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Billboard advertising: ever considered it for your small business?

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Billboard advertising is a traditional form of offline promotion for any business wanting to target a specific location. Used in combination with other marketing tactics, a billboard ad could help attract new customers and build your brand.


In this guide we explore some of the benefits of billboard advertising and how to create an advert. We also hear from the lucky small business owner who won a free billboard advert in a Simply Business competition.


Brixton Black Culture Market wins huge billboard

Black Culture Market, a social enterprise that celebrates black culture and commerce, beat more than 1,100 other small businesses to win a free advert in our billboard competition.


Small businesses were invited to enter for their chance to win free design work and advertising space in their home region.


Black Culture Market was chosen by our judges and won a billboard in London. The Brixton-based event runs every three months and aims to help close the wealth gap, create more jobs and opportunities, and inspire more ownership.

Beyond its pop-up weekends, the platform brings the opportunity for great systemic advancement for African and Caribbean communities. With just 0.24 per cent of capital in the UK going to black entrepreneurs (just 0.02 per cent to black female entrepreneurs), access to early-stage capital is limited. Black Culture Market aims to drive change by creating autonomy and encouraging communities to shop small with black-owned businesses.

Black Culture Market wins Simply Business billboard competition
Black Culture Market wins a free billboard advert. Photograph: Noah Da Costa

‘Increase brand awareness and build consumer confidence’


On winning the competition, Jen Baptiste, founder of Black Culture market commented: "It’s an amazing opportunity to be selected as the winner of the Simply Business billboard competition.

“The space will enable us to increase brand awareness and build consumer confidence, attract new audiences, and provide the public with an exciting visual reference of what we do.

“Billboards are a great tool that consumers notice, trust, and remember and we hope to reach a larger, more diverse range of people and attract a captive audience. We are grateful to have won and more importantly to be able to share this opportunity with the businesses we support.”

Why consider billboard advertising?

Here’s a few ways a billboard advertising campaign could help your small business:

  • brand awareness – billboards are by their nature very large so can be a great way to attract attention to your brand
  • target a specific location – having a physical advert means you can target people in that area, which can work particularly well if you have physical space or event coming up
  • reach different people – using billboards in combination with your digital marketing strategy can help you attract customers from different demographics

However some of the drawbacks of billboard advertising include:

  • cost – designing and creating a billboard advert can be expensive
  • fixed location – only the people travelling past your advert will see it so you’re unable to just target people who are likely to be interested (like with digital ads)
  • difficult to track success – it’s not easy to know how a customer finds out about your business when it comes to offline advertising like billboards

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a well thought out marketing strategy. Download our marketing plan template to get started.

Billboards in London's Piccadilly Circus at night
Photograph: Tom Eversley/stock.adobe.com

What makes a good billboard advert?

Emotions inspire action. That means you want your audience to feel something when they see your billboard – and hopefully that will encourage them to buy your product or service.

A big part of that is telling stories and having a consistent brand identity. Lucy Hitchcock (founder of Partner in Wine) talks more about brand storytelling here.

Once you’re happy with your brand identity – colours, tone of voice, logo, and font – then you’ll be ready to start creating your ad.

To create a good billboard advert, keep these things in mind:

  • make it memorable – can you make your audience laugh? Just make sure your brand name is clear in the design
  • stand out – people will be walking or driving past and focused on other things, so be sure to get your message across quickly
  • tell a story (visually) – despite the size of billboards, text should be kept to a minimum
  • include a call to action – what do you want people to do when they’ve seen your ad? Don’t forget to include your business website

‘A significant boost’

Alan Thomas, our UK CEO at Simply Business commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to support the Black Culture Market by sponsoring and designing a billboard for their business, and delighted that Jen and her team are so happy with the result.

"Our research found that many small businesses are being forced to implement price increases, slow their plans for expansion, and even stop hiring. As a result, advertising and marketing can slip further down the list of priorities whilst SMEs fight rising costs and supply chain woes. Giving the Black Culture Market the opportunity for free advertising space will hopefully provide a significant boost in these difficult times.”