5 Tips For Great Billboard Advertising Copy

November 20, 2020

5 Tips For Great Billboard Advertising Copy

Ah, yes, the billboard. Possibly the most tricky thing to design! Hi, I’m Sara and I’m a graphic designer here at Bottom Line Marketing!

Billboards can be very effective in promoting your business because of the number of impressions people get while on the road. However, what you chose to put on your billboard can make or break your reach. Here are five tips to creating a successful billboard:

What Is Your Focus?

The next time you are driving past a billboard, take notice of what you notice. Did you see the brand’s logo? Their phone number? A picture? The message? I think one of the biggest mistakes people make in billboard advertising is providing too much information. Although this is a large space, it might be one of the shortest looked at ads you can create.

As a driver, you are probably only glancing up from the road for 3-5 seconds (hopefully). Unless you are one of those cool people with a photographic memory that can file that bad boy away for later, you are probably only going to get ONE thing out of that advertisement, so you have to make that one thing count so people remember you later.

If you are purchasing billboard ad space, the question you need to ask yourself is: if I am driving up to 70+ mph, what is the ONE thing I want people to take away from this message?

Keep It Short! 7 Words Or Less
After you have decided on what you are wanting to focus on, we have to break it down into its simplest and most clever form. The rule of thumb for billboards is to have 7 total words or less of copy on your ad. This not only leaves space for your logo or product to be featured but it also is short enough for people to read as they are driving past.

If your message is promoting your brand, maybe your billboard only needs your logo with a few words to accompany, like this billboard below:

If it’s a product you want to promote, let it speak for itself!

Grabbing someone’s attention by showing off an item with your logo next to it is a great way to say a lot without saying a lot. Take the billboard below as an example. There are 3 words and a big ring as the center focal point. From this, I can easily identify Mountz Jewelers name and know that they sell jewelry, more specifically engagement rings.

If you have a clever and memorable message to share, let that be the main feature like the billboards below.

Now that’s not to say every billboard you ever create needs to be ground breakingly clever, but it certainly needs to be short enough to read in under 5 seconds.

Your Logo Is Your Most Important Point of Contact

Because you are so limited on copy on your billboard, providing a phone number, website, or address is not going to do you any favors unless of course that is your only message.

Even so, asking someone to memorize your phone number or website is a big ask. I mean, how many billboard phone numbers have you remembered? My wager is that it is pretty low. In 2009, the Arbitron National In-Car Study conducted a survey reporting that only 26% of viewers noted a phone number or website while passing a billboard. And “noted” is certainly different than remembered.

Keep in mind that this is the smartphone age. If your logo is nice and big and you keep your billboard clean and simple, people are going to have time to remember your name so they can look you up when they are not driving. Don’t waste your valuable space with information that may not even be remembered and could even detract someone from seeing what you wanted them to see.

My advice would be to keep your logo big and leave the rest on the sideline.

Choose Your Imagery Wisely
When we are talking photos, I cannot stress this enough, keep them simple. The more detailed of a photo you have with a ton going on, the longer it takes for someone to process what they are seeing and by that point they have not only missed your message but also your logo!

A nice photo of the product on a solid background works great. When something is more isolated from its surroundings it is much easier to recognize. Make sure you make your photos easy on the eyes and save the more complex imagery for your website or social media pages.

Test It Out
And we have arrived at our final billboard tip, test it out! When you receive a proof of your board, show it to other people that have never seen it before. Don’t tell them what they are supposed to see beforehand or what your message is

Just bring it up and count down from 5 in your head. Then take the image away from them and ask them what they saw. If they report back that they saw exactly what you had hoped they would, success!

If they were distracted by something or confused by your message, it might be time to step back and take another stab at it.

The Bottom Line: Billboards are a DOOZY and can make your brain hurt a little. But the bottom line is, when you find that message and know that you can drive your point home efficiently, billboards are a really effective and clever way to get your name out there.