)

I’ve added a few of my own in the comments there as well as on this post. Share your three words of advice on Neil’s blog as well!

Love your job

Respect the competition

Write that down

Volunteer your time

Always give credit

Make hard decisions

Accept a challenge

Don’t over commit

Don’t under estimate

Control the controllables

Always be changing

Don’t get comfortable

Use Plan B

Are you recruiting? Or simply hiring?

January 31, 2010

How can you tell? Why should you care? In a post titled The Difference Between Hiring and Recruiting, Seth Godin describes the differences…

“Hiring is what you do when you let the world know that you’re accepting applications from people looking for a job.

Recruiting is the act of finding the very best person for a job and persuading them to stop doing what they’re doing and come join you.

Hiring is easy and fast and is basically a retail operation.

Recruiting is artful and slow and is essentially a direct marketing effort.”

He’s dead on.

I’ve been thinking about this statement a lot over the past few months. You see, in the retail automotive business, turnover and hiring are a way of life. Many dealer’s hiring strategies are a result of the “golden days” when salesman were lining up for the chance to sell cars and make money. They simply throw an add in the classifieds, hire ten new salesman, hope two or three of them stick around and repeat once a month. As Seth says, a retail operation.

This approach needs to change if today’s dealerships are going to be successful.

Having this conversation with dealership management over the past few months, I get asked the same questions… “How can I get more applicants?”, “How can I get quality applicants?”, “Where are all of these unemployed people looking for a job?”, “Where do I get more productive sales people?” You get the idea. They’re all looking for more quality applicants but most don’t know where to look or how to approach them beyond the only thing they know.

So, what approach should dealers take towards recruiting?

Seek Them Out. You must go to where the quality job seekers go. If you put your ad in the classified section, you’ll get classified ad results. Recruiting takes effort but the results you get will make it worth the time and money you’ve invested.

  • College Career Fairs – If you’re looking for talented, energetic, new blood that is eager to learn and show off their talents you should be investing in career fairs, specifically the ones aimed at colleges.
  • Online Advertisments – Post ads on the usual job sites (Careerbuilder, Monster, etc.)
  • LinkedIn – I posted this separate from the other job sites because there is so much more to it. The talent is better too. Think about it, if someone is taking the time and effort to create an online resume profile, they’re going to be a much better worker than someone who just jumps at a classified ad hoping to make some fast cash with little effort. Visit LinkedIn and learn more about job postings.
  • Facebook – Aside from LinkedIn, which you should also use to network and find quality applicants, you should look into a Careers Page on Facebook. It’s a great way to let your employees share how much they love working for you as well as to let job seekers stay in the loop with your company and available opportunities. Ford Motor Company has a great example HERE.

Send the Right Message. An ad that says little more about the position than “Commission Pay, Flexible Hours, Signing Bonus” is elusive and misleading. If a job seeker sets expectations based on the message you are sending about the ad, he will soon be disappointed when he finds the position is not that at all. In the car business, that issue is usually the long hours which are anything but “flexible”. Take the time to lay out a full job description and make it available in the areas I mentioned above. You may get a few less leads, but the ones you get will be higher quality. And that is the point.

Use Your Employees. Nothing says more about the working environment you provide than the people who work there. Involve your employees in the efforts above. Bring them to Career Fairs, let them be a part of the discussion and write about your company on Facebook and LinkedIn. If they’re happy, let them describe why they work for you. Let the tell why they love their jobs. Everyone from the janitor to the General Manager. Get it on video. One of my dealers, Nelson Mazda in Nashville, TN produced this video with employee testimonials about their dealership. It not only sells the way they do business, but that the employees truly love where they work. Your employees are your business, let them show it off.

These are a few steps in the right direction, but by no means the way to recruit better employees. Have a different idea? Leave a comment below.

Customer Loyalty Programs

January 17, 2010

Thank YouLast weekend, my wife and I decided to hit up our local Smoothie King ( after a run. We had a coupon, which is usually the case, for a buy one, get one deal. We arrived and it was Happy Hour from around 1-4pm so they said they didn’t accept the coupon. Okay, getting the Happy Hour deal was better, no worries there, I’ll use it next time.

However, upon paying for our smoothies, as I went to hand my loyalty punch card to the cashier, I was told that they do not stamp loyalty cards during Happy Hour. I think this sends the wrong message and, instead, sends one that is the complete opposite of the program’s intent.

A loyalty program is really about making your customers feel appreciated. The intent is to reward customers for being loyal and supporting your business through consistently buying your good or service. It should count during all hours of everyday. A loyal customer is too valuable to nickel and dime with policies such as this one.

Saying “We don’t punch cards when you come at Happy Hour” tells the customer “You’re not worth any more to my business than the guy that just came in for the first time.”  That’s simply not true. A loyal customer is much more important. A loyal customer is not only consistent business, they are walking, talking, tweeting, advocates for your business. If, you treat them right.

I ended up posting my story and suggestions on Smoothie King’s Facebook Fan Page (  I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d get a response. However, within a couple of days, I received a Facebook message from Bobby Williams, VP of Marketing at Smoothie King.  He thanked me for my loyalty and suggestions and threw a few free smoothie cards my way as well.  This part of my experience impressed me. (No, not the free smoothies.) The fact that Smoothie King is utilizing Facebook and listening to their customers means they understand how important they are. Whether or not the particular franchise changes their policy, I’m happy to be heard.

