Why your start-up business needs an out-of-home ad campaign

Image showing crossroads

People tend to associate out-of-home (OOH) advertising with big brands. But the costs have come down in recent years due to technological advances and the levels of automation that online technologies have brought to the medium. Add to that the fact that even small brands tend to have a broad advertising mix; encompassing social media, pay-per-click ads, mobile, emarketing, direct mail, and so on.

We’ve got to a stage where small brands no longer look and act like small brands (think of how a wide social media reach can build prestige, for example.) Increasingly, the difference between large and small brands is scale; quantity rather than quality. And the great thing about outdoor advertising today is that it is affordable enough for startups to get wide exposure using to it (the quantity side of the equation) and it has the prestige-building factor that can put your startup on the map (the quality side).

Age of the Startup

We live in the age of the startup. Debutants to a market can become household names seemingly overnight. Think of a brand like Simba Sleep (est. 2016) that is now stocking its “unique” mattresses in every branch of John Lewis. Or take Slack, the online team collaboration software founded in 2013; they’ve recently launched an outdoor ad campaign in 4 US cities, and are making waves in the already saturated digital tech sector.

'What it feels like to be 32% more productive' caption on a Slack out-of-home ad campaign
Image from: adweek.com 

The lesson to take from these examples is that brands, startups especially, can’t afford to be small-scale, because that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Startups need to make bold moves to capture the market, and out-of-home provides a great way to do this.

Online is clearly a go-to marketing option for most startups, but, as the Slack example shows, they soon need to look to wider pastures. Taking advantage of out-of-home advertising in the early stages of your startup is a powerful way to kick-start your brand’s growth and seriously build your profile.

Out-of-home: building trust and gaining confidence

If you do a web search on startup marketing tips, there is very little talk about using out-of-home advertising. Instead, a lot of talk is focussed on mobile, digital and online.

Yet, whilst you do indeed need to use those other media as part of your marketing mix, when it comes to what consumers actually trust, it turns out that outdoor has a much higher trust level (around 70%, according to one study) than online, social and mobile.

Chart showing type of ad effectiveness and trust
Image from: digiday.com

If you want to build trust and confidence in your brand, there’s an argument to put out-of-home at the forefront of your startup marketing strategy.

OOH doesn’t just boost your profile and credibility in the eyes of consumers, either; it will give buyers confidence to stock your products on their shelves. Similarly, if you are looking to attract investors to your startup, OOH can give them the confidence that you are punching above your weight and mean business.

Using location to your advantage

OOH is a great way to build a local presence for your fledgeling brand. You can use it to target shop sites, food outlets, or events; or to target communities who will be most responsive to your brand. One aspect of the appeal of social media advertising, for example, is how easy it is to reach out to audiences in specific geographical areas. You can’t predict where a person picking up a newspaper or magazine is located, but you can when it comes to online media. Well, the same is true for out-of-home. You can’t just target people living in a specific town or city, you can pick the high street, roadside, or individual bus stop where you want to place your ad. Jump on the Bubble panel locator to see just how easy this is to do.

Launched a new fashion line? Target shopping malls and high streets near stores that stock your range. Launched the next revolutionary productivity app? Look for ad sites near upmarket office complexes, or outside Starbucks.

Add dynamism to your marketing mix

As well as location targeting, OOH offers your startup a very flexible marketing solution. With digital OOH you can run ads only during the time of day, or day of the week, that is most relevant to your needs. If you’re launching a new restaurant, you can book adverts to display on evenings and weekends; if you’re launching a new energy drink, you can target commuters during the morning rush hour.

Punching above your weight

There’s a lot of symbolism involved in effective marketing. The way in which you do something is as important as what you are doing. If you go down the out-of-home route for marketing your new business, you will be doing effective marketing in such a way as to signal that you have big ambitions, that you take yourself seriously, and that you are focussed on growth. By punching above your weight you will be constantly focussed on raising your game, and meeting high expectations. And you will be perceived to be one-to-watch amongst the people that matter.

Set yourself apart from your competition

How many startups in your niche are investing in out-of-home advertising right now? It’s probably a minority. So by adopting an OOH marketing strategy in the early stages, you will give your startup a competitive advantage over your rivals.

US tech company Percolate made innovative use of out-of-home advertising by placing subtle ads on taxi cab roofs, a canny move that targeted professionals and executives as they travelled about town. They were looking for innovative, disruptive ways to get their brand out there, and choosing out-of-home paid off for them.

In our look-ahead to 2018 we predicted this year would see more new businesses moving into the OOH sector, thanks in no small part to automated ad booking processes which have driven down costs and made outdoor advertising even more flexible for brands.

If you haven’t already considered using out-of-home advertising as part of your startup’s marketing campaign, you should give it some serious thought. Take the time to think about how you could use OOH to set your brand apart from the competition. And put yourself in the shoes of your audience. How would you react if you came across an ad from an exciting new company whilst out and about? Would it put that brand top of mind? Would it make you think, “here’s a brand that means business?”. If so, then it’s time to turn to OOH to take your startup to the next level.


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