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Outdoor advertising - making a big impact


Outdoor advertising on billboards, bus stops, in taxis and at train stations is well within the budget of most small businesses and can be highly effective. Rachel Miller finds out how small firms can make an impact with outdoor advertising

If you walk around your local area — whether you’re based in a big city or a small town, you’ll soon spot just how many opportunities there are to get your business noticed. There are outdoor advertising spaces wherever you look — on phone boxes, at bus stops, in bus and train stations, on poster sites, in shopping centres and even at your local gym.

For any small firm with a local clientele, outdoor advertising offers the chance to spread the word about your business to your target market — local people.

Poster advertising is ideal for small businesses because you can target geographically. So a fish and chip shop situated off the high street could advertise at a bus stop directing people to the shop. Or a small taxi firm could advertise outside a train or bus station. You can target the right audience when and where they might need your services.

Affordable advertising

Many small firms don’t explore the idea of outdoor advertising because they think it’s out of their league. In fact, many people don’t realise how cost-effective it is — because big brands use it, they assume it’s too expensive.

In fact, it’s an affordable medium for almost every firm. The average cost of outdoor advertising is around £200 per week for a standard 48 sheet billboard. An ad on the side of a bus stop on a busy high street could cost about £300 for two weeks’ exposure.

Effective outdoor advertising

So what makes a good outdoor ad? There are certain rules when it comes to creativity — the message should be concise, unlike a press ad. Eight words maximum is a good rule of thumb. It’s also good to use a picture of a person as people are drawn to eyes. Humour usually gets a good response.

That said, small firms don’t have to be super-creative. If you’re a plumber, that is what you do, just give the information and you will get a good response.

If you want to raise awareness, then the more sites the better. But if it’s directional, you can be more tactical with a few well-positioned ads. Stations are a great option because they offer more dwell time than other sites.

Examples of small businesses using outdoor advertising


H2O, a car valeting service in the Midlands, put their business up on one huge 96-sheet billboard in the centre of Birmingham. Within a week, they had new customers lining up to have their cars washed.

Light House

Eaton Curtains

Eaton Curtains used outdoor advertising and picked a 48-sheet billboard on a busy roundabout. As a result, they saw a significant increase in website traffic.

Light House

Light House used outdoor advertising to promote local awareness of their moving image exhibitions in Wolverhampton, West Midlands. They strategically targeted a high-profile 48-sheet billboard close to their venue.

The Princess Alice Hospice

The Princess Alice Hospice used their first billboard campaign to recruit large numbers of walkers for the charity’s Midnight Walk fundraising event in September 2009. Walker numbers increased on the previous year by 34%. The campaign included a site at Twickenham Station which was seen by almost 200,000 people. Julie Thomas, community and event manager at Princess Alice Hospice, said: "Being able to hand-select the advertising sites we wanted, we could maximise the value of the budget. We were very pleased with how billboards succeeded in getting our message out there."