Billboard Advertising Tips: 3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Your First Billboard Ad

Billboards can be fun. Billboard can be boring. Billboards can be noticeable. Billboards can be easy to ignore. Billboards can really get your message out there. Billboards can be a waste of money.

hmmm, it really can go either way.


Here are 3 questions to ask yourself if you are considering a billboard ad for your business

1. “Is broadcasting with outdoor advertising to the general public really the best way to get my message to my target client?”

If you know the profile of your target clients pretty well, then crunch some numbers and work out how much wastage there is.

For example if you’re selling insurance, then you could guess that:

  • 20% don’t care
  • 30% have enough cover and are not interested
  • 30% are loyal to their current provider
  • but the timing is right for 1%

Then you can estimate the size of the audience:

  • If the traffic is 20,000 cars per day
  • Your audience is 200 people per day (1%)
  • But only 25% of them might notice and read your billboard
  • So that leaves you with 50 people

Now let’s estimate the cost:

  • Your cost is $100/day for the billboard ($3k/month is about right)
  • So you are paying $2 per impression ($100/50 people)
  • 1% of those might take action and give you a call (industry average)
  • Bringing your cost-per-enquiry to $200 ($2/1%)
  • Your conversion from enquiry to sale is 20% (industry average)
  • Giving you a cost-per-sale of $1000

So, is the lifetime value of your customer more than $1000?

If so, congratulations, give billboard advertising a try!

If not, try something else.

2. “What state of mind is my audience in?”

Here’s what we know about public on the move in cars/trucks/bikes:

  • They are on the way to somewhere
  • They are busy, stressed in traffic, not in the mood to be sold to
  • They don’t have a pen or a free hand to write down a phone number or website address
  • They aren’t allowed to make a phone call whilst driving

Wow, this is seriously an unreceptive auidence. Can you see how the odds are stacked against you here?

One small positive is that we are creatures of habit. Those same people will probably be past your billboard tomorrow, and the day after and the day after that.

So at least you’ve got frequency on your side. A chance for your message to sink in a bit.

So, how can you get them to take action in this situation?

3. “What are the essential elements that my billboard must have?”

Your billboard should have these 4 components and these 4 components only:

  1. Headline
    • A huge headline (5 to 9 words) that asks a question, or
    • States the primary benefit of what you’re selling
    • (No crazy fonts. Make it super easy to read)
  2. Photo
    • One huge photo that has impact
    • Human faces are good
    • Something a bit unusual is good
    • Avoid stock photography if you can
  3. Your business name/logo
    • Small
    • Don’t take up room that the headline and photo might need to increase their impact
  4. State the action you want them to take
    • Either a phone number and/or website address

Your thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus

Here are my notes on “Flash Foresight: See the Invisible to Do the Impossible” by Daniel Burrus.Flash-Foresight-Book

I learnt a lot from this book. The 2 biggest lessons for me were:

  1. I’ve heard about the aging population a million times, but this book made me think about it in 2 different ways:
    • It will create an enormous part-time, low-cost workforce with huge business experience
    • There is enormous business opportunity as that generation requires more health care, more medical technology (hearing aids for example)
  2. Technology-driven change doesn’t kill off the old ways of getting things done, it adds on
    • Eg e-news hasn’t killed newspapers, email and digital storage hasn’t killed paperwork

Here’s a collection of my other favourite bits from this book. Continue reading “Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus”

Could An Infomercial Make You Serious Money? How To Create One For Your Business

The king of infomercials: Billy Mays
Billy Mays: Has sold millions of dollars of product via infomercial

Infomercials can be hilariously bad and can make you cringe but don’t forget about how they have the ability to turn people into millionaires.

If you didn’t know already, the world “infomercial” is a combination of the words “information” and “commercial”. Pretty clever huh? 🙂

In the industry they are also called “television direct response advertising”. I think “infomercial” is much better though, don’t you?

