Even as blogs, video, audio, memes, and gifs penetrate the public consciousness via personalized mobile phone ubiquity, companies and organizations still pay a premium for physical billboards alongside our national highways and roads.

Why is this?

Well, part of the the reason was revealed through a statement that a former CEO of Mercedes Benz made at one point many years ago: “If I wanted to sell you a Mercedes, I couldn’t do it by blasting you with an advertisement two days before you wanted to buy one. I have to advertising Mercedes to you from the day that you were born until the day you decide to buy one.”

In other words, billboards, television commercials, and newspaper ads (even in an age of declining readership and growing lack of interest in written advertising copy) still matter, because they serve as a “top-of-the-mind” way to get attention for, and place (or anchor) a,  product, service, or process in a potential customer’s mind.

All these forms of advertisement are about increasing the consumer attention in a product, service, or process intentionally. In the same vein, intentionality should be the watchword of any effort, training program, or even new discipline that any person–or organization–embarks on towards change.

Think about it: Without “top-of-the-mind” intentionality to change, without support and encouragement from others, and without feedback that is appropriate, well-timed, and relevant, all the classes, training programs, and efforts that organizations undertake to develop employees, supervisors, or managers, fall on fallow ground.

Intentionality is at the core of follow-up. It’s at the core of how training is designed. It’s even at the core of how people are engaged in a face-to-face training situation.

Intentionality is often avoided, discounted, or not considered, because there are assumptions organizations and individuals make, about the motives of people who assume authoritarian positions, heavy with positional power. People in those positions are assumed to have good intentions; but good intentions do not equate to following through intentionally with new information, approaches, and philosophies that much of training will stir up.

And then there are the situations where what’s ““top-of-the-mind” for the supervisor may not be what’s “top-of-the-mind” for the supervisee. This disconnect happens more often that you would imagine in organizations. And the commitment to actually, meaningfully, changing organizational culture dies in the ditch of the gap between a supervisor’s “top-of-the-mind” and a supervisee’s “top-of-the-mind.”

The digital billboards in Times Square cost around $3.5 million per month per billboard to rent for a promotional message. That’s a lot of money to get the valuable attention of 8 million people, the vast majority of whom are now captivated by personalized digital experiences.

But organizations still look at advertising via billboard in Times Square as a sunk cost. They value the “top-of-the-mind” placement in Time Square more than they value the money they spend, and they are intentional about the advertisements they create and run.

Imagine the organizational outcomes if, for $300,000 worth of organizational training, organizations were as intentional about following up with that spend as they are with advertising a product for one month.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
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