Billboard Mastery Podcast: Episode 6

Looking Big When You’re Small

One of the biggest self-confidence busters when you’re starting out with trying to build, buy or rent billboards is the concern that you look “small” and therefore can’t compete with “big” companies. Even though many property owners and advertisers prefer working with the “underdog” there’s no question that there are certain traits of big companies that you want to copy to give greater confidence to the customer. So how can you look “big” when you’re “small”. In this Billboard Mastery podcast we’re going to review the many tricks you can adopt to give the appearance of being much larger than you are in real life. 

Episode 6: Looking Big When You’re Small Transcript

When I got in the billboard business from scratch, I was very, very concerned about one item. I had no track record. I looked like a small guy starting out, and I didn't know how I could possibly compete with big companies. When I'd walk into every meeting, they sized me up and say, "Well, you're not really a player." And go with a giant company instead. So I decided from the very beginning on my coffee table, I would endeavor to appear like someone at a big company, even though I had no big company to back me up. So how do you look big when you're small? Well, let's talk about this for a moment. How do we know someone's from a big company instead of a small company? When somebody goes out to a meeting, what tells us that? Well, it's reflected in the way they look, and some other subtle ideas.

So I thought I would take all those subtle ideas and we'd discuss those. And I think you'll then see how you can appear like you're from a really big company when you're really not. Let's first start off with the way you dress when you go to meetings. I have always been comfortable with only one outfit, suit pants, typically gray, a white or blue button down shirt, with my sleeves rolled up and black leather shoes. Why is that? Because that's kind of the corporate uniform I noticed of all of my competitors. So I thought if I look like them, they will just assume that no one who owns their own business would ever want to go around wearing suit pant, black leather shoes, and a rolled up long sleeve shirt. Right? If you didn't have to meet anyone's rules and regulations, you probably would wear like maybe a comfortable polo shirt and some shorts. I would assume I certainly would.

The outfit was horribly uncomfortable, but it always got the job done. The simple fact, you wear an outfit that you would not choose yourself, suggests you're with a big company because they figure no one but a big company person would dress like that. So I think dressing very conservative and uncomfortable is key. Now don't wear that all the time, the rest of the time dress comfortably. But again, when you go out to meet somebody, whether you're renting their ground space to build the billboard, or looking to buy in the billboard or meeting with an advertiser, I know it's uncomfortable, but the very fact that you look uncomfortable helps you a whole lot. Number two, when I pull up in a vehicle, I like to have, if I think I need it, a magnetic logo, I can stick to the door.

Why? Because only big companies have company vehicles. Small companies do not have company vehicles. Now I don't want to paint a logo on my real car. Because I don't like that. I don't want to drive around town, driving some car with a logo on it. But if you made a magnetic sign, it is so thin. You can't see it's not painted. It just sticks to the side of your car, magnetically. When you don't need it, you take one off each door and you face them face to face and they stick together and you can then put it in your trunk. You can even put it behind your seat. I think it has huge impact, insanely low cost. And most people are not realizing that you can do that. They think you have to paint the thing on. You don't have to paint the thing on you can do it magnetically.

You can get those magnets built almost anywhere, Fast Signs or anyone online can make you a magnetic logo. And speaking of logo, you need a good logo. One thing about my billboard logo has always been that it's very, very attractively done. It looks like a big company. Why? Because I copied big company logos. The item on the billboard called the shield. That thing that goes in the middle under the ad face. That's something you want to be proud of and you need to have a good looking one that looks like everybody else.

Go and look at all the biggest companies in your market and what their shield or logo looks like. And just kind of sort of copy it. Don't copy it to the letter. Don't engage in any kind of actual copyright infringement, put your own name on it, but make it look kind of like theirs. Follow their colors. I always have used red and white. Why? Because most of the big companies use red and white, no other reason.

So look at the big companies and adopt what they're doing. As far as coming up with your logo, don't do it yourself. There are websites out there like Fiverr, who can make you a logo for as little as five bucks. And there's some others out there like 99designs that can do a tremendously good logo for about 99 bucks. No reason not to do that because the cost is so very inexpensive.

And then take that logo and let's move that forward into your stationary selection. Make really good business cards, make a really good letter head. I know we live in an email society today, but there are still things that have to be done in writing, such as the lease, such as the ad contract.

So when you send out that lease and ad contract, what do you need? You need a good looking professional quality mailing label for that manila envelope. You need a good professional looking business card to attach to it. And you need a good looking piece of stationary to go with it, with the business card that says, as we discussed, here's the lease for the billboard, blah, blah, blah. So get some good stationery done. I think it's very, very important for you. And then on top of that, let's build a really, really good website. Now this world we live in today is all about SEO. It's all about people looking you up online. We're all cyber sleuths, 24 hours a day. Always try to look up and think, what can I find out about that person? When you give your name, when you give your logo out there, people you have to imagine, will look it up.

