Five Things Not to Do in Healthcare Outdoor Advertising

Smart marketers understand the strengths of advertising channels and use that knowledge to leverage tactics such as outdoor advertising to their utmost advantage.

Take Coca Cola, for example. Their “Yes Girl” design won the Outdoor Advertising Association of America’s Best in Show award in 1942 with one word, an image and a logo. Three elements were combined to create a powerful top-of-mind message.

Top-of-mind awareness is one of two goals, ideally, to be established for outdoor as a tactic for advertising. It’s a better investment of your marketing dollar to use outdoor as a support medium, in conjunction with a more robust, integrated campaign. This may sound like Marketing 101 to some of you, but you would be surprised at how much information gets crammed into many outdoor boards.

The second objective to use as a filter for your outdoor advertising is a strong call-to-action – to get someone to do something. When outdoor boards are used as support for other tactics in market, they can serve as reinforcements, or touchpoints, of campaign messaging your audience has previously seen.

I usually prefer to use more positive approach (and verbiage) in tips and lists, but I think a Do Not list is more impactful in some instances. We’ve developed this Do Not list at the agency as a result of creating thousands of outdoor boards for clients. Admittedly, there is some creative that will never see the light of day, at least in our agency. But when you do as many ads, outdoor boards, direct mail pieces, online creative, etc. as we’ve done, you learn what works and what doesn’t.

So here goes. Here is your guide on what not to do in outdoor advertising:

  1. DO NOT distract the viewer with multiple messages. Focus on one single message.
  2. DO NOT use more than seven words in your copy. Anything more than this is requiring too much of your viewers to do in the 2-3 seconds they have passing by the board.
  3. DO NOT use more than 2-3 words in directional copy. Better yet, use an arrow instead.
  4. DO NOT include your address in the layout.
  5. DO NOT include more than three elements in your layout. Choose one of the following formats: (1) headline (2) logo (3) image OR (1) headline (2) logo (3) directional.

Every medium has strengths and weaknesses. Having a solid understanding of each allows you to be more strategic with messaging and with your media buy. Here is a summary of outdoor’s advantages and disadvantages:

  • Strength: Low CPM / high reach and frequency
  • Strength: Ability to target geographically
  • Strength: Variety of types and locations
  • Strength: Simplicity
  • Weakness: Availability
  • Weakness: Message wear-out
  • Weakness: Passive
  • Weakness: Minimal demographic targeting

Given the fact that mobility limits the viewing time of an outdoor message, I suggest you try to accomplish one of the goals, not both. If your “internal client” (CEO, physician, etc.) is asking for everything and the kitchen sink, then your goal becomes the third one I didn’t mention before. I call it “appeasing an internal audience.” And there are no metrics or ROI that will occur with this objective. But it is a reality for us in healthcare marketing, and if your thoughtful rationale doesn’t convince your internal audience, then just execute and move on.

By following the guidance I’ve provided above, you can achieve the results you, and your C-suite, are seeking.

AcrobatAnt Healthcare Marketing & Advertising
1336 East 15th Street
Tulsa, OK

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