Today’s topic is all about billboards to help your new business build more awareness.

We’re a couple of days away from officially concluding this multi-part series of how do you actually market a business from scratch, with childcare center as an example for this business plan.

In a normal circumstance, I typically wouldn’t recommend billboards. This is one of the first places that you look at, and I’ve strategically given you content day by day, in the order that I would execute—billboards are low on my list. 

However, I’m going to give you a couple of tips and tricks to see if this could actually be a viable tactic for helping drive eyeballs, attention, and awareness. Now, if this tactic didn’t work, I wouldn’t be recommending it. But again, I would say that depending on a couple of variables that we’re going to talk through, largely the investment of what this billboard actually costs—it may or may not make sense. 

Let’s start with the cost. There’s a pretty wide range of investments and really, it’s going to be based on kind of how high traffic the area you’re placing the billboard in. Now, we’ve been using, again, this childcare center as an example. 

  • LOCATION

You’d have to be strategic about where the different billboards should be located. When I say should, that doesn’t mean that there is going to be one, but you want to start to drive around the area. Typically, with a childcare center, parents are only going to drive 5-10 miles. It wouldn’t make sense if you live in a more rural area to be doing a billboard that’s 30 miles away. So, you want to strategically look at the different billboards that are available that are within the right geographic area of your new business. 

  • COST RANGE

I’ve seen costs as low as $200, and I mean a billboard in Times Square is typically $25,000. So normally, the costs are built on a monthly range. However, I do not want you to commit to any long term contracts—this is going to be a two to a three-month thing that’s done strategically, kind of when you open. Roughly, a month or two before opening and usually another month or two after you’ve opened.

Now, again, if the investments are insanely low, say if I was investing $250 I think I could get away with doing a couple of extra months. Again, as long as there’s not one person that’s driving through on a daily basis. 

Generally, billboards are considered OOH or out of home advertising—that’s any kind of advertising that’s reaching your potential customers when they’re outside of their home. The factors that are really going to help determine essentially what this billboard is going to cost are the following:

  • Circulation—how many people are passing through that billboard and that’s gathered by kind of the local transportation authorities. 
  • Demographics—there might be fewer circulation, but it might be in an extremely high-income area. 
  • Impressions—these are the number of people that are going to end up seeing the billboard, and that’s calculated based on the billboard circulation, the size of the billboard, how close it is to the road visibility, and the speed. I know this is getting a little bit complicated, but if you think about it, if someone is driving 30 miles an hour versus 70 miles an hour, that impression is going to be quite different. 

All of that stuff is taken into account. Obviously circulation is great, but if your billboard is on a highway, the impressions might not be anywhere close to the circulation of the people that actually pass by. Depending on the visibility, how close it is to the road, or the size of the billboard, the impressions might be drastically lower. Those are all the different things that you want to keep in mind when they’re essentially coming up with the investment for those billboards. 

Now, it doesn’t just stop with kind of running the ad space. Unless it’s a digital billboard, you also have to typically have to pay for the cost of actually getting it printed and having it set up. So that’s usually not insanely expensive. I mean, I’ve seen it as low as $200 and some as high as about $1,000, for example. You just have to keep that in mind, though, that if you’re going to be investing pretty heavily in a billboard you want to make sure that it’s well-designed and you’re not cheapening out essentially over $100 or $200 on the actual design. 

Now, what actually works well on this billboard? How do you actually grab some attention? 

I want you to again, think about the types of people that are driving by and again, I want you to keep in mind the speed and different things like that. And I want you to keep in mind the area that it’s in. 

  • TELL A STORY

In a perfect world, I want you to tell some kind of story very, very rapidly. But I need it to be extremely visual—more pictures and fewer words. The billboards that do a terrible job are ones that are full of lots of words. With your billboard, I want you to quickly tell a story. 

So think about the child care center example. What if you had a picture of a three-year-old child and on the right of it is that same three-year-old child all grown up as a police officer, a doctor, an entrepreneur, or a lawyer,  or whatever profession that you can easily convey. And then what if the words are simply “ABC Academy enrolling now, and then either with a phone number or an address.”

  • BOLD FONTS AND COLORS

Now, if someone’s speeding by they’re not going to grab that phone number, however. So again, you need to make the impression. They’re only going to be able to read a couple of words, so I would prefer it to be more bold and just simple. Very simple but with big and bold fonts that are contrasting against background colors. You don’t want narrow scripts or narrow fonts—you want colors that are going to stand out. If your billboards in this rural area, you don’t want to be using greens, blues, and browns—you want it to be bright, bold, and even potentially funny. I mean, you want to make sure that it really stands out in that crowd.

  • MAKE IT MEMORABLE

If there are some interesting ways to make it interactive, I have seen that where it really kind of sticks out and really kind of separates itself from the noise. If there’s some way to really make it memorable, similar to the example that I had mentioned a little bit earlier about having those two different pictures. Emotional marketing works considerably well—simple, clear cut, call to action.

What I want you to think about with this billboard, in addition to everything that I just shared was that—people are spending 300 hours every year in their cars and there’s just under I believe it’s like 350,000 billboards. Digital is continuing to grow, but only about 8000 of those are digital billboards. Now, not everyone’s going to look at it consciously. But based on the data, over 70% of people are going to consciously look at these billboards when driving because it’s grabbing their attention. 

The key, however, is that with everything you’re going to pair this with other tactics. When you pair the billboard with search engine marketing, with paid traffic, or with YouTube, with all these other things that you’re doing, you’re going to end up continuing to increase the effectiveness. And that is the whole goal here—that I want your offline to amplify your online marketing and vice versa. 

With a new center opening a new business opening, this is definitely a great tactic as long as you can now—the design, the simplicity and that brand. If you have 30 words on there, and you’ve got all these different images, and it’s just not going to work, you might as well save the money. But if you follow the formula that I just provided to you, this tactic in tandem with others will continue to boost your attention and your numbers

Get out there, make a change, and take some action.