Can You Imagine a World Without Billboards?
No, I can’t either! And I know there will be many people who would very much like a world without billboards. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay in many parts of the country and of the world.
Billboards have been around for around 150 years or more and they’re an enormously popular, affordable and effective advertising medium. Advertisers love them because of their cost effectiveness and because the advertising message can’t be ‘switched off’. Consumers may not know whether they love them or not, but they notice them – billboards are effective for branding and some of the best known brands, like McDonald’s, are the biggest billboard advertisers.
Billboard advertising has not been adversely affected by the rise of the internet – in fact the outdoor billboard business is one of the fastest growing areas of the media according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. People are out and about as much as they ever were – in fact more than they ever were and there are more of them and billboards are in full view.
Billboard technology is being reinvented – with the introduction of digital billboards and the continued growth of mobile billboards.
So this is no ‘fad’ or passing whim as far as businesses to be involved in goes.
How Many Businesses Can You Start for A Low Entry Cost?
And how many businesses can you start that are pretty much ‘hands off’ once you’ve set them up?
Sure, if you plan to own an enormous billboard on a major highway through a major US city, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny! Growth plans aside, it is possible to enter the outdoor billboard business for ‘several thousand dollars’ – check out some that are for sale to see this for yourself. If the entry cost is still too high for an individual, two partners (or more) could easily cover the entry cost with some focus and planning. Risks can be reduced (as compared with other types of businesses) and possible losses can be lessened (providing a professional approach is taken – and adequate appropriate insurance is taken out, for example).
Once a billboard is researched, purchased, leased and owned, little day to day input is required to keep the revenue flowing in over the term of the lease. This allows the business owner/investor to continue in their mainstream job or business as they grow their outdoor billboard business. It’s unlikely there are many traditional bricks and mortar businesses out there could afford the owner the same luxury.
The Beauty is in the Simplicity of the Business…
The outdoor billboard business is one of the rare businesses where it is possible to do you due diligence (or research) pretty much everything you need to, to a highly detailed level, by yourself.
Traditional bricks and mortar businesses can be very complex creatures and often you won’t be able to know everything there is to know about operating the business or the financial details of the business and critical details of other areas until you have actually taken over and started operating it. It’s not unheard of for the financial situation to have been ‘doctored’ for the purposes of the sale, or for previously happy clients/customers to be lost due to a change in ownership. If this happens to a business, the results can be catastrophic for the new owner.
One real beauty of the outdoor billboard business is the fact that the purchaser is in the privileged position of being able to research the land on which the billboard sits (and any rules, regulations, covenants that apply to it), the structure itself (for compliance with building regulations etc), the possible marketplace for advertising clients (of which there would typically be multiple if the location is chosen carefully) and also the ‘environment’ at any given time. Billboards are not permitted in all states and there is significant opposition to them (or upgrades to them) in some locations. Careful due diligence into the environment being operated in is likely to reduce the risk of being affected by law changes – although all risk can never be eliminated completely.
Owning a billboard or two (or more) may not be everybody’s idea of a great business to be involved in, but if you don’t want to have to work your fingers to the bone in a traditional bricks’n'mortar business day-in-day-out, it’s one to consider. If you don’t have or don’t want to invest your life savings or put your own home on the line to purchase a business or investment with a high price, such as property or a franchise business or even start-up business, then the billboard business continues to look attractive. Often in business it’s what we don’t know that ‘gets us’ and causes business failure and disappointment so as a business that avoids much of the complexity of other businesses, we think the outdoor billboard business just shines.