4 min read

Billboards: The Great Small Business Growth Hack

Billboards are an underrated way to grow sales, and the investment could be getting even better. It’s time to dig deeper into billboards.
Billboards: The Great Small Business Growth Hack

Billboards are underappreciated.

It’s funny how we all drive and walk by billboards all the time, yet rarely consider one for our own business. While you might not have considered advertising your business using a billboard, maybe you should.

In this post I’ll explore reasons why billboards are underrated marketing tools and might be a great idea for your business.

Billboards Are Underrated Marketing Tools

I’ve posted about overlooked and free marketing assets that are right in front of small businesses owners noses. Twice actually if you include neighborhood marketing. In these posts, I mentioned an eye-opening statistic:

“On average, customers within a 10-minute drive of a small business make up 80% of its customer base.”

This highlights why the space inside your premises and around your neighborhood are vital to advertising your business effectively. Billboards are the same, just outside of your premises and on someone else’s property.

But, think about it:

  • Have you considered using a billboard to advertise your business?
  • How many times have you spoken about billboards with other business owners?
  • How many business consultants and online gurus talk about billboards?

I bet for 99% of business owners your answers were never.

That’s why billboards might be a great idea for your small business. Because very few people consider them, so the demand is lower and prices are likely to be lower too. Yet for the right business, billboards are highly effective (we’ll get into that). So this combination of lower cost and high effectiveness creates the potential for a high return on investment marketing initiative.

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Why Billboard Might Be a Great Idea for Your Business

Let’s dig deeper into some of the arguments for why billboards might generate a good return on your investment. It comes down to the a reasonable and declining costs and the same benefits as always:

  • Downward cost pressure: Business owners and corporations are moving their marketing spend away from physical properties like phone books (remember that?), sponsorships, signs and billboards. It’s moving towards digital channels like search and social ads. This means less competition, and fewer dollars chasing physical properties. That should make the cost better for business owners considering these marketing opportunities. Plus, I don’t think they were that expensive in the first place.
  • Lower cost is not related to effectiveness: I think billboards are an overlooked marketing asset. Yet they are still just effective as they were in the past. You might even argue that because so much attention has gone online, they are a bit different now and stand out even more. There’s no reason they’re not just as effective as in the past. Attention moving online does not make billboards any less effective, people are still moving around cities, towns and communities and their eyes will still be drawn to billboards.
  • A local marketing monopoly: If you have a billboard, by definition, no one else can have it too. Unlike digital marketing space, which is unlimited, your exact billboard cannot be replicated. The right billboard represents a prime real estate opportunity that you can own, to dominate mindshare in your local market. If you have it, your competitors don’t. The local population will see it frequently, and you will own a spot in your mind. When the time comes to consider the products or services you offer, they are more likely to think of your business first.

This all means billboards can make for a good investment. They have been around for a long time, which shows that they have always generated a reasonable return on investment. As you can see, that proposition might have improved over the last few years.

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How to Set-up Your Billboard

Here’s how to find and set-up a billboard in your local area:

  1. Identify the location and billboard space: I recommend going out in your local area and personally selecting billboards or sites for your billboard based on your knowledge of your customers.
  2. Negotiate to buy or lease the billboard site: Contact representative for the existing billboard (they should have a logo on the billboard) or premises with free space. Negotiate the terms of the lease of sale to acquire the rights to use the billboard.
  3. Design your billboard: This will differ greatly by business and market, but here are some tips: (1) make the information on the billboard visible by using large and readable fonts, (2) write short messages, (3) keep the images on the billboard clear and relevant, and (4) avoid boring advertisements.

Time to get to it!

Final Thoughts

I hope the arguments presented here for considering billboards in your marketing mix stand up for your business and your local market. But before I finish this post I also wanted to present a less logical argument.

When I think of the idea of having a billboard in my neighborhood, that is permanently advertising my business, I think: “How cool!”

It’s something to be proud of and position you in the community. Something for your family and friends to drive by and think fondly of you. Something to point out to your kids or grandkids with pride as you pass by.

As all small business owners know, sometimes it’s the joy we get out of operating a local business that keeps us going. May as well put your own stake in the ground in your local community.

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