Technology is boosting marketing practices in amazing ways, but outdoor advertising is remaining as strong as ever. Creating a successful billboard is slightly more complicated than just drawing the idea on a napkin and getting it made, but it’s something that’s within the budget of most companies.

Follow the steps and inspiration on this list, and you’re likely to boost your business by building a billboard.

Define the Goals

As with any marketing strategy, don’t just make a billboard for the sake of doing it. You need to decide what you want to get out of your campaign, and then you’ll be able to think of the ideas that will accomplish that. Some billboards advertise a promotion, others announce a new product, and many simply remind consumers of your brand. The respective goal for each of those could be to get customers into the store soon, educate them that there’s a new product available, or just make sure your company is fresh in their mind next time they need to make a buying decision.

Billboard Ideas

Puerto Rico Billboard Ideas

Do Some Market Analysis

One of the key aspects of creating a billboard is location. For example, a busy road into an urban center will be seen by many commuters, and one at the entrance to a shopping center will carry a message to customers about to spend money. You can get quite detailed information about how many people will pass by your sign on a daily basis, and thinking about the area where they’re going will help you determine their demographics.

Define the Target Group

Coming up with the appropriate target group is quite similar to setting the goals of the billboard. Outdoor advertising will usually be seen by a variety of people from different backgrounds in various demographic groups, but it’s a good idea to target it to someone more specific. People in a different age group or income level generally have different interests, and speaking successfully to one group is a much better idea than falling short of all of them.

A billboard for the Chevy Malibu used software recognition to identify drivers of similar cars, and tell them why this one is better. This is an extreme example, but it shows how the creators were only targeting groups that were interested in certain vehicles.

Craft the Message

Once you know the goal, target, and location of the billboard, you need to figure out the exact message you want to say. Billboards generally need to be simple and straightforward, so trying to get more than one message across usually won’t work. Don’t tell your customers that your store now has a new brand of shirts, and that children’s clothes are on sale. Pick only one, and stick to it – otherwise, they won’t hear either of them.

Make It Part of a Bigger Campaign

Billboards can stand alone, but they’re generally more impactful when combined with a whole campaign. It’s a good idea to use them to reinforce ads given online, on TV, or through some other advertising medium.

Xbox once made a “Survival Billboard” to advertise a new video game, but it was part of a competition that was streamed online. Even though the sign itself wasn’t physically viewed by a ton of people, it was part of something bigger – and it worked.

Survival Billboard

Coughing Billboard

Get Creative

Once you know what your sign should say, you need to think of a clever way of communicating that. Don’t be afraid to outsource this part if you’re too close it, but also don’t be afraid to keep it in house if you have a great idea. It won’t be as noticeable if it looks like all signs advertising something similar, but if it does it in a unique way (like this anti-smoking billboard), people will really engage with it.

Keep it Simple!

One thing to remember about a billboard is that people usually see it as their going past (often while driving a car), so they only have a few seconds to take it all in. You should use as few words as possible (try to keep it under 6 or 7), and don’t put anything on it that’s unnecessary. Even your logo doesn’t need to be included every time.

Avoid Gimmicks Just to Be Talked About

It’s easy to create a silly billboard that people will notice, but it’s worthless if it isn’t your target audience talking about the message you want them to hear. Reebok recently made a running billboard that’s a good example of successfully using an unusual idea. It wasn’t just a gimmick because it appealed to the competitive nature of its target group, and it followed their new brand concept of pushing yourself to Be More Human.

Think Outside the Sign

As technology and billboards are getting better, they don’t have to be just a sign. They can use technology to let people play along (like this McDonald’s video game) go to dramatic lengths to highlight a problem (like this mosquito billboard), or even help people out (like this sign that gave drivers a safe place to rest).

Reebok Billboard Are you Fast Enough?

Measure, Analyze, and Repeat

As with all marketing and advertising, you should measure the results and see how well it worked. Plan to continuously update your strategy to match your business goals, and don’t be afraid to reuse the successful elements of your campaigns.