Sunday mornings are for sleeping in – well, at least sleeping in until 7 a.m.

On a recent Sunday morning, the cell phone starting that binging noise, one after another around 6 a.m. Wondering who would be sending multiple text messages to me at such an early hour, I looked to discover it was a group message from two other moms, who had sons on my son’s basketball team.

Turns out my 16-year-old son and two of his teammates would be arriving in Yoncalla, Ore. at 8 a.m. – not 3 p.m. like we had originally thought. And since the other mom had driven the boys down there, it was my turn to pick them up. By the time, we had learned what was happening – their basketball coach had decided to leave Las Vegas where they were in a tournament and drive all night – it was 7 a.m. when I left Silverton – without enough time to eat or brew coffee.

The drive from Silverton to Yoncalla is about two hours long and 120 miles on Interstate 5. I don’t mind driving – I just wasn’t too excited about going down and turning around.

The drive to Silverton to Eugene was fine but as soon as I drove past Eugene I realized I need coffee. So I started noticing billboards– hoping for a “sign” there was coffee down the road.

The more I looked at the billboard signs the more I realized there are some that work well – and some that fail. More often that not, I was disappointed with the billboards I saw. On the way down to Yoncalla, I had the radio blaring. On the way home, I had three exhausted teenage boys in the car – so reading billboards was a way to keep awake and focused.

Here’s a few notes:

Location, location, location.

  • Second Worst location: As I was driving South on I-5 I saw a sign for George Fox Football, just past Eugene. Last time I checked, George Fox University in Newberg, which is north of where the sign was. The idea of the billboard is to lead the client to your location. A billboard in the wrong spot only confuses the client.
  • Absolute worst location: There was a billboard for Dutch Bros. Coffee that said next exit. So I get off at the next exit, cannot find it anywhere. Pull into the local gas station, ask the nice attendant and he tells me, “Oh, it’s up the road another exit or so. About 8 miles further.” And when I apologized for his time, he told me, “It happens all the time. People see the sign and pull in here because they think it’s here.”
  • Best location: There was a huge sign on a building advertising an adult sex shop. Then, right above it was a billboard advertising how men can break their addiction to pornography. Clever. And funny.

Billboards with pictures of food.

  • There is an art to taking photographs of food. After driving up and back I-5 in five hours, I decided I could start a new diet club – just have people look at billboards with food and you would never want to eat again. All the photographs made the food like it was cooked in the 1960s and sitting on the shelf just as long. Best pictures of food are simple – an apple, a bunch of grapes, oranges… or just state your company’s name and you have the best scones for miles around.

Keep it simple

The best billboards have a quick and clever message. The worst are the ones that try to tell the company’s history. When using billboards to advertise, keep in mind your client is cruising somewhere with the goal of getting there quick. A billboard should catch your potential customer’s attention and be memorable. Think of billboards like a Tweet – you want to communicate in the least amount of words in a memorable way.

Colors, font size and font type

When words are too small or the font is too challenging to read, your potential client is going to get frustrated and not waste his or her time even trying to read your billboard or she’ll be down the road before she figures out the first word. We advise our clients to use simple font styles, large type and welcoming, warm colors. Too often, there is too much reverse type – white – on billboards which is difficult to read.

And you think using a billboard to advertise is a good idea.

At Oregon Marketing Group, we will be honest with you. If you come to us and say you want to advertise for your pizza parlor in Portland near Eugene, we will tell you it’s a terrible idea. Same goes true if you want to advertise for certain services or businesses.

At Oregon Marketing Group, we know what works and what doesn’t. And if you need proof, just take a drive with us and we’ll show you billboards that effectively communicate the business’ message. And ones that leave us wondering.

 

 

 

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