“Exit Now”. This is the biggest strength of a billboard
– to allow you to use it as a point-of-purchase weapon to get people to get off the road and go to the business. No other form of advertising can do this; not newspaper, radio or television. So the most likely advertisers are those that are indeed at the exit nearest the sign, or maybe the “Next Exit” down the road. A business that is 10 miles from the billboard would certainly not be well-positioned to utilize it.
Not all advertisers also make the same profit on each sale of their goods or services. For example, a
motel that charges $100 per night probably makes the full $100 in profit, since their costs for renting
that extra room are zero. They already have a maid, hotel clerk, etc. on staff. That’s why motels are
great advertisers – they can make money off the billboard with just a few customers per month. Add in the “Exit Now” motel slogan, and you’ve got a winner. Other businesses with high profit margins are car dealers, home builders and the like. Would a hobby shop be a good candidate? Hardly. The sale of one toy train might be $40 with a profit of $10 – it takes a lot of sales to pay for that sign.
Look for Programs to Reduce Cost Further to the Advertiser
Many advertisers have funding available through “coop” programs in which product manufacturers will
pay a portion of the billboard (often 50%) if they put their logo in the ad. Learn about these programs
and let advertisers know about them.
Also, it might be possible for two advertisers to share a billboard and split the cost 50/50. I just drove by a billboard that featured a Wendy’s and a Shell Gas Station. They have a common exit and are sharing the cost of the sign. That’s a great way to do it.
Don’t ever let an advertiser put up boring, hard to read copy on the billboard. They won’t sell anything
and will be very unhappy. In today’s world of printed vinyl, the advertisement should feature an
attractive graphic or photo, bold copy with contrasting colors, and a strong message.
There are several national companies that print vinyls, who will handle the design for you for only $50 to $100. Take them up on this offer.
Anyone will advertise on a billboard for free. So it’s a given that every advertiser will rent the sign if the
cost is right – it’s all about the price. So really, you’re not selling the concept of a billboard as much as
acting as a broker to locate the best advertiser with the best price for the sign.
The key here is to talk to the advertisers on what price would work for them, and keep notes on what the offers are. At the end of the day, you want to have offers from a handful of different advertisers. If you do not get offers, you are not trying hard enough. One of my slogans is “what do I have to do to get you on that billboard?” Many advertisers think the sign costs a lot more than it does, or that you’re not negotiable. A smart billboard owner is far from stubborn.
Every billboard has an advertiser that was just meant for it. Find those advertisers, help them make
money with the billboard, and you’ll stay full in recessions, depressions – and the good times, too!