Make sure they land on something that's professional looking. You don't have to have a big professional portfolio of billboards to talk about what you're trying to achieve, what your goals and ambitions are. And if you look at most websites for big companies, they just show some, basically some stock photos that you yourself can shoot. Don't however, engage in some of the things they do, where they talk about all the billboards that they own, because you don't have any. Don't talk about your management teams, because it's typically just you. Skip those items. But if you make the website look very professional people won't normally look beyond the landing page. They'll look at it and go, "Oh yeah, they must be a big company. I see some pictures of some billboards that are all professionally done." What you don't want to have is no website at all.

That's terrifying. Or a very low quality. One once again, you can find people online. I believe Fiverr will offer to build you a web page. So don't build one yourself, if you don't know what you're doing. And don't build one yourself, if you can't build one, that looks as good as a big company. There are people who do that for you at very, very inexpensive prices. And now let's talk about what you do to look like a big company when you meet with people. One thing I also wanted to model after in my attempt to appear big, when I was tiny was I wanted to adopt the speech patterns. I wanted to adopt the mannerisms of the big companies so that no one could identify me from one of my competitors that was really, really big. And these are what I found. Number one, always be busy.

Big companies have lots to do. Small companies just starting out don't have anything to do. Big companies have management meetings they have to be, and they have a whole list of people they have to meet that day. They're always in a rush. They're always in a hustle. Look like you are even if you're not, even if you don't have any other meetings, or any other calls, or any other clients or anything, don't tell the person that. It scares them to death.

Ever been in a foreign place. And you're going to go down and eat lunch and you're driving around, you notice you won't go in a restaurant that has no cars, ever done that? It's like noon. Here is a restaurant and you would pull in except there's nobody there. It doesn't matter what type of food it might be. The very fact that no cars are there suggests that the locals don't want to go there. And that means it may be a problem.

It's just human nature. When you talk to someone who's busy, it sends off the vibe that there's a lot of people who are in agreement and want to work with this person. So always tell people, okay, I've got another meeting coming up. I got to go, keep things brief when you're brief, things go well. But when you spend time, when you don't appear to have anything else going on and just kind of hang out with the person, it sends a warning signal to them that, wait, why is this person hanging around? And often you can destroy your deal just by kind of hanging out seeming like there is no pressing matter going on and that's not good. The same with your speech patterns. When I walk out to show someone where a billboard would go, what I would suggest you do is go straight to that one topic.

If I meet a property owner at their property, I would get out of my vehicle with a magnetic sign proudly on the door. They don't know it's magnetic. Wearing my outfit that looks like I work at a big company. Even though I don't'. I would say, "Let me show you where the sign would go." Not, "Hey, how's it going? How about the Cowboys?" And all that kind of stuff. No, go straight to it. Because remember you're busy, even if you're not. So you say to them, "Let me show you where the sign will go." Walk over, show them, okay. Here's where the pole or here's where the poles would go. This is how we'll orient to your property. Does all this look good to you? Don't engage in any small talk at all. They will immediately think, oh, this person's professional.

They're super busy. They must do this all the time. Okay, yeah. That location looks good to me. Okay. Well here I'll need to have you sign here so I can get started. That simple. Just a one, two punch to get the thing signed. Don't start launching into your background, your career or anything or small talk about the weather or politics or sports. All that does is send the message that you have nothing else going on. Therefore, you're not popular. And therefore they shouldn't mess with you. The same with the ad lease. When you go to meet with the advertiser, you're going to meet with McDonald's. You go in the guy's office and you should immediately pull out of an envelope and say, "Here's kind of what I'm thinking on the sign. Is this what you're thinking?" That already gets past the idea of him renting it or not.

Because you're already talking the ads and he kind of rolls with it. Okay. Yeah. That looks about right. And then you say, "Okay, well sign here where I highlighted and we'll get this going." Sometimes they don't even read the lease because you're so forceful. So in demand, so popular, they just kind of roll with it. But that's how it all works. You've got to look in every respect, like you're from a big company.

Now to people all just universally loved big companies? No, people like people, even at the big company, you're still a person. It doesn't matter whether you work at a giant company with 50,000 signs, or zero signs, people bond with people that they generally like, that treat them with respect, who have good ideas. You can still do all those things, but you don't want to fire off any of the warning signs that you're just starting out. That's where you get into trouble was when people think, oh, they're a rookie, they're a novice. They won't know what to do. Don't go there. Start off strong, start off looking like a big company in every aspect and things will go well.