The A-Z Billboard Copywriting Guide

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You see them everywhere.

They’re along highways, city roads, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere.

What am I talking about?


While it’s believed that 80% of advertising will be completely automated and mostly digital by 2022, that doesn’t mean old-school approaches don’t work.

Most people commute to work and get out of the house every day.

If you place a billboard in these high-traffic areas, they absolutely can drive brand awareness and sales.

Follow along as I teach you how to maximize billboard advertising campaigns, write billboard copy, and more.

What is Billboard Advertising?

Billboard advertising is the strategy of renting space on a billboard, typically for a monthly fee, to promote a business.

As I will be discussing later, the costs of billboard advertising depend on the size of the billboard, location, and other factors.

It’s typically a higher budget strategy because it can run businesses five figures per month to keep a billboard ad running.

The end result looks something like this:

Billboard advertising example

Imagine how many people will drive by a billboard like this. You could be reaching thousands or more people per day!

This brings me to my next point.

What is Billboard Copywriting?

Naturally, that brings us to the most important component of a billboard which is the sales copy.

Billboard copywriting is the strategy and science of writing billboard ads that get attention and drive action.

The components of sales copy on a billboard typically consist of:

  • A headline that pattern interrupts.
  • An optional subhead that elaborates.
  • The main message of the billboard.
  • A call to action.
  • Branding and relevant images.

Billboard Advertising Advantages

There are many advantages of billboard advertising you should be aware of before investing in this strategy.

Despite the rise of digital advertising, you’ll find the benefits are still amazing.

The sheer amount of traffic is unavoidable

Imagine a billboard placed in Times Square. How many people do you think will see that ad on a daily basis?

Well, it’s estimated that 330,000 people pass through this area every day so let’s do the math.

If 1% of those people converted into customers, that would equal to 3,300 new clients!

Obviously, that’s an insane number, but even if it’s much lower it would still generate an incredible amount of business.

If you place a billboard in the right location, that’s one of the greatest advantages. People are constantly commuting to work, school, and other places, and it’s unavoidable to miss them.

It’s much simpler than digital advertising

I’m not saying that billboard advertising doesn’t take as much knowledge or skill as its digital counterpart, but it is a lot simpler in nature.

You don’t have to worry about CPC, SEO keywords, re-targeting audiences, and heaps of other metrics.

Heck, the dashboards on some of the advertising platforms practically look like a cockpit!

With a physical billboard, all you need to do is figure out where you need it, contact the correct person, and get the design ready.

The process from start to finish is much simpler than digital advertising, which I believe a lot of you reading this will appreciate.

Technology is Bleeding into Billboards

Not every billboard is a boring ad sitting on the side of a highway.

You can place a digital ad on the side of vehicles now, for example. Check out this video of a moving advertisement on a truck to see what I mean:

It doesn’t have to be a digital ad, though.

You could pay a company to place your advertisement on the side of their vehicles or do the same for trucks you own.

Billboard Advertising Disadvantages

As great as billboard marketing can be, there are some downsides you need to know about. These include the following.

People Are SICK of Seeing Ads

I’m just speaking for myself, but damn I hate seeing constant ads.

It almost makes me purposely not want to engage with a business when an advertisement is so invasive.

On the flip side, if I really needed the service it would be a different story.

Consider for a moment that the average American is exposed to roughly 4,000 to 10,000 ads every single day.

The worst part is they probably can’t even recall a single one. It’s brain overload.

What’s that old saying? One bad apple ruins the bunch?

Yeah, that applies here. Some businesses are so in-your-face with advertising that it can spoil it for the rest of us.

However, at the end of the day, billboards still work which is why companies continue to invest in them.

The Costs Can be Bigger Than The Billboard Itself

Are billboards expensive?

You could say that.

It’s not uncommon for companies to pay tens of thousands of dollars every month to have a billboard in a prime location.

Even smaller billboards will run you a couple of thousand dollars per month on average.

Going this route of advertising is not for small-budget businesses, and takes decent capital to see results.

It’s Difficult to Track Performance

Think about Facebook or Google ads for a moment. When you invest in PPC campaigns, you can track every single little detail.

You will know exactly how much you’re spending, who’s clicking the ads, when they’re clicking the ads, and more.

You don’t get that privilege with billboard advertising.

One of the only ways to determine how effective billboards are is by analyzing performance before and after it’s used.

Additionally, you can create a funnel in which customers are asked how they found your business.

If they claim that they saw one of your billboards, then you know it’s working.

Billboard Advertising Cost

Billboard advertising rates change slightly depending on the company you work with, where the ad is being placed, and the type of billboard used.

BlueLine Media is a billboard advertising company, and these are their rates as a benchmark:

Billboard advertising rates
  • Bulletin: $1,500-30,000 per location per four weeks.
  • 30 sheet poster: $750-2,000 per location per four weeks.
  • Junior poster: $300-$750 per location per four weeks.
  • Digital/LED bulletin: $3,500-25,000 per location per four weeks for an ~8-second spot looped for ~64 seconds.

The smaller and simpler the billboard is, the less you will have to pay.

I would recommend starting small and building upwards if possible.

You could create a split test to see if the copy, design, and location of a billboard are driving results and scale up if so.

Billboard Advertising Effectiveness

Are billboards effective? I decided to research this myself and find case studies on successful billboard campaigns.

Here’s what I found.

Lamar Advertising and Nissan

Grand Blanc Nissan is a Nissan car dealership in Flint, Michigan. Upon opening up their new location, they needed help reaching more customers.

