Billboards: Use them PROPERLY

Bad Billboard
Example of a bad billboard

Being a “radio guy” people find it shocking that I am a proponent of Billboards. Keep in mind that “billboards” come in all shapes and sizes and are not ALWAYS your traditional sign on the side of the roads.

We have what I call “Moving Billboards” at the radio station which are simply our window clings that feature the station logo and the logo of our morning show.  VERY SIMPLE design (more on that later).  We award prizes from time to time to individuals that are driving around with our logo displayed on their vehicle as they drive around from location to location.

We also use the station van, which has a very large station logo painted on the side as well as the logo of our morning show.  Station staff drive the vans to high traffic locations and they are parked so they can be seen by the eyeballs that are commuting around town. Again, it is simply a large red van that has the huge station logo and morning show logo painted on the sides.

The concept behind the two examples of our “moving billboards” is that people that see them are in their vehicle, which has a RADIO in it and we hope that if they are not currently a listener of the station, seeing the station logo that prominently features the station frequency, they might tune in.  It’s up to the air staff and the Program Director to ensure that the music balance and the content between the songs come together to offer the listener a better form of entertainment than what they WERE listening to.

One of my clients happens to be Henry Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  They have been consistently using radio to direct listeners to their website where they use the content on the site to inform the listener about what it is that they have to offer.  This allows Henry BJJ  to keep their message on the radio simple while directing listeners to the website that has plenty of videos and photos that you cannot fit into a sixty-second commercial.  They are combining their marketing mediums to focus on the main goal: increase enrollment.

When they mentioned to me that they were going to spend money on coming up with bumper stickers to promote the school,  I thought this was a great idea.  Bumper stickers do not cost that much money to make, and as long as the message is simple, you have the ability to see a big return on your investment for the money you are spending for them, as long as you get them on vehicles.   I  came up with a few slogans to use on the bumper sticker, along with the idea of using the bumper sticker to drive people to their website.  No phone number.  No physical address.  If spending $100 on bumper stickers drives that ONE person to the website to sign up for training and they continue to train, that is a HUGE return on investment.

Henry BJJ Sticker 2

Now we have all been exposed to countless billboards as we drive down the roads and highways.  Since I’m in marketing I see the billboards with a different eye.  The business HAS a goal but there are some billboards that I have seen that I have NO IDEA as to what the BUSINESS is.

The BILLBOARD is not an ad in the newspaper.  Vehicles are going by at 50 mph so your message has to be clear and to the point:  “KIDS EAT FREE” with the LARGE logo of the restaurant.  Busy billboards with a lot of text, text that is hard to read due to font size, or just have TOO MUCH text only achieve one thing: Losing the message for the business.

I’ve seen plenty of billboards that have A LOT of wasted space that could have been used to make the advertiser’s logo LARGER so it can be seen for a greater period of time or just easier to be read.   Billboards that have too much information on them and are just busy with their overall design only waste the hard earned marketing dollars of that business.

 There have been sever billboards that I have seen where I had to make it a point to drive by them AGAIN at a slower speed to see who was actually advertising on the billboard.  Have you seen billboards like this before?

That’s why I’m a huge fan of using radio to promote your business.  Not just because I am a radio guy, but because of the fact that not only can you reach potential customers that are in their vehicles, but your message is traveling with them.  The message isn’t lost on them because they drove by too fast, or they turned before they were to come upon your billboard’s location.  Plus you can work with your account executive to work on a specific campaign for your message.  After all, you are still paying for the billboard when nobody is driving by, or when it is not lit up.

Again, billboards are not a bad form of advertising, but you need to simplify the message, the design, and work with a company that will ensure your message will be lit up and not blocked by trees.

My radio station has used billboards in the past, but they had ONE message: A Reason to Tune in.  



So if your heart is set on using billboards, keep them simple.

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