Imagine for a moment that you had an infomercial to sell your product or service…

You’ve got an overly-enthusiastic man with a beard and/or an equally enthusiastic middle-aged woman speaking straight into the camera and highlighting exactly why the people watching from home will change their lives with your product in your hands.

Examples of the best performing infomercials in the world

Billy Mays was the king of infomercials, here’s a compilation video of his best comercials:

What do you need to do to make your own infomercial?

To make that happen you need to know that infomercials are very expensive to produce in the first place. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars (even hundreds of thousands of dollars).

On your to-do list to make your infomercial happen you need to:

  • Hire a studio
  • Hire actors
  • Hire a director and script writer
  • Build a set
  • Hire videographers, editors and special effects masters
  • Buy a toll-free number
  • Hire logistics people to distribute

Or, just hire a specialist infomercial company to put this project together for you. They will take upfront fees plus a commission on every item they sell for you.

But once that’s all done and your infomercial video is created, non-prime time TV advertising is pretty cheap, and people with money to burn are up at all those strange hours of the night watching.

If your product solves a problem they have (or better yet, a problem they didn’t know they have until they see your product), then you could be laughing all the way to the bank!

Are Infomercials Better For Products or Services?

Definitely products. Products scale better (you can fill a warehouse), and they are non-perishable (if you don’t sell it today, you can sell it tomorrow).

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below

In-Movie Product Placement: Could Your Brand Be Used Popular Movie Characters?

One of my favourites movies comes to mind when I think about in-movie product placement: iRobot with Will Smith.

You’ll see him personally use:

  • Converse’s Chuck Taylor All-Stars
  • Audi RSQ
  • FedEx
  • Tecate
  • JVC


For me, the product placements didn’t detract from the movie at all. Some of the zoom-ins were a bit cheesy I spose, but not too bad.

The challenge for you would be coming up with millions of dollars to make this happen for your product or service.

Some directors take a hard line and won’t compromise the art of their movie at all, others might be a bit more willing to have you decrease their budget.

You could try with TV dramas that are made near you, or documentaries or reality TV shows too.

8 Tips To Get Better Results From Your Trade Show or Expo Stand

1. All the best Trade Show booths gone? Only a few right at the back to choose from? Fine!

Don’t worry too much about your location.

You instinctively think that a high traffic area would be better, but don’t make that assumption.

Most visitors will walk around the entire trade show/expo. You’ll get a chance at making a connection wherever you are. So don’t stress about it. (And if you wait until the last minute you can get some really good discounts from the organisers!)

2. Say hi to everyone who walks past. Everyone. (And every time they walk past)

There’s a fine line between looking desperate, and being friendly and approachable.

But the simple act of saying hi has a profound psychological effect.

It taps in to a basic human need – the need for connection.   In response, most will turn and give your posters and branding a chance to speak to them.

3. Bring your hottest employees

Everyone likes a bit of eye candy at trade shows and expos. If they know your product inside out, all the better.

4. Minimise your branding, maximise the benefits you are offering

This may be hard to hear, but no-one really cares about your brand.  They only care about themselves and if you can help them.

So don’t make the classic mistake of branding the background of your booth with huge logos. The trick is to write benefit driven headlines and bullet points.

The purpose is to give walkers-by a snapshot of what you do so they can decide if they need your services.  This way, you get  the visitors who want the benefits you state in your headline and bullet points, to stop and talk to you, and everyone else walks away.

Good! That’s what you want!

5. Write notes on business cards as you collect them

Write a few notes on the back of prospects business cards to remind you who they are later.

You could record your impressions about how likely they are to become clients.

And for bonus points, write a note about what they told you about their business to jog your memory later, so you can personalise your follow up email to them.

6. Don’t just require a business card for the prize draw, have an entry form

This is a common mistake.

You think that just asking people to pop a business card into the fish bowl or entry box is easy right?

Yes, it’s easy for them, but it’s hard for you.

It’s hard for you to determine if those prospects are real candidates for new business.

