AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerWhy I Love Billboards

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Why I Love Billboards

Billboards should have no more than 9 words. That includes all the required language. Why? It is simple: you only have seconds to read a billboard, so it must be short.20170226_113252

If you can’t say your message in 5-6 words and then list your company name, you should not use a billboard. I love billboards because they are the Vine of print—they’re short, quick and pack a powerful punch. Sometimes the name of the company says it all, like “Family Beer & Liquor.” It says, “the family that drinks together, stays together” without saying it.

A couple of other things about billboards:

  • Vinyl fades in the sunlight. Don’t use light colors that will appear to fade faster. Also, don’t leave a vinyl up for too long and ignore it.
  • Digital billboards are not the same optics as vinyl or paper boards. Treat the different media outlets differently in terms of color and contrast.
  • Digital billboard is a big TV screen. You can see different colors better at different times of day depending on the light, so change up your message from day to afternoon to night.
  • Put a face on a billboard, not the person’s body. If the face is too small, it will never been seen or recognized. I always feel people are selling clothing when they put people in their billboards—big shirts, small faces.
  • Do the across-the-room test. Print out your billboard and put it on the wall across the room. Anything you can’t read will not be read by the driving public, so take it off the board.

Billboards are a very old advertising medium. Yet they are as relevant today as they were when the first humans scratched “MacDonald’s Next Exit” on a rock on a trail for the bathroom-deprived traveling public.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.