Consider your own loyalty programs and policies. Do you have any? It doesn’t have to be something as structured as a punch card or points program.

It should absolutely include the way you listen to and respond to your customers.

Bring It, 2010.

January 16, 2010

Bring It, 2010The worst year many of us have seen (particularly those of us in the Auto Industry) is history. While it is important to look at the outcomes of the year and find things to correct in the future, this time, it’s just as important to forget about 2009. It’s over. Don’t bring any of the negativity into January. Don’t bring it into 2010.  Accomplishing goals only happens with a positive mindset. It’s getting better. Businesses in every industry are improving. Confidence in the economy is rising every day.  Try a new approach in 2010. Set goals, push back and make them happen.

So, speaking of goals…what are yours? It’s a new year. Perfect time to clean the slate and set some.  I like goals instead of resolutions. Instead of throwing out some random idea because everyone else is, goal setting is the framework to achieving and improving in a specific area of your life, career, business, etc.

I took some time in the past couple weeks to put together my a GoalBox for 2010 (Idea Courtesy of Chris Brogan – It’s a simple Google Doc spreadsheet which lists my goals downward and each month of the year across the top. My GoalBox has career goals, personal development goals, fitness goals, charitable goals and a few others. Yours may be entirely different. As long as you keep them in front of you throughout the year and use the goals as a legitimate measurement tool, you’ll succeed. Don’t just make it a one time  task and forget it. Live by it.

One of my personal development goals is actually this blog. Since I started it nearly a year ago, I haven’t been consistent with my posts. When I started my new job with Mazda in the spring, I kind of gave up on it and haven’t posted since June!  This is officially the “relaunch”. My goal is to increase the number of posts I make each month. Once I’ve established consistency, I’ll decide where I want to go next. So, if you don’t see me posting for a while, get after me about it (@bencoy).

My philosophy for 2010 is to focus on the positives, be thankful and work hard at improving myself. Take the negativity head on. Bring it, 2010. I’m ready.


June 11, 2009

If you’re planning to accomplish or learn anything there are always six questions you have to ask yourself at the outset – “Who?”, “What?”, “When?”, “Where?”, “Why?” … and “How?”  Despite what Nike says, you can’t “just do it” and get it right.  You have to have goals and a vision to implement and get to where you want to be.  The first five questions are easy…it’s “How?” that will get in your way.  I heard this statement in a sermon at church the other day.  I think it applies to pretty much everything in life:

“How?” is the question that kills visions and dreams.

“How?” produces fear instead of faith.

“How?” is the question that always produces excuses.

See, it’s easy to envision success, committment, goals, etc…your ultimate idea of what you want to do or where you want to be.  The trouble comes when you ask yourself “How?” because that holds you accountable to stop planning and start implementing.  It also allows you to convince yourself that something’s not possible or that you’re not quite good enough to pull it off.

You can’t ignore “How?” because then you’re just stuck with plans.  You can’t concentrate too much on “How?” because then you’ll never take the necessary risks to make it reality.

You already know what you want to do, who can help you do it, where you’ll be able to do it, when you want to accomplish it and why it should happen.  If you’re still wondering how you can possibly make it realityStop doubting and start doing.  You already know the answer. Go make it happen.


New Job!

April 17, 2009


I have some great news to share! Starting Monday, I will begin my new career with Mazda North American Operations (MNAO)! I accepted my offer on Wednesday afternoon to take over as District Manager for the Memphis District. The job is pretty much the same as I held with Ford except that I will be covering a larger geographic area (Memphis, Little Rock, Nashville, Jackson) but a smaller number of dealerships (11 vs. 14). I will report to the Gulf Regional Office in Houston, TX but we will be staying put here in Memphis!

Staying in Memphis and landing the job with Mazda is definitely a win-win for us. I was in talks with Mazda for the same job in a different district (Coastal Carolinas) back in October but the company realigned districts and eliminated the position. I was pretty excited about the opportunity back then but it wasn’t the best timing to move. Staying in Memphis allows Jackie to finish school here at the University of Memphis. For those who don’t know she’s working on her Master’s in Education and has another year left in the program. I think she was tired of going to class and being my sugar momma while I was unemployed so she’s probably more excited about me going back to work than I am.

I’m very excited about Mazda and the opportunities both for my career (MNAO has just 600 employees in the U.S.) and for the company. Mazda is lean and profitable. They have a great niche market and are continuing to to define the “emotion of motion”. There are plenty of great product releases at the moment with new Mazda6 and Mazda3 being the latest! There are great new refreshes to the CX-7 and CX-9 (Motor Trend SUV of the Year in ’08) crossovers coming soon as well. More news to fill your inboxes after I start.

Oh, and I just found out that our Region Meetings next week with have a sports theme – so needless to say, I will be rocking the Team Coy Detroit Tigers jersey on MLB day!


I wanted to take a second and say “Thanks!” to everyone for your support, help, job searching, words of wisdom, letters of recommendation and referrals, etc during my job search! It was a struggle, but I learned a lot and I think I will be a better person and better in my career because of it.

The biggest thanks goes to my wife, Jackie. Thanks for putting up with me and all the stresses that came with the unemployment and thanks for being supportive and pushing me everyday! You’re the best!


Thanks for all the input on the website – especially Doug Peterson. It was a huge help! Just wanted to let you all know that I will be moving the url ( to this blog soon. It will continue to be mostly business, marketing, automotive, motivational so that I can use it in my job.  Feel free to subscribe and follow it if you’d like. The blog is currently at