Outdoor Rules!

March 28, 2017

by Lance Parman

It’s a digital world. Customers increasingly have their eyes down and are engrossed in their devices. But don’t think for a moment that billboard advertising is not relevant.

Billboards still have a captive audience. American’s spend a significant amount of time each day behind the wheel. Outdoor advertising remains one of the great mass media advertising channels that has the power to make a real impact on your customer. But as competition increases and attention spans diminish, it’s important to be smart. Outdoor still rules, provided you follow a few simple rules.

1. Less is More

The one thing outdoor advertising does not afford is time. At 70 mph, the average consumer has approximately six seconds to read your message, which translates into six to eight words. I know there are a lot of things you WANT your customer to know about your brand, but you’ve got to pick one and keep the message simple. Too much information and you’ll only end up with a billboard that is overwhelming and won’t be read. That goes for design too. Avoid complicated layouts and busy photos. Keep it simple.

2. Leave an Impression, Not a Call-To-Action

Let’s be honest. Phone numbers and website addresses have no place on your billboard. If you believe that information will be written down while your customer is driving down the highway—or even remembered by the time they reach their destination—you’re not being realistic. Billboards play an important supporting role to your other advertising like television, direct mail, and digital. Use it to make a memorable impression about your brand. If it accomplishes that objective, your customer will be more than capable of a quick Google search to find your phone number and anything else they need to know.

3. Own it

The most common mistake in marketing is trying to spread too little butter over too much toast. The result? Dry, flavorless toast. While a diverse marketing strategy is effective, it’s important to spend enough in each media channel to be effective. One billboard rarely makes outdoor advertising as effective as it can be. An important rule of thumb: When you choose a particular media channel, make sure you invest enough to own that channel. If you’re going to use outdoor to make a strong impression and cut through the clutter, place several billboards around town that will be seen over and over by your customer. Buttery toast is always better than dry.

4. Go Big

There’s nothing more frustrating than only having enough time to read half the headline before it’s gone. Or seeing an interesting billboard, but not being able to identify whose it is. Long headlines, fancy fonts that are difficult to read, and tiny logos can make your billboard go from effective to infuriating faster than oncoming traffic. Keep the design clean and uncluttered by making sure it’s readable at a glance. A good rule of thumb…don’t look at your billboard design on your computer screen. Instead, print it on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper, then tape it to a wall and look at it from across the room. If you have trouble seeing it, so will your customers.

5. The Water Cooler Test

For every one amazing billboard, there are at least a dozen that are boring and forgettable. Outdoor advertising is your opportunity to have fun, be creative, and deliver your message in a unique and memorable way. The goal of every billboard should be the water cooler test. Will your message be remembered and talked about? Having someone say, "Did you see that new billboard by the mall?" is the highest achievement. That requires a simple message delivered in a truly unique way. But be careful not to go overboard. If your message requires a graduate degree to figure out, it's too complex.

If you’d like to talk with Gazillion & One about making the most of your marketing efforts, contact us online or call (616) 842-7000 to get the conversation started.

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