We drive past them every day – from posters at bus stops through to towering sites on flyovers. But how many of them do we remember – and for what reason?
An ad may strike you because you happen to see it at the right time. You’re looking for a new car or that killer lipstick – and something in the ad makes you remember it. Or it may just be a case that the idea behind it is so clever, or funny, or alluring – it stays with you, regardless of whether you ‘need’ the product. Of course, if it creates the desire within you, and you follow on to purchase the product, then it’s done its job perfectly.
So what are the steps to great billboard advertising?
1. Not Too Wordy
With the exception of Coca Cola’s ad that began ‘Lipsmackin’, thirst-quenchin’, ace-tastin’, motivatin’ (you know the rest!), the general rule is that less is more. Six words or fewer make the greatest impact – and this is literally where every word counts. People drive by in seconds, and if you can grab them with your six words, and get the message across, that’s what it’s all about.
Great examples would be:
- A car advert. Alongside the sleek photography, the caption invites people to ‘Satisfy Your Speed Tooth’
- A mattress company, with an image of two people on a bed saying ‘Sleep With Us’
- And a billboard selling billboard space: ‘Do billboards work? This one did!’
The only exception to this ‘rule’ is in areas of high traffic and rush hour. In areas where people are likely to be captive, in front of the billboard for a while, you do have time to give more information.
2. Use Outstanding Photography.
If you are using photography, it has to be of the highest quality. It’s different rules for plain backgrounds or drawings, but use the best product photographer you can find for product-based images. And the best ‘life’ photographer for people. Doing your research in advance will pay huge dividends.
3. Remember – People Don’t Have To Act On It There And Then
Direct response isn’t necessary. If you want an immediate response, it’s another method you need to employ to reach your customers. A billboard is to inform, to create desire and interest. So don’t worry about including details of phone numbers, Facebook pages and Twitter handles.
4. Clever Is Good, But Too Clever And They Won’t Get It!
If you are advertising something with mass appeal, then it has to reach out to everyone. That’s where a broad appeal message will work.
If it’s a niche market or a targeted market, and you only need to reach those who already ‘get’ your subject matter, then you can afford to use jargon, or industry terms that only they will ‘get’.
Think in terms of who you want to reach – your target has a neighbourhood, a place of work, interests, a name. You’ll have done some profiling, and be able to work out which of the options above will best suit the approach.
5. Spread Yourself Around
As many sites as possible is always preferable. Someone sees you at traffic lights, then 2 miles down the road you’re above them again on an underpass. You pop up again as they leave the underpass, and then they spot you several times as they’re walking through town – maybe at bus stops or in the local shopping centre.
You’re doing a pretty good job of reinforcing yourself and embedding into their consciousness this way, so spend as much of your budget as you can on getting seen. That way, you’ll leave an imprint for when they need what you have to offer.
6. Think Differently and Creatively
2D advertising is fine, but if you can incorporate other elements, like moving parts or 3D models, then even better! If it makes people say ‘wow – that’s clever’, it’s bound to have more impact.