It is very intimidating to look for your first billboard location. You feel like you don’t know what you are doing, and that you can’t possibly compete with the big companies. There is a simple exercise to cure you of these feelings, and start you on the road to building your own billboard company.
When Sam Walton built Walmart, he started outside of the big cities, and later worked his way in. That way he didn’t face as stiff of competition when he got started. You need to follow his example. You need to get out of the big city and into the countryside to find your first billboard locations.
Mapping it out
Take a map of the city you are located in (assuming you live in a city; if not, then get a map of the nearest big city), and take a highlighter and color the highways leading in and out of town. Choose the general direction of growth in that city according to where there the majority of new construction is taking place. Drive out on one of the highways that run in that direction, and keep going until you see the billboards start to die out. You have now reached the new frontier for billboards, which makes for fertile territory for you.
You need to find the first legal billboard location available in this new territory—the first location since the string of billboards dies out. Why did the signs die out? Probably because there was not a whole lot of demand for the ad faces, and the big companies figure if they ever want a new location, there should be plenty available. However, this is a very good place to start your billboard career.
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Making the most of the space
How can a billboard like this work when the big companies don’t want it. It can work for several reasons:
- You have far less overhead than they do (that is, no overhead).
- You will rent the advertising space for less, beause you have no corporate rules to worry about.
- You can build the sign for less if you really focus on it.
- You will put in 150% effort because it is your first sign
Leasing and pre-leasing your billboard
The safest way to approach a sign like this is to get the practice of obtaining a groundlease and permit, and then try and pre-lease the advertising space. That way, if you are unsuccessful in finding advertisers, you can terminate the lease and not build it. You can also try to sell it to another company, but it won’t bring a lot, so don’t have high expectations. Make sure that your groundlease allows you to cancel the lease in the event that you can’t rent the advertising space—just in case.
Once you have gained confidence and learned from a couple of more remote billboards, you will be much more capable of attacking signs closer in to the city center.
Alternatives to building a billboard
If you are having trouble getting started in finding billboard locations, go to the far reaches of the metropolitan area, and you can find plenty of product to start you on your way. Even if you don’t build that first sign, you will learn several lessons along the way.