How To Use Outdoor Advertising During The Pandemic

The global pandemic brought about by the coronavirus has challenged many business owners like never before, leading many to innovate their way out of this crisis to the best of their abilities. We’re seeing an increased reliance on outdoor advertising during the pandemic, for instance, because reaching people during the limited periods of time they’re outdoors is one of the only effective marketing tactics we have left. That being said, knowing how to use outdoor advertising during the pandemic is easier said than done, and making certain mistakes could end up costing your company huge sums of money.

Digital ads are nice, but they’re not the only way you can reach people right now. From billboards to subway advertising, here’s where to focus when using outdoor ads during the pandemic. 

Look to others for examples

The best way to learn about using outdoor advertisements during the pandemic is to look to others for examples. In the United Kingdom, for instance, many brands have already embarked upon innovative advertising campaigns that will resonate with shoppers during these trying times. For its 2019 “Year in Search” annual film, Google realized that praising heroes around the world who selflessly put themselves before others would resonate with users. In the UK, businesses have followed this advertising spirit and are now using their billboards and marketing materials to thank frontline workers and first responders who have remained vigilant during the pandemic.

Your company should be striving to give thanks to frontline workers and first responders during the pandemic, as this kind of messaging is what consumers and everyday people alike enjoy seeing. People aren’t getting out much these days, so it’s imperative not to remind them too much about the ongoing pandemic – doing so could spoil their limited time in the sun and turn them away from your brand. By praising frontline workers like nurses, however, you can tap into people’s awareness of the crisis without depressing them, and in doing so can reach out with messages that actually matter. 

Investing in custom business signs, billboards, even if it’s for a mobile tire service, and simple home-made creative efforts will pay off sooner rather than later. Don’t be afraid to get some chalk out and write on the local sidewalks, as this will allow you to direct foot traffic towards your store while also setting up social distancing markers on the ground that shoppers will be reassured by. While celebrating heroes is one way to get your message across, teaching shoppers how to socially distance and keep their space is another. 

Investing in billboards and custom signs can pay off, but you need to be careful about when and where you place them. Some poorly designed signs can backfire, after all, but a well-placed and well-designed billboard or sign can yield results for months to come. Using flashy lights can help, but try to focus on a creative sign that catches the attention of consumers. Nothing sells as well – or goes viral  as quickly – as humor. 

Be careful with subways

There’s no denying that subway and billboard advertising are taking serious hits right now. After all, ridership is down across most of the nation’s major subways, and few people are travelling if they can avoid it. It’s thus natural for advertisers to avoid these areas. While it’s obvious that you should be careful with subways, however, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore all transit-related advertising mediums. Many kiosks are popping up across metropolitan areas to give travellers information related to the pandemic or to help those few travelers who do remain out and about, for instance, and these prevent valuable advertising opportunities. 

With billboard advertising being particularly unpopular right now, it may be an ideal time to secure an advertisement space that you’ve historically sought after but found too expensive to secure. If you can leverage this pandemic’s economic crunch into a long-term billboard lease for a reduced cost, your business could end up turning a profit before you know it. There’s still no denying that knowing how to advertise during a pandemic entails turning away from physical advertisements and embracing digital ads. Reminding people that they’re in a crisis can actually backfire when it comes to getting them to spend more, so tread carefully in this regard. 

eCommerce figures are skyrocketing right now, and shoppers are spending more time on platforms like Facebook and YouTube than they usually do. This means that advertising efforts which ignore the digital world are likely not particularly effective, though outdoor advertisement through custom signare and well-placed billboards, not to mention creative at-home efforts, can still work. If you do focus on outdoor, physical ads, try to get as creative as possible and use them to enforce social distancing measures. Before long, you’ll find that this pandemic doesn’t necessarily have to spell out the end of your advertising budget. 

Brett Sartorial

Brett is a business journalist with a focus on corporate strategy and leadership. With over 15 years of experience covering the corporate world, Brett has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, analytical and insightful journalist. He has a deep understanding of the business strategies and leadership principles that drive the world's most successful companies, and is able to explain them in a clear and compelling way. Throughout his career, Brett has interviewed some of the most influential business leaders and has covered major business events such as the World Economic Forum and the Davos. He is also a regular contributor to leading business publications and has won several awards for his work.