Have You Seen Us?

July 12, 2017

Tony Zipparro

If you have been driving around the Chicagoland area network of suburbs lately (maybe a trip to O’Hare?) you might be privvied to our onslaught of billboards floating around. It’s a mix of digital versus static and there is no telling where we might end up. If you see us give us a wave! But if you are not familiar with them, well, we get a lot of questions and statements on it, which surprised us. Basically the question is:

That doesn’t work…does it?

The answer: Absolutely, 100% it works. We did not always have them up, though. Putting up billboards for our own company is just something that came about within the last couple years and was a huge jump for us. The reason is that billboards aren’t cheap, aren’t as easily trackable for performance, and definitely aren’t wham, bam, thank you ma’am marketing techniques. You have to have commitment to the campaign to see results. After nearly a year of researching placement, colors, messaging, and methods to track them – we launched. Three years later we have still continued to find return as compared to the marketing costs.

So how do you evaluate whether or not billboards are a good move for you? It’s a multi-faceted approach with lots of variables, but below are some general questions to help you set expectations and potential success rates going in. If you reach a question and find you’re saying “no” or your mindset doesn’t match the investment, billboards might not be the best move for you, at least not right now.

Are you branding or marketing?

Branding equates to putting advertising out in order to attract awareness. Marketing equates to putting advertising out in order to attract dollars (aka customers). If you are just doing it for branding, I assume you have it made – Congratulations! Skip ahead ten steps and start placing your orders for billboards (but seriously don’t…you should still come up with a budgeting and tracking plan). Billboards for branding is a radically different equation than billboards for marketing. This case is more for marketing.

What are your margins?

While billboards get a lot of “impressions”, they are still high dollar purchases. Don’t delusion yourself into thinking you are going to get hundreds or thousands of customers in a month. What do you make on the immediate ROI of a new customer? (Don’t even think about annual or lifetime ROI for a customer in this.) If the answer is $1,000+ in net for every new customer, that’s at least a good start. While a couple hundred dollars could work, anything less is a risky move. Now B2C versus B2B is another consideration but of course a bit too complex for right now. Make sure to factor that in, too!

How much money do you have to throw away?

How much money can you safely loose without running into financial hardship or going crazy? If the answer is less than $10,000, then think again. That is a very minimal spend especially total over 3 months. If you are comfortable higher than that at $15,000 total over the three months you are in a more realistic range for it becoming a viable option.

Where are you in your marketing life cycle?

Think about what you have done for marketing up until this point. Are you missing anything that might provide a lower risk / higher reward matrix? This is crucial to make sure that if you are just looking to attract new customers you are not jumping to the glitz and glamour of your billboard being out there for all to see, and you are actually taking the next lowest hanging fruit in terms of profitability.

Where are you placing them?

Are you running a local campaign only? If so make sure you are familiar with the placements. Think about the routes of travel and who uses the roads you will be placing billboards up on. Where do those people live going north on 294 past the O’Hare oasis at 4:30pm? Also factor in traffic positions, backups, lane openings, merging highways, etc. Those all make a drastic difference of whether or not someone that is driving is even able to pay attention to your marketing. If it is a more national or multi-location campaign, know your market the same. Sure you can rely on the experts helping you to place them, but in the end you want to be sure that your placement is in a spot that gives you the highest potential target market visibility.