They worked with Lamar Advertising to have a billboard campaign launched to drive traffic.

Lamar’s team created ten bulletin-style billboard ads which were placed on main highways and inner city streets.

By the end of the campaign, they were able to generate 509 calls, more website views, and 202 responses to the campaign’s coupon.

Billboard Copywriting Takeaways:

  • Have a clear target audience, budget, and plan for every billboard campaign.
  • Use several different ads to determine which one delivers the best results.
  • Place billboards in high traffic areas to get them seen.

Signpatico and Cornwall Centre

With the rise of user generated content, it should be no surprise that we’re seeing billboards and new marketing strategies clash.

In fact, UGC is trusted and more effective than traditional advertising.

UGC trust
Source: Awario

But would if you could mix them together…

And that’s exactly what Signpatico did when working with their client Cornwall Centre.

The campaign began with an Instagram contest where users could enter for a chance to win $1,000 and be featured on a billboard.

Users had to post a picture of something they purchased at Cornwall Centre with the hashtag #GetItAtCornwall.

Hashtag example

The winner’s Instagram post was featured on one of the billboards used later, and Cornwall exceeded KPI goals by 28%!

Billboard Copywriting Takeaways:

  • Integrate user generated content into your campaign to promote engagement.
  • Use social media to further enhance the performance a billboard campaign.

Goa and Nova’s Street Music Party

The advertising company Goa and radio station Nova 106.9 partnered up together in 2015 to promote Nova via a live music party.

They used a mix of digital billboards, live radio, and user generated content to advertise the event.

Their billboards popped with a bright red background and sharp white text.

Nova Insta Party

Note how the Instagram hashtag was placed on the billboard for people to check out, and the location and time was clearly stated.

A total of five pop-up concerts were held and over 450 photos were submitted with the branded hashtag.

This campaign also won the Best Multimedia Execution award, making it a raging success.

Billboard Copywriting Takeaways:

  • Use bold and interesting colors to grab peoples attention.
  • Only include necessary information on the billboard.
  • Take advantage of several marketing channels at once including a billboard to maximize campaign results.

Billboard Marketing Best Practices

Now that you’re hyped up to start a billboard campaign, let’s talk about how to properly execute one.

Just like anything else on business, you need a plan of action to drive great performance.

Jumping in head first without concrete strategies will result in lost capital and time.

Let’s avoid that by ensuring you follow the below best practices for billboard marketing.

Write Amazing Billboard Copy

Many would argue that copy is the most important element of any advertisement.

I agree.

Great sales copy captures the reader’s attention, draws out emotion, and makes them take action.

Bad sales copy bores people and makes them yawn.

Furthermore, the text on a billboard is 90% of the ad. An image needs to accompany it, but without writing, it wouldn’t achieve anything.

Try using the following copywriting strategies to enhance the effectiveness of a billboard:

  • Features versus benefits: Elaborate on how the product or service will benefit the customer. This is typically in the form of an emotional, financial, or health gain.
  • Call to action: Make a clear statement telling readers of the billboard what to do next. This might be to call your business, visit a physical location, or log onto a website, for example.
  • Keep it short: If someone is driving down the highway, they don’t have time to read an ad the length of a novel. Use short and snappy sentences to get points across faster.

Use an Image That Relates to The Customer’s Experience

Claude Hopkins, one of the world’s most famous copywriters, once said that images act as sales people whether you realize it or not.

An image can instantly bring out emotions, especially when it pertains to your experience.

This is precisely why advertisers need to strategically use photos on billboards that relate to the customer.

Let’s imagine for a second that we are a company that helps people get out of debt.

Being in debt can be a very stressful and emotional situation which creates two opportunities for the use of an image on a billboard:

  1. An image could be used of a person looking stressed, as this can make the customer feel further emotions and enticed to take action to resolve their situation. Note how it relates to what they’re currently feeling.
  2. A photo of a happy individual can have a similar but opposite effect in which the customer subconsciously believes they will be that joyful after getting out of debt.

The general idea is using an image that either mirrors the customer’s experience or shows them what life would look like after working with you.

Place it in The Correct Location

If you’re trying to reach Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with a billboard but you place it in the middle of Ohio, not much will happen.

That’s why it’s crucial you study the city and neighborhoods where you wish to place a billboard to make sure the population suits the right demographics.

Otherwise you’re taking what is known as the shotgun approach, which means that you advertise to a ton of random people in hopes some stick.

Instead, you want to be a sniper.

Maybe you have to place your billboard in lower traffic area, but the demographics suit your buyers persona better.

Do that instead.

You could potentially experience a higher conversion rate since the people seeing the ad actually need your product or service.

Final Thoughts on Billboard Copywriting and Advertising

I believe billboard advertising is here to stay.

Sure, digital ads are quickly on the rise, but they’re integrating with old school billboards at the same time.

They can be a very effective channel for increasing brand awareness and sales, but you have to execute it correctly.

However, you need excellent billboard copywriting for the best results.

Here are the main takeaways from today’s article:

  • The advantages of billboards are the volume of readers, simplicity, and versatility.
  • The disadvantages of billboards are the costs, consumers being exposed to too many ads, and lack of tracking.
  • The cost of billboard advertising depends mostly on location and the size of the board.
  • Write copy that captivates a specific audience and gets them to take action.
  • Use an image that strategically relates to the reader’s experience.
  • Study the demographics of different locations to ensure they match your buyer’s persona.

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