What Graffiti Artists Don’t Know About Marketing

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I’m a runner. I don’t look it, but I am. I love to take an hour in the morning to clear my head and get some great exercise. Just this last year, I have noticed the divider between the running path and the road has been a magnet for graffiti. This morning I was thinking as I read a few of the comments that maybe these artistic statements aren’t being aimed at the right audience.

Most recently, the perpetrator of the graffiti has been a poet by the name of Dante. He writes political statements and verses of poetry, and within 3 days, it gets painted over. Aside from the temporary and vandalistic nature of the statements, is his intended audience runners?

Laser Target your Customer

As marketers, we severely need to know our audience and customer. Taking the shotgun approach doesn’t fly anymore as more and more noise is introduced, and tainted consumers tune out marketing messages.

Make no mistake, defining your audience takes research and work – it’s not easy. There is a bright side, however! Targeting a narrow segment of the population instead of the population in general is actually cheaper.

Imagine that you are a real estate company. You may lazily tell yourself that the entire city is your potential customer, and you’d be dead wrong.  Advertising to the entire city by way of billboards, television, and radio ads is very expensive. What you could do is find a publication or gathering of people who have declared themselves looking for a new home, a realtor, or looking to move. Although advertisement to these people may cost more per impression, it is putting yourself in front of your true potential customer, and the costs will be considerably less overall per acquisition.

Frequency & Consistency is Key

All marketers know that their potential customers won’t pay any attention to them until the customers have seen them several times (known as the ad frequency), and start to build a relationship with their brand. Dante’s audience is mostly runners, and he doesn’t message consistent themes. Once his message gets painted over, he writes something new and unrelated. Does Dante understand frequency and consistency of messaging?

Don’t make the same mistake that graffiti artists make, because after all, you’re a professional marketer, and they are not.


Micah Lauret

Great Post AJ. I think many of us turn out to be more of a graffiti artist rather than the marketing professional we’re supposed to be. Who is the messaging on our websites, ad copy, products, store fronts, etc. targeted to and is it an effective message for that group?

AJ Wilcox

Thanks for the comment, Micah! I definitely think that everyone can be a bit more diligent in targeting their ideal customer.

Chris Dayley

Awesome article and comparison AJ. One problem with your points though… Dante is getting advertising space for free 😛 If he were paying to send inconsistent messages to his audience then he would surely be a fool, but hey, if you could get space on Google for free to say whatever you wanted every day, why not. I agree with all your points though, just had to stick up for all the hard working graffiti artists our there. 😉

AJ Wilcox

@Chris – you have a point. For this one you have to consider a risk vs. reward aspect though. One of these days, Dante is going to be writing his poetry in notebooks from a cell in juvie 🙂 Pretty hard to prove an ROI though when you have no way of getting money from your advertising efforts. In any event, this is more of a comparison for professional marketers than it is a business case against graffiti.

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