I have the honor to serve on the Marketing Committee of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. During a recent committee meeting, one of my colleagues suggested that we should consider running a billboard campaign to encourage Bridgeport area businesses to join the BRBC. By the end of that meeting we had secured space on a few billboards, and were well on our way to crafting the message. Here are the boards that are now up and running in the Bridgeport area:
With the advent of digital billboards, good billboard designs are easier than ever to create. But so are bad ones. So, here are 4 simple rules that will help you create compelling billboard messages.
1. Keep it simple. Less is more, especially when it comes to outdoor advertising. A billboard is not a website. There’s no need to include every detail about your business. I’ve seen way too many boards that contain phone numbers, street addresses, even ZIP codes. And don’t get me started on grammatical errors, especially the dreaded misplaced apostrophe! Think about it, how many words can you possibly read and comprehend while you’re barrelling down the highway at 70 miles per hour? This board contains over 50 words:
I drove past a billboard for a Mexican restaurant on I-95 the other day. In addition to the restaurant’s logo, location, and other information, it contained the phonetic spelling of the name of a Mexican entree that I assume is on their menu. The phonetic spelling is displayed as IN-DI-VID-U-AL syllables, forcing the reader (driver) to attempt to comprehend what the heck they’re trying to say while concentrating on driving in Connecticut traffic. By the way, this particular restaurant has great margaritas. But their billboards #FAIL. Simple, clear and concise messages work. Complex and wordy messages don’t. Here’s an example of an iconic outdoor advertising campaign that’s as simple as they get:
2. Go for the Unexpected. People drive the same route every day. To and from work, school, shopping. Any change in the scenery is likely to be noticed. That’s one reason we love digital billboards. When a digital board flips to a new ad, it grabs attention. But even a static billboard can be activated with an extension or a prop and great creative. Here’s a board that BRBC member supporter BMW of Bridgeport ran. Absolutely unexpected, and definitely an attention-grabber:
3. Include a call-to-action. If you want to make the sale, ask for the sale. The BRBC billboard shown at the top of this post asks the reader to join the BRBC. Our Edge board asks the reader to join today, and gives them a big, bold and compelling reason to do so:
4. Use appropriate images. Owning a smartphone doesn’t make you a photographer. If you’re spending thousands of dollars a month on billboard advertising, spend a few hundred dollars to hire a professional photographer. Nothing looks less appetizing than a bad food photo:
Outdoor advertising is affordable, effective and very visible. As long as traffic keeps backing up on Connecticut’s highways, billboards are one of your best advertising bets. Think about that the next time you’re stuck in rush hour traffic on I-95.