Website owners often get the idea stuck in their heads that they should run out and buy billboards and magazine ads to get traffic to their new website.
I’m not sure if this is because they are used to seeing billboards everywhere — or if it’s really a subconscious thing for them to feel like “they’ve finally made it,” but 99% of the time this is not where they should be focusing their initial (and limited) marketing dollars if their goal is to get traffic.
Billboards and print advertising are expensive, nearly impossible to update quickly, limit you geographically and are absolutely inefficient when it comes to targeting and capturing your audience. And that’s not even the shittiest part.
Because they are legitimately expensive to produce, you’ll likely get locked into some sort of a multi-month (or annual) contract for a promotional medium that is more about your ego than it is results.
Here is an easy way to remember how to use them:
Digital Advertising = Click-Thrus, Conversions and Sales.
Billboards and Print Advertising = Branding, Awareness and Cool Factor.
Billboards and print advertising can have a positive promotional value towards your overall brand. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve — as long as it isn’t traffic to your website, billboards can easily serve as a part of a larger smart strategy. The key is to know what that strategy is.
Below are a couple of case examples to help that make sense.
[For additional information on using billboards for indirect and strategic branding, check out Step 3 in the StartupStud.com guide of How To Amplify Your Website’s Initial Success.]
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
– Winston Churchill
An Example Of When To Use Digital Advertising:
StartupStud.com launched in July 2015 and is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. My target audience for this site is English speaking digital entrepreneurs of any age and who aren’t tied to any specific location.
If my marketing budget is $1,500 a month, this means I can divide $50 a day between mediums like Facebook, Ad Words, Redirect Traffic and others to see what actually gets people to this site and signing up for the newsletter (speaking of which, you should do that at the bottom of this article!).
I can test a variety of campaigns for as little as $5 and then easily change them based on how the response was. There aren’t any contracts and I’m not limited to any one location for my ads. As I find what works, I’ll simply plug a lot more money into it and monitor if the results continue to scale.
An Example Of When To Use Billboards:
When we launched Blackout Artist Management in July 2013, we needed to establish ourselves as a force to be reckoned with and to make sure that Las Vegas nightlife booking managers knew that we were someone they needed to keep in their toolbox.
As a part of a larger branding strategy, we invested $1,500 a month for three months into digital billboards throughout Las Vegas, targeting the areas where we knew the right people lived, drove by on the way to work or would see while they were stuck in traffic.
It wasn’t about getting anyone to BlackoutArtist.com — we couldn’t have cared less about that, it was about having the right people remember Blackout Artist the brand when it came time to schedule a meeting (and to get something out of the meeting!).
Notice the difference in purpose between StartupStud.com and Blackout Artist Management’s promotional campaigns?
I’ve been on my share of billboards over the years and would be the first to admit it’s a little fun to have your buddies call and say “dude! I just saw you on a billboard!”
If I just wanted to feel cool, I’d probably buy a whole lot of billboard space, sit back with a drink in my hand and tell myself how totally important I think I am.
Unfortunately, feeling important doesn’t get traffic to your new website. I’ve never once seen an uptick in traffic analytics because of any billboard that was up. Ever. It’s never happened. If you buy billboards, you’ll almost certainly get little or no traffic out of it.
If you want results, forget your ego and stick with what works! – JC