Sit back. Close your eyes. And, let’s take a minute to imagine a better billboard. How could we make these large, advertising signs more effective?
We could make them even bigger, though that would be a bit distracting and further mar the landscape. We could make them flash, move or change images? That’s being done, but again that might add to the distraction and be perceived as “intrusive” or trashy. We could make billboards more accessible and affordable to small businesses and organizations with a big message, but small budget.
The purpose of a billboard is to catch the eye of all passersby, and make thousands of impressions for a brand or message to a “captive audience”. But, the very nature of a billboard is to function as an uninvited distraction that is delivered (forced) on viewers. Drivers can’t opt out of seeing these advertisements and there is no way to target the people that specifically might care enough to take further action. Billboards are a spray and pray advertising technique. Impressions (good or bad) are the name of the game.
There are a number of problems with this force-fed advertising technique, most notably the high costs, with little data to monitor effectiveness. Effective marketing has been moving away from this technique for years now, giving way to permission based marketing and word of mouth as the most effective marketing techniques
Here’s my vision of a better billboard for businesses…
Don’t use traditional billboards at all, use promotional car stickers (mini-billboards) instead.
Yes, I’m a sticker guy so of course I’m going to say that, but bear with me for a minute. Let’s look at a few of the benefits.
- Like billboards car stickers catch the eye of most passersby and make thousands of impressions.
- They are an accessible and powerful marketing technique for any size business or organization.
- They are mobile – Not rooted in one place but subtly working in many locations.
- Stickers are perceived (by viewers) as an endorsement (a personal “like”) not a paid advertisement.
- They are more likely to trigger conversations – word of mouth marketing, because they are a form of social media.
- Unlike billboards, there are no monthly payments, placement costs, or expiration dates – as long as individuals choose to push, wear or promote the message or brand, impressions continue to pile on. There is no cost to rent or hold on to the real estate other than maintaining a positive relationship with your customers/fans.
“But wait a minute,” I hear many of you pondering at this point, “not many people are going to choose to put a sticker on their car.” This is a valid concern and absolutely true. This is why effective design, messages and distribution plans for the sticker are so essential. The goal is to maximize the connection with your “fans”, get the sticker displayed, and then once displayed, maximize the impression on everyone else.
Despite a low percentage of stickers that might actually be displayed on cars, the connection with customers, the value, and number of impressions can still very much work out in favor of the marketer. Remember stickers can be a gift, a badge and a form of social media, they are not a paid ad.
Think about what you could do with 300,000 powerfully designed vibrant long-term stickers… then think about one month on a large stationary billboard outside a major city. For the same price, which would you choose?
I’d take the promotional stickers any day.