There are many different ways to rent vacant billboard space, and some are more effective than others. In this Billboard Mastery podcast we’re going to review some of my favorite methods and why. It’s not hard to rent any billboard if you follow all of these methods, but some have more impact than others.
Episode 46: My Favorite Ways To Rent A Billboard Transcript
There are many different ways to rent a vacant Billboard. Some are better than others. This is Frank Rolfe, the Billboard Mastery podcast. We're gonna talk about the 10 different ways to rent any vacant Billboard advertising face, but also equally importantly, which ones are the good ones, from which ones are not as good. The first thing you'll find when you have a vacant Billboard is you don't really know who is the most logical occupant of that sign. So to help you out in your quest, it's always a great idea if you can put up something that says "for lease" and a giant phone number or sign "for lease" and a giant phone number or sign "available" and a giant phone number. I'll let you take your choice on the verbiage, but the phone number needs to be gigantic. Now, why is that always a good beginning spot? Because people are gonna drive by that sign, people that you don't know, people that it will take you a while to find in these other steps and might just immediately call you and say, "I'll take it." I've had that experience many, many times. People out of the blue, people I would have never even had on my radar screen. It might be a podiatrist down in the street, even business categories you don't even think of.
But when they see the vacant sign, suddenly they call you and the deal is forged, just sometimes as rapidly as you put your phone number up there, that's a great way to market your sign. Another great way to market your sign is with what I call quick close advertisers, these are ones that are so very obvious. It might be someone at the next exit, it might be someone who's moving over from another sign in the area. These are people that you can go to them and you know they want the sign. They want the sign to say "exit now" or "next exit" or they already have an existing Billboard and maybe they just wanna go to your side 'cause it's got better visibility or lower cost. It doesn't really matter the reason, but those are what I call a quick close advertisers. I call them quick close because their need is so obvious, so palpable, that it's not hard to visualize that they would want the sign. On any sign in America, you can typically build a shortlist of maybe 10 or 20 quick close candidates. All the signs going in the same direction on both sides of the highway, those all go on the list, and then all the businesses at the next exit in maybe the exit even after that.
Then comes direct mail. I've always been a big advocate of direct mail advertising to try and get people to rent your sign. So in direct mail, you would simply send a letter or a postcard to all the businesses in the area that fit the industry category, that would typically rent a sign. Now, what are those industry categories? Well, who are the biggest advertisers of billboards? Well, typically things like restaurants, car dealers, truck stops. Those are the kind of industries are a big proponent of Billboard advertising, and if you build a good database of those and send it out in a direct mail piece, you can often immediately find the perfect advertiser.
Now, after those top three, it goes down a little bit, because these next two are a little harder to construct. One is a co-op sign. On a co-op, what you have is you have someone who sells a certain product that has a co-op marketing campaign. For example, a Western wear store and Justin Boots. Justin Boots frequently has programs where they will pay half the cost of a Billboard, if the Western wear store will pay the other half, but it has to prominently display Justin Boots and the Justin logo. So that's called a co-op sign, it's a co-op between the product manufacturer and the person who sells the product. Now, another one is a combo. Now, with the combo, what we have is we're looking for not just one advertiser, but several advertisers. We're gonna take that ad and we're gonna break it up into pieces, typically two, sometimes three.
I know you've seen these, they have a common exit, frequently, and then they have three logos side by side, and each of those advertisers is paying a third of the price of the sign. It's a great way to market lot of signs because it puts the monthly cost at a lower amount, but the problem is, it requires you to now have two or three advertisers instead of one, so it seems to make your quest even more difficult. Now, the next two after that, preemptable cash and preemptable trade, these are not long-term advertisers, and I obviously like to have situations where people stay on signs forever, for a lifetime preferably.
So a preemptive side is just that, you can take it down. So this is a way just to inventory space until you are ready and have a better advertiser to take that spot. A preemptable cash advertiser would pay a set amount in cash every month until you get a different higher-paying advertiser, and one that's preemptable trade, that would be based on trade credits. There are barter exchanges that will give you, instead of cash, trade credit points in order to put somebody up on the sign. And again, I would favor cash all day long over trade credits, but because both of those are preemptable then it's really not a long-term fix, and then that brings in the final two. Rotary and public service. Now, with the rotary, that's gonna mandate you have other signs, and not everyone has other signs. And the very act of moving a sign from one sign to another, it's difficult. So in a rotary, what you have is you have a mixture of signs, maybe two, maybe four, and what you do is you would have four advertisers and they would swap signs, let's say every three months. So every quarter they would have a different sign. The beauty of that is it gives them for their dollar, not one but four different spots, and many advertisers find that very appealing.
But the problem is you have add all that additional cost of moving them from one spot to the next. And public service is your last choice. With public service, what you're doing is you are basically going out there and putting people up simply for the tax advantages, and the tax advantages are not really what you wanna be... You don't wanna be writing off ad space simply to get tax advantages, that's not a beneficial thing to do. The bottom line to it all is, those are the 10 steps to renting any vacant sign, and I've never found that any sign could not be rented. If you employ those 10 steps proactively, it's hard to imagine that any sign can not find its best and rightful occupant because everyone needs billboards. Everyone needs advertising, it's just a matter of cost. And really like a matchmaker, finding the advertiser that best fits that sign. This is Frank Rolfe for the Billboard Mastery podcast. Hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.