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I got home from work today to find that the top story on the Redlands Daily Facts was about a sign being approved by the City Council. Aside from the problem with this being the biggest news story of the day (not sure if our city is that boring or if the Facts is that bored), I had some issues with this as a marketer.

First, the sign is seems pretty large by the measurements given in the article.  I’m no expert on that, but the size was part of the debate for the council, so I’m guessing there was something abnormal (for Redlands) about the size.  There was concern from one council member about it distorting or blocking the view of the mountains (normally hidden in smoggy haze anyway, but the principle is still sound).  The sign was approved and it’ll be in place sometime after today, I’m sure.  Many businesses, presumably near the base of the sign, will be advertised to driver’s on the 10 Freeway so that those drivers busy getting somewhere will know there are places to spend money should they pass by during a less personally busy time in their lives.

And that’s my problem.  This is crappy marketing.  Sure, signs are helpful.  But now the press for this sign is that it takes away from an otherwise scenic (maybe) view so that businesses already in a poor location can be known.  They’ve sort of thumbed their nose at the community that, wait for it, are probably their most likely customers.  And this is supposed to increase business?  Why not have the story that they opted to not put up the big sign in order to preserve the community?  Much better press.  Just doesn’t last as long as the sign, and that’s the real problem.

Both of these stories would be gone in a day (probably).  A sign stays there in your face for much longer.  It’s much harder to make another story for day two and another for day three and on and on to get the attention you business (hopefully) deserves.  The other side of the coin that these folks seemed to have missed (so far) is that the sign will fade as well into the background radiation of what passes by when we drive on the freeway until it’s just something that blocks the things that used to be there that were usually hidden in haze, but it was nice to see them when the haze was gone.

I read the article 20 minutes ago.  I’ve already forgotten which businesses were listed for the sign.  But I’ll remember the article when I see the sign for the first time and think, “A little effort and they could have done so much better and left a nice view for people to enjoy.”