When Size Matters, Bigger IS Better!

In the world of advertising one thing matters above all others – you’ve got to be seen. It doesn’t matter how good the design, how timely the offer; if you’re not seen, everything else is irrelevant.

Large format printing like posters, sandwich boards (often called A-frames) and billboards  make up the ‘big’ end of town in the printing Bigger is Better in advertisingworld. And when it comes to being noticed, size does matter!

The key to the effectiveness of large format and outdoor advertising lies in the fact that these forms of marketing are constant visual reminders for the people who see them every day. No matter how often the advertisement is seen, each encounter helps to reinforce awareness of the goods or services in question.

As a form of cost-effective brand building, billboards and large-format signage are hard to beat. Everyday thousands of people pass them, a largely captive market finding momentary distraction from their daily commute, or a timely reminder of something that has to be done.

an example of a large format sandwich board signThis is why sandwich boards are often found outside businesses.

Positioned as they are, their advertising catches the attention of people walking or driving by, enticing them to come inside.

With clever design and a well-timed offer they can be especially effective on the impulse buyer.

How effective? Well, according to a comprehensive study carried out in America in 2009, you might file it under ‘extremely’!

The study found that:

• 68% of people frequently or sometimes make their shopping decisions while in the car;
• 38% make the decision to stop at the store while on their way home;
• 24% said they were motivated to visit a particular store that day because of an outdoor ad message;
• 32% visited the retailer they saw on a billboard later that week;
• 50% reported receiving directional information from a billboard; and
24% said they have immediately visited a business because of an outdoor ad message.

That’s pretty powerful stuff right there.

Playing into this is the fact that the attention span of most people is approximately 8 seconds. So advertisers have to make the most of those 8 seconds to get hold of their audience and hook them in for the rest of the message. This is where billboards come into their own.

Size matters - large billboard

With a maximum word count of 6-10 words, people passing can easily take in the headline message, even when they are in a fast-moving vehicle, be it a car, bus or train. This information is being constantly reinforced – with every encounter the details of the business are again put before prospective customers.

This is what makes them so cost-effective. A billboard may cost $30,000 to design and install, but compare that to a full page ad in a daily paper which would be about the same price. The circulation of the paper may appear superior, but it’s for one day. The billboard can be up for a month, all day every day, constantly building on brand awareness.

And there is no possibility of the message being lost in a mix of ads and editorials. They stand out like beacons. So too do pull-up banners, large format posters and sandwich boards. By the very nature of their size, they can’t be missed.

Size matters - billboards stand out

For an effective large format campaign then, remember these details:

• Keep it simple – a snappy headline of no more than 10 words;
• Make it stand out – bright punchy colours, easily digested images;
• Pick the right location – don’t place a placard in the way of people or you’ll be remembered for the wrong reasons;
• Don’t put a QR code on a billboard by the highway – drivers can’t possibly use it, and given the high number of single occupant vehicles passengers aren’t likely to either;
• Use a graphic designer to get the best bang for your buck;
• Large format signs are secondary advertising mediums, they aren’t meant to do the heavy lifting for your campaign. If you want to get more information across, direct your prospective customers to your website, or make a pamphlet or flyer available alongside your board;
• Don’t try and be too clever – remember the 8 second attention span. Use signage to build on your brand or deliver a message;
• Humour is one of the best ways to get across a message – a clever bit of copy goes a long way.

What’s the best example of outdoor signage you have seen?

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About Jeff Polley

I'm interested in life and making the most of it. I have a fondness for good coffee and scintillating conversation. I don't act my age. For more you can follow me on Twitter - @xmpieman
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