Billboard Mastery Podcast: Episode 29

Reinforcement After The Sale

Advertisers are the life’s blood of your billboard investment, yet too many sign owners take them for granted after the sale. In this Billboard Mastery podcast we’re going to review the methods smart sign owners use to make the advertise feel properly appreciated each and every day so they are more likely to renew when their lease comes up, and to feel they have a good value when they write that monthly check.

Episode 29: Reinforcement After The Sale Transcript

A happy advertiser is one who pays on time, a happy advertiser is someone who renews over and over again. A happy advertiser is someone who tells other businesses, "Yes, this sign works for me. I recommend that you get one, too." But how do we make sure that an advertiser after you put them on your sign remains happy? This is Frank Rolfe the Billboard Mastery Podcast, we're gonna be talking all about reinforcement after the sale, affirming to the advertiser that they made the right decision day in and day out. So how do you do that? How do you make an advertiser feel that they made a good choice after renting the sign from you? Well, here are some thoughts. Number one, make sure that their phone rings, make sure that the customers come in, because the happiest advertiser in a billboard is one where they get constant feedback from customers that people are seeing the ad and they're coming in and buying their merchandise, they're coming in and buying their services. How do you do that? Make sure you only create and install great ads. Often the advertiser is looking to you as the professional to help guide them in putting together the correct ad.

Don't let them down. You see, sometimes the advertiser has no clue what they're doing, and you can sometimes get lazy and produce an ad that they will agree to you, but that clearly should never be put up. What do those ads look like? I know you've seen them. Words that are too small. Too many words. Terrible graphics. Very poor color choice. All the things that you do when you drive by a sign and say, "Oh gosh, that's a terrible looking at Billboard." Sometimes if you get lazy, that's what you end up doing. The advertiser tells you, "Well, I wanna put 75 words on the sign," and rather than fight them and say, "No, no, that's too many, let's see if we can narrow that down," you say, "Well, okay, if that's what you want." Then you go to the designer to have them put the ad together and they say, "Oh, this sign is terrible, this is a terrible ad, and you say, "Well, that's what the advertiser wanted, so, well, what the heck?" So what then happens? You put up the terrible ad and of course they get no feedback at all. No one comes by, no one calls. However then you get some feedback, all their friends and neighbors say, "Man, your billboard is terrible, it's worst looking billboard I ever saw, who in the world would ever be dumb enough to put that up?"

Now, do you think you have a happy customer? No, customer is not happy. What happens when the customer is not happy? They don't pay, they don't renew, they don't say good things, it's not good. So rule number one is make sure that the ad that you install is great, that you truly believe that that ad will work for that advertiser. Number two, it's not a bad idea to give the advertiser a little miniature sign, a little miniature of their billboard on a little stand. You can find these online to buy, they come in a metal variety, plastic variety. I know you've seen them, you typically see them on the book shelves of many advertisers, go into any McDonald's franchises office, there is a little mini billboard. Why do people do that? Well, because if you can get the advertiser to start feeling proud of that sign, at some point in the movie, they start thinking of that sign as being just an extension of their business.

No one does that with magazine ads, newspaper ads, online ads, they come, they go, no big deal. But for some reason, businesses can start to feel that that physical sign that's there day in, day out, becomes an important part of their business, of their psyche. When you have the little miniature side and they see it all the time, they start to think, "Oh gosh, when it comes up for renewal, I don't wanna lose that. If I lose that, then heck, might really damage my business. I better just keep it going." I was called at an advertiser, it was a sign at interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth. And it was for Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. And the billboard read, "Carlsbad Caverns, U-turn, go back... " I think it was 400-600 miles. That made absolutely no sense. Why would anyone put a billboard up that says Carlsbad Caverns, U-turn, go back like 600 miles.

Totally inappropriate. Why wouldn't you get a sign at least going in the same direction of your business? So I called Carlsbad Caverns to say, "Hey, you wanna move that ad over to my billboard? I could do it cheaper than what you're paying," and I got ahold of the marketing department and I said, "Hey, I've got a sign across the street," and they said, "No, no, no, you do understand, the guy that owns Carlsbad Caverns, he thinks of that side as being just something that we can't ever touch. We gotta keep it." So he become so accustomed to that sign being an extension of Carlsbad Caverns that it didn't matter what you had to offer, where your sign was, gosh, darn he was gonna renew that same sign year after year after year.

Why? Because he'd always done it, and that's a great position to be in if you are the billboard company. Finally, if you wanna have a happy advertiser who pays and does everything else, you've gotta make sure that their lights work, you've gotta make sure that the ad is intact. Because here's the problem, they don't see their billboard very frequently. Some of these advertisers, unless they live in that direction and pass by the sign going to their business, going home each day, they're never gonna drive by it hardly ever. And when they do in that rare occurrence, when they one day say, "Hey, let's go drive by that billboard," or they say, "Oh, okay, let's go to the mall," and it just happens when you go to the mall to go by the billboard, if they go by that billboard and their advertising vinyl has been ripped, or the light bulb is out, then they're no longer gonna be a happy customer. That is a very much...

Number one way you can lose a customer after the sale is for them to start having suspicions that you're not maintaining the billboard. You see, the other problem is they have to drive it all the time to check on it, that infuriates them. All that extra driving to go check on the sign, they think, "Man, you'd think for the amount I'm paying I'd get better service than that," and they no longer really trust the relationship, so how do you save that? Well, you need to periodically, probably at least once a month, go out and make sure those lights are turned on. Now, there's two ways you can fail this. Number one, if a light bulb goes out and the other is if the time clock itself goes out and the lights don't come on at all, or you failed to reset them for daylight savings time. So you need to make sure that all those light bulbs are on and that your sign is on at night. As far as damage on the vinyl, if you see in the news on the weather map an extreme storm that has occurred near that sign, even if it's the day after you drove it to check the lights and lights were working perfectly, you need to go out and check it to make sure it wasn't damaged in the storm.

Now, that's a lot of driving you might say, that's a big pain in the rear, so here's another idea for you. Find a business that's located near to the sign, one that you can see the sign right out the window, preferably. Might be a Burger King, might be a gas station, get the phone number for that business, and after the storm, you can call immediately that Burger King and say, can you look at the window and see if my billboard is still standing as a favor? They'll do that, they won't even charge you for it. That way you can move quickly, swiftly to check on ever sign without having to physically jump in your car and go. The bottom line to it all is we've all gotta keep advertisers happy. Nothing good comes to the billboard business when the advertiser does not feel they're getting their money's worth, or when they start to lose trust in your abilities as the sign company, particularly if they start losing trust that the ad itself is even bringing in any customers or even paying for itself. If you wanna reinforce after the sale and perpetuate the happiness of the advertiser, it takes some strategy, it takes some effort, but it's all worth it. This is Frank Rolfe for Billboard Mastery Podcast. I hope you enjoyed this. Talk to you again soon.