It’s hard for you to avoid wasting time on those that aren’t.

So on your entry form (A6 size, in pads bound with plastic coils work really well) have space to staple their business card to the form (and provide a stapler), and ask them filtering questions about their needs.

For example “what brand of accounting software are you currently using?” (if you sell accounting software), “how many employees to you have” (if you are selling HR services), “what’s the #1 annoying thing about xyz?”

There is nothing worse than drawing the winner to find someone completely unsuited to being a client of yours.  What a waste!

In fact, I suggest you go through the entries and throw the unsuitable entries in the bin before you do the draw.

7. What should the prize for the prize draw be?

You could go with a voucher for discounts on your services, or you could go with something with a much wider appeal like an iphone.

I say cast the net wide by offering the later, and let your entry form do the filtering for you.

8. Follow up super-fast

Of all these tips, this one is the most important.

Have a follow-up plan in place before you go.

For example if it’s a 3 day trade show or expo, that night from your hotel, email the new contacts you made, just to say hi (you can sell to them later, this time you just want to stand out from the hundreds of people they met that day).  Or you might email the contact details to a staff member for sending out the next morning (using your email address).

One time I got a text message from an business banking rep just to say he enjoyed meeting me – within 5 minutes of leaving his booth! That made a huge impression.

What tips do you have to add?

Have you been to trade shows and expo’s? As an exhibitor? As a visitor? What have you seen or done that worked?  Write your thoughts in the comments below.

Need a Better Radio Ad? 4 Tips To Improve Your Radio Advertising

In a moment I will share with you 4 tips on how to write a radio ad that actually works. But first, I want you to think about radio advertising from your point of view as a member of the audience.

Q: Why do you listen to the radio?

  • Music?
  • Witty Commentary?
  • Advertising?
  • Because you like hearing the same weather report and news headlines every 15 minutes?

Q: Where are you when you listen to the radio?

  • In the car?
  • On your morning run or bike ride?
  • In the office?
  • On the toilet?

Q: What do you do when the ads come on?

  • Change the radio station?
  • “Zone out” while you wait for the music or chat to start again?
  • Listen carefully for the latest sales and bargains?

You can see that there are a million potential distractions that can prevent your advertising message getting through to your radio audience.

And radio is a mass-media form of advertising after-all, so there is a huge amount of wastage (I hate wastage!).

Your potential audience could be 10,000 people, but how many of those people are:

  1. Listening attentively…
  2. at that precise moment in time…
  3. that need what you are selling…
  4. and are motivated enough to take action?

Probably none.

If you ask a radio advertising sales person what it takes to generate business for you using radio advertising, they will tell you there are 2 things you need:

  1. High repetition/frequency
  2. Say your brand name heaps

That is complete bullocks!

They say “repetition” because they want you to buy more ads.

They say “brand name” because that’s what your boss is more likely to approve the ad because he loves to hear his brand name again and again.

As you can probably tell by now, I am not a fan of radio advertising and haven’t recommended it to any of my clients for years.  I’ve tried it several times, but it didn’t generate any results.

And if you’re not getting results from your advertising (or you don’t know how to measure them), then what’s the point? You might as well flush your advertising dollars down the toilet!

But this morning, whilst running, I heard a radio ad that had all the elements of success going for it.

I heard this radio ad once and I remembered these 4 important facts:

  1. The name of the business owner
  2. What he is offering
  3. How he distinguishes himself from the competition
  4. What should you do next if you want to contact him or find out more

Do you realise how amazing that is?  After a single exposure?

So what can we learn from this?

What do you have to do to write a radio ad like this that at least has a chance at generating results for you?

Here is your lesson for the day:

4 Essential Components of a Radio Ad

1. Target your audience with your opening sentence

The opening sentence is exactly like a headline in a newspaper. If you don’t like the headline you don’t read the article.  It’s the same with radio ads.  If the opening sentence doesn’t speak to you, you “zone out” and don’t listen to the rest of the ad.  At first, you might think that’s bad, but that’s great!  It means you speaking to your target audience directly, and people who aren’t interested are being filtered out.

