The Problem with Billboards

It is hard to find places to advertise your cannabis business.

And because broadcast media and other mainstream advertising channels are off limits, if you can buy a billboard placement or three with the promise of more exposure for your store, why wouldn’t at least try it, right? 

So you go about and choose your locations based on your budget and circulation (the estimated number of people who will have the potential to see your billboard). Then the ‘outdoor advertising’ salesperson asks what you want on your billboard, you email your logo in, tell them what you want it say and then a graphic designer (or someone that claims to be) will send you a mock up.  You go back and forth a few times until you get what you want.  You sign a big check and then you wait with childlike anticipation for your billboard(s) to go up.

It usually ends up looking something like this.

Then you wait to see scores of new faces stroll in your door with wallets wide open.

And you wait.

And then you wait some more.

If you are lucky a half a dozen regulars along with your friends, family, and staff will comment on it.  Maybe someone will actually compliment it.

You might even see some new faces, if you’re lucky.

If you rented it for more than a month, the next month the bill comes in, and then another, and then another.  I’ve worked with shop owners that had more bills come in from their billboard advertising than actual customers.

For most advertisers billboards are wildly inefficient in terms of ROI.  

High circulation billboards at major intersections and along highly trafficked metro freeways for ‘destination’ locations likes casinos, zoos, tourist traps, etc are also highly effective.  And big name brands who have large budgets use billboards for prestige and brand awareness, but rarely expect any meaningful or trackable results. 

But for mom and pop businesses, like most cannabis stores, billboards are likely an unwise investment.  Small business can’t really afford the high circulation locations that would make an impact on their business.

So should a cannabis business invest in billboards?  In most cases, no.  They would be better to invest in better signage at their locations. Even sign spinners will attract more attention and drive more traffic than a static boring billboard that will become invisible to locals after they have seen it once.  

The exception we would make for our clients are digital billboards, and only if it was very near a store location. Their additional expense and scarcity among the sea of static billboards makes this option tough. If it were our client, it would be part of a larger more accountable branding strategy and you bet your booty it would cause people to instantly crave your products. 

So do we have any advice for 420 West/420 Carpenter?  Yes.  First, remove the Clinton line.  It literally adds nothing to your brand or your image other than cause people to believe you are stuck in 1992.  Second, call us at 725-22-BLUNT.  We can give you a handful of free ideas  to grow your stores that are cheaper, stickier, and more likely to make customers hand you gobs of filthy money, and then bring their friends.