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Local Advertising Connects With Customers Using Inside Jokes Consider 'out-of-home' ads to connect with locals.

By John Patrick Pullen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The Bank of Ann Arbor doesn't necessarily want you as a customer. It doesn't want patrons from random towns, in arbitrary states. Locally owned and operated, the Michigan-based bank, founded in 1995, has always had the goal of dominating in its own backyard. Over the last two years, through a series of billboards featuring inside jokes targeted at locals, it has begun to do just that.

Each billboard starts with the words "Non-local banks think" and ends with a wisecrack, such as "Mani Osteria plays for the Tigers" (it's actually a popular restaurant) or "the Jerk Pit is a singles bar" (it's a Jamaican food joint). Many punch lines were crowdsourced during a seven-week Facebook campaign that drew 700 submissions.

But as inspired as the social media tactic was in terms of driving engagement, the idea to display the results roadside is what really helped the bank lure new customers. "Entrepreneurs who take bold risks with their creative campaigns find that outdoor advertising is actually one of the best options to increase local brand awareness and competitive advantage," says Bank of Ann Arbor president and CEO Tim Marshall.