I know the focus and precision of targeted advertising on social media.
I love some of the high impact, big graphic, quality audio of broadcast ads.
And as someone who spent many a year fighting to keep advertisers in newspapers – and sometimes rejecting a few as well – I still believe in the enduring power of print.
But sometimes you don’t need anything extravagant or expensive to get your message across. Sometimes you just need a good idea.
My village is like many others across Cumbria and rural Britain. It’s a beautiful, welcoming place but like so many in recent years it has struggled to retain facilities for its residents.
One of its two hostelries closed its doors several years back and has been turned into housing. The second – The Duke – looked like it may be going the same way but thankfully has had something of a resurgence.
The village shop – a tiny Aladdin’s cave of non-perishables, newspapers and gossip – came to an end with the sad passing of its owner.
The primary school is still the centre of village life but numbers fluctuate and budgets get squeezed. You know how it is.
We’re also blessed with our wonderful village hall – The Watson Institute – home to Pilates, indoor bowls, parish council meetings – and all the myriad of groups that would otherwise be homeless without its welcoming warmth, varnished floor and solid walls.
And that’s where the advertising comes in. I’m not sure there’s ever been a full on post office in the village, but a service used to operate out of the pub until that too looked like it would come to an end.
But villagers in the north west fringes of England are hardy folk. They have to be. They fight for what they have, they overturn obstacles, they do things for themselves.
I don’t know the details of how the Post Office counter has come to be taking over a corner of the Watson Institute every Tuesday afternoon. I do know there was quite a bit of gnashing of teeth about red tape and technical difficulties before it happened. But come Tuesday afternoon there it is. 12 until 3, young chap called Harry mainly.
For those without transport it’s a welcome service, as otherwise it’s a four mile trip to the nearest town. But given its limited hours and tucked away position, it’s not the most well-known service.
Which brings me to the picture accompanying these words. Facebook, the village newsletter, word of mouth, they all have their part to play in letting people know what’s going on.
But if you want to advertise a facility in style, how about a bit of a tribute to WH Auden and his much-admired Night Mail.
The revamped Castle Carrock version is tacked to a post at one end of a trail that leads around the reservoir. It’s a popular hike for locals and visitors alike, and so is in a prime position.
I know the author, I can tell him by his trademark laminating skills.
“Post Office, every Tuesday afternoon, Watson Institute, Use it or Lose it“ might well have conveyed a similar message in more conventional form.
But it seems somehow in keeping with the village – home of Music on the Marr, an eclectic and much-loved music and arts festival – that verse does the advertising.
It’s a gently smiling nudge in the ribs about what is here and what may not be here without support.