2. Use the word “you” through-out your ad

This is just like speed dating.  You only have 30 seconds, so do you talk about yourself or do you talk about them?

You talk about them of course!

Don’t make the mistake of talking about you and your business “we do this, and we do that”. Borrrr-ring!

What do people care about more: themselves or what you are trying to sell them?


So talk about the listener, what they want, what they need, and use “you” and “your” constantly.

3. Distinguish yourself with a single fact

You’ve only got time to state 1 fact.

The amazing thing about this is that is the fact doesn’t have to be overly impressive, it just has to be distinctive.

In this example, Aaron said he was “one of NZ’s youngest celebrants”.  Amazing? No. Distinctive? Yes!

4. Make the call to action a website address

The #1 most common mistake in radio ads is stating a phone number as the call-to-action.

Phone numbers are too hard to remember! (Even word numbers eg 0800 CALL ME NOW). They might rattle around in your brain for a few seconds, but you know that by the time you find a piece of paper and a pen (or your cellphone), they will be gone. So you don’t bother.

A website address works because is probably uses the same brand name that was mentioned in the ad with a “.com” on the end of it. Easy to remember. Easy for your audience to type in when they next get to a computer (or remember days or weeks later!)

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

TEDxAuckland 2014: 18 Hours of Awesomeness

I made my annual trip to TEDxAuckland on Saturday, and for the last 2 years I have captured my experience here on, but this time I’ve written my report on the TEDxTauranga website.

Read it now: TEDxAuckland 2014: 18 Hours of Awesomeness

Miniature Billboard Advertising: Give It A Try With These 4 Tips

Whilst driving downtown yesterday I spotted tiny billboards strapped to street light polls and road signage opposite a High School.

4 Lessons You Can Learn From These Guerilla Miniature Billboards

What can you learn from this clever “guerilla” method of advertising? Could you replicate this strategy for your business?

1. Do it cheap.

  • They are made of the core-flute just like real estate signs.
  • There is no graphics.
  • You could get them made for about $10 each.
  • Budget looking can be very effective. When you get junk mail in your letterbox at home do the crappy hand-written flyers get your attention first before the sleek professional KFC flyers? For sure.

2. Keep your message simple.

  • Mountain bikers know what “MTB” means so this headline captures the target audiences attention.
  • On a full size 6m x 3m billboard your word limit is about 11. So in this case you have about 5 words.
  • What simple 4 or 5 word headline can you use to cut through to your target audience?

3. Choose a single call-to-action.

  • In this case, you just visit the website if the headline “MTB Downhill Racing” appeals to you.
  • The website address is related to the headline so it’s reasonably easy to remember.
  • On a website you can state 5 or 6 different ways to contact you, on a miniature billboard you must choose just one.
  • A website address is very good. A phone number could work but many people prefer to check you out anonymously via a website rather than call a number and get “sold to”.

4. Repeat your message.

  • Normally you don’t get the chance to repeat a standard 6m x 3m billboard 20 metres down the road, because it’ll double your costs.  So you are only giving your billboard one chance to be read as your potential customers zoom past at 50 kph or 100 kph.
  • In this case there were 3 miniature billboards about 20 metres apart.
  • I didn’t really notice the first, but I quickly read the second, and I read the third carefully.
  • It made an impression that a single exposure would not have.
  • In fact, I turned my car around and stopped on the side of the road, took some photos, wrote this article and visited the website mentioned. That’s the magic of repetition.

“Great, but are these billboards legal?”

Probably not. Your local Council probably has a bylaw which prohibits this sort of guerilla advertising.

If they get a complaint from the public (or your competition!), the council will take them down for sure (you probably won’t even get fined!).

But until then, you’ve got yourself some very cheap and effective advertising, so go for it!

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.