3 Business Marketing Lessons Based on Raleigh’s Street Murals

Raleigh is adding a lot of new street art lately. Like many cities, Raleigh has begun to add more murals on its building walls in an effort known as #makeraleighcolorful. The city also hired artists to paint metal utility boxes around town, often with local themes such as the Oak City Kitty, which decorates the box near our marketing office. (Our building is also home to a unique augmented reality mural!) 

A mural painted on one of the city’s utility boxes.

I am recently back from a trip to South America as well, and it’s always fun to see what other cities do to attract visitors and businesses. This got me thinking about the way we market our cities similarly to how we sell our businesses. Here are a few business marketing lessons based on what cities are doing: 

  1. Be Insta-worthy. Art is one way for a city to express itself. Whether your take is that Raleigh is just doing it to be one of the cool kids or actually embracing the local artistic culture is up to you. But the point is someone feels it will help the city stand out and add color to our streets. Color is undoubtedly an attraction; people photograph the colorful buildings in the La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires and the streets of New Orleans. All this is Instagrammable. Businesses that provide services face a challenge with this, but if you can find ways to work fantastic visuals into your marketing, it makes a difference. 
  2. Be aware of your competition. Raleigh is forever competing with Charlotte, but we’re also often compared to Durham. Charlotte’s “got a lot” as their tagline boasts. Residents in Texas want to “keep Austin weird.” Durham is covered in murals, as is Chapel Hill. So in a sense, our art scene is merely keeping up with the Joneses. While irritating to some, it is critical to know what your business competitors are doing. (Of course, as we wrote here, you also want to find ways to stand apart.)  
  3. Make it easy. One intriguing thing about some projects in Raleigh is the challenge to get these projects going. Raleigh’s customers, its residents, had to jump through many hoops to get crosswalks painted into fun designs on Glenwood Avenue downtown in 2015. Since then, we seem to have more momentum for this type of thing, meaning it’s easier to get approval. Two lessons from this: First, if you’re doing something new and unique, don’t expect it to come easily. But second, make it easy for your customers to suggest ideas for your services, products, or even your marketing. Customers are often smarter than we are because they are the ones using the product or service. Ask them for insights: what do they love? What do they hate? Most importantly, what can you do to improve things?   

These are just a few thoughts as I wander around Raleigh and ponder marketing. Is the new art on our streets sparking ideas for your business? 

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