Yes, I love what Radio Advertising can do for local businesses when it’s done right. But it’s important for ME and YOU to know the strengths and weaknesses of every ad medium. It’s important because what you’re trying to accomplish with your advertising might prove difficult with the use of some of them.

Today, let’s talk about billboards, bus benches, taxi cabs, city buses, etc.

Let’s start with Billboards. Here’s what NOT to do.  Don’t cram 35 words onto a sign where people only have time to read 8 words before they pass by! A billboard message should be short and to the point. Within 2 seconds of looking at your billboard, I better know exactly the point you’re trying to make. Give me a reason to consider doing business with YOU instead of someone else. Personally, I’d mostly use billboards to reinforce a TV or Radio campaign, like a support tool – if I had the budget to do so. Using billboards for branding is generally not a very efficient use of them.

If I owned a burger joint off an Interstate or major highway…I’d put a big billboard right before the exit.  “Hungry?  Exit Now.” Or something like, “Try the OINKER BURGER – the bacon is ground right in!” Get my point? Billboards should be super short…and very direct. I see hospitals, realtors, insurance companies, and banks trying to brand themselves with billboards (or what they THINK is branding). They’ll say something like, “We’re here for you” or “65 years of superior service.” Do you honestly believe those statements will motivate anyone to do business with them? Or cause people to REMEMBER them?

Bus benches and taxi cab advertising…or anything similar is just a smaller and cheaper form of billboard. And you can usually get some really good deals on multiple placements. But just like billboards…you have to be brief and impactful with your ad message. Tell me something that will stick.

The bad thing about outdoor advertising is that it takes MORE than 8 words to change perceptions about your industry or business. Outdoor advertising can be used as a “flash” reminder of your core Radio or TV message. And it can also be used effectively if you have almost zero competition. I see a lot of realtors and mortgage brokers advertising on bus benches. They usually have hundreds or even thousands of competitors in their city. But I don’t see them there very long before it’s another face giving that strategy a whirl.

Billboards have strengths…branding is not one of them. Awareness – yes. Branding – no. Just because someone is aware of your company, doesn’t mean they’ll do business with you. Brand yourself as something that people care about and can connect with – giving them a good reason to choose YOU versus your competition. Name recognition alone doesn’t cut it.

Those that have a billboard ad plan, usually have a big ad budget. They usually have enough to do TV, Radio, Magazines, Online, Direct Mail, AND Billboards. One or two billboards all by themselves usually yield disappointment.

If you’re going to have a billboard, make it stand out. Use words that “JOLT” us a little. Give us a good reason to remember you.

I’ve talked to a handful of small, local business owners who have advertised with billboards in the past. They did it for ONE year. ONE, not two. When we got down to the nitty gritty, most of them said, “I thought all I needed to do was get my name out there.” Getting your name out there doesn’t drive sales. I’m AWARE of a lot of businesses, but it doesn’t mean I’m “chomping at the bit” to buy from them.

If you have any questions about billboards, give me a shout. Or Radio. I know a little about Radio too. ; )

Have a great day!

Duane Christensen

Sioux Falls Radio Advertising blog

I work for Results Radio in Sioux Falls. I spend a lot of time thinking or researching and writing ads for my clients. Some days I’m in super-mental-creative mode. Other days, I struggle for a “spark”. But I am starting to think that Pop-Tarts and salted Almonds are good for creativity. You can find them in my “food drawer” at work if you need a quick snack.