A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

Billboard advertising can be very effective if it’s the right fit for your business and if it has been designed to be viewed by users traveling at high speeds. Because the billboard spot itself can be pricey, small businesses often can’t afford to also have a professional marketer do the design. Luckily, best practices for billboard design are easy to find on the internet via a simple Google search. Alternatively, you can study billboards on your next road trip. My most recent road trip through South Dakota had me doing just that, and here are some of my thoughts:

One town I drove through featured two billboards that seven or eight businesses went in on together. This is a creative solution to the cost of billboard advertising, and having two signs for repetition was another smart move. Unfortunately, both billboards were located about 150 feet off of the highway, and the business names were so small that it was almost impossible to read them all while driving the speed limit. This approach to collaborative outdoor advertising might be better for a billboard or sign located in a high-walking traffic area, so potential customers have time to stop and read each business name.

You won’t drive across South Dakota without knowing about Wall Drug and its 5-cent coffee or 6-foot rabbit. It’s evident that this company has a larger budget than most of us, but it uses it well by implementing catchy colors, minimal words, images and a clear business name. Additionally, it keeps these billboards looking new rather than leaving up ones that have faded over the years. Overall, Wall Drug is just a great example of leveraging this marketing piece to get the most bang for your buck.

Outdoor advertising might not be a good fit for your business -- or within your budget -- but clearly you need to market your business in some fashion. That might be social media, traditional sources (newspaper, radio and television), signage on your business or vehicle, or face-to-face with your potential customers.

If you are an entrepreneur interested in working on your marketing strategy, contact your local Wyoming SBDC Network adviser at www.wyomingsbdc.org for no-cost, confidential assistance.

The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their businesses. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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