Tuffin’ It Out: LED billboards draw attention to your brand
By Morgan Zenner
Basim Mansour, president of Michael & Son Services Inc., puts his company name—and other information— in lights. LED lights, that is. Through the use of LED billboards (which he owns because of a side business venture he has selling mobile billboard advertising space), Mansour has branded the name of his company in his community’s memories.
“I can create an instant message whenever I want,” Mansour says. “It’s a great way to communicate with the masses instantly.”
Mansour built two types of LED billboards. The first is mounted on a pole in back of his company building, which also happens to be visible from a highway. The other is a LED sign mounted on the back of a flat-bed truck.
“Both give me the flexibility to change my advertising instantly, but the mobile billboard allows me to be in multiple places throughout the day,” Mansour says.
The LED signs are hooked up to a wireless Internet system (this applies to the truck as well) that forwards e-mails with the desired messaging or image and transfers it to the screen. “If I want to change the billboard, all I do is e-mail the image I want and open the e-mail on to the computers in the truck, or in the office, and it is represented on the screen,” Mansour says.
The LED devices are capable of featuring pictures, words or video. Mansour says it’s not effective to use the billboard to run commercials—because of the signage is mobile, it does not remain in one place long enough to hear the full commercial.
Taking the sign to client’s homes is a new use for the mobile billboard. He’s been giving his best customers an extra reason to smile lately. Once he confirms that the homeowners are home, he sends the truck to the home with a “Thank you, Mrs. Smith” message running across the sign to show his appreciation for their business.
“People love it,” Mansour says. “They run out of their house and take pictures with the sign, and mostly it gives them a good laugh.” Mansour says it also helps with referrals from those people because the sign draws attention of the neighbors.
Once again, it’s the ability to instantaneously change the message that Mansour finds so useful with this type of signage. “For example, if it’s a really hot day, I will write something about getting your air conditioning fixed, or if it’s raining I will advise the public to call us for flooding issues,” he says.
Mansour says he changes the message on a daily basis, using everything from humor, to quoting Benjamin Franklin, to inspirational messages. “When people were down about the economy, we put the ‘Today is going to be a good day’ message on the board. People called us just to say ‘Thank you, that made my day,’” he says.
The ability to play on the current state of a consumer’s emotions can be a very powerful marketing tactic. It gives your company a personality and becomes part of a person’s landscape.
Just to prove it, Mansour provided a break down of just how effective the mobile and fixed LED boards have been over the last six months. He traced 148 calls from the mobile billboard and 196 calls from the fixed billboard beside his office space.
He refers to this as top-of-mind awareness, the reason he feels his company receives so many calls each day. “I spend a lot of time and money trying to stay in front of people and weaving Michael and Son into the fabric of life,” Mansour says. He adds that when it’s time to call, homeowners choose him because they are familiar with his company.
And, Mansour has found a couple other unrelated uses for his ad space, including using the signs as a bartering tool with area businesses. For example, he has a relationship with a local radio station in which they exchange free advertising.
He’s also found a way to use the billboards for the greater good. He partnered with the Fairfax County Crime Solvers (a citizen-based non-profit that focuses on catching criminals and/or missing children) to help them advertise crime alerts on the billboard. “I’ve always felt it was my duty to give back to the community by being a good civil servant,” Mansour says.
The possibilities are endless, and Mansour believes his LED billboard is on the cutting edge of advertising. Although, he says the billboard is not his biggest lead generation method—like his pay-per-click Web campaign—he is hopeful that this will increase his overall strategy of being everywhere and anywhere at all times.