Marketing your business at an outdoor event is a great way to bring in new customers. Many festivals and sports events look to local businesses for on-site food and entertainment. Other outdoor events look for local sponsors, and trade shows are often held outside.
Whether you’re considering sponsoring an event or simply advertising there, it’s important to stand out from the crowd.
Marketing your business outdoors brings extra challenges. Wind, weather and traffic can all pose obstacles to getting your message out. But outdoor marketers also have an advantage: They’re right in the middle of a group of potential customers, many of whom are ready to make purchases.
Read on to learn more about outdoor marketing and how to make your business stand out at an outdoor event.
What Is Outdoor Marketing?
Any form of outdoor advertising is considered outdoor marketing. Many local retailers use outdoor marketing, often in combination with other types of media.
Many people think of billboards when they think of outdoor marketing. That’s because billboards make up approximately 2/3 of outdoor marketing efforts.
However, billboards aren’t the only form of outdoor marketing available. Benches and parks are both popular forms of outdoor marketing, while bus advertisements and car decals are effective forms of mobile marketing.
Other types of outdoor marketing materials include:
- Outdoor banners and flags
- Wall art and banners
- Café stands
- Pop up tents
- Branded outdoor chairs and umbrellas
Outdoor marketing offers businesses several benefits:
Outdoor marketing provides high local visibility. That’s one reason why seven out of ten outdoor ads promote local businesses. Because of its greater visibility with local customers, outdoor marketing has a high return on investment. Many customers see outdoor advertising just as they’re considering making a purchase, so outdoor marketing has the potential to drive a high number of impulse purchases.
Outdoor marketing is also relatively affordable. Developing an outdoor marketing campaign is less expensive than many other forms of marketing. For example, both radio and television ads are much pricier than outdoor marketing.
Many types of outdoor marketing are designed to be portable. This allows you more flexibility with your placement. Advertisements on cars and buses are some of the most portable forms of outdoor advertising. But flags, banners, furniture and outdoor tents are also easy to move. You can reposition your advertisements to respond to changes in foot traffic, or you can move your displays from one outdoor event to another with ease.
What Are the Keys to an Effective Outdoor Marketing Campaign?
Outdoor marketing coordinates well with other parts of your marketing campaign. However, effective outdoor marketing is a little different from advertising via other mediums. There are two key differences you should be aware of: customer traffic patterns and visibility requirements.
Learn About Customer Traffic Patterns to Increase Visibility
Compared to other types of advertising, you have more control over your outdoor advertising. You can take advantage of this to attract more customers.
We recommend that businesses research their target customers and their routes. You can place your advertisements along these popular routes to increase your sales.
If you have a restaurant or brick-and-mortar shop, walk around the shopping center. Observe where guests enter, gather and leave. You can also ask your customers where they park. Comment cards can also be an effective way to gather information.
If you’re planning to advertise at a sports or concert venue, go to other events there. Take note of where people naturally gather, and then prioritize advertisements in places where potential customers linger.
Use a High-Impact Design to Maximize Visibility Outdoors
One of the downsides of outdoor marketing is that people have just a few seconds for it to register. This is particularly true if you’re placing ads on buses or cars or if your ads will be seen primarily by drivers. In these cases, potentials customers have only two to three seconds to see your message.
Because you have just a few seconds to catch people’s attention, use bold colors and a simple message to make your point. APG Exhibits offers one-, two-, three- or four-color printing options. But for outdoor advertisements, sometimes all you need is two. A few bold colors can go further than a rainbow palette when you need to catch a driver’s attention.
When you’re designing your advertisement, ask yourself these questions.
- Is your ad large enough to be read from a distance?
- Is the sign size big enough to attract a passerby’s attention?
- Is your message memorable and clear?
- Is your message consistent with the rest of your advertising?
- If you’re providing directions or an address on your ad, are they clearly visible?
- Is your business name easy to read?
- Are the colors and logo you’ve used bright and noticeable?
- Will your message stand out against nearby buildings, advertisements and signs?
- Have you included enough white space that readers can easily understand your message?
When you’re used to advertising on smaller surfaces, it can be hard to make the jump to outdoor advertising. We recommend taking some time to learn about what works.
Get in the car and drive around. What advertisements catch your eye? Make a note of the materials these ads use. Pay attention to the colors, messages and designs other businesses use on their flags. You may want to use similar colors or designs in your own advertisement.
You may notice many outdoor advertisements don’t attract your attention. Pay attention to the design, colors and style of these advertisements as well. These can give you helpful hints on what to avoid when you’re designing your own advertisements.
APG Exhibits provides templates and art instructions to help you design your ad artwork. These include directions on how to select colors and create a print-ready file.
If you don’t feel comfortable designing your own outdoor marketing materials, that’s okay. Our graphic designers can work with you to create the perfect design. We can help you with artwork for feather flags, tents and banners.
What Types of Outdoor Advertising Tools Are Available?
There are lots of ways to market your business outside. Many businesses focus on billboards — however, because of their size, cost and fixed location, billboards are not always ideal. Consider whether a billboard is best for your advertising needs, or if you may need a different type of outdoor marketing.
We’ll highlight some effective outdoor marketing tools below, along with where they excel:
Choose outdoor tents for:
- Outdoor trade shows
- Sports events
- Advertising in warm weather, wind or rain
If you’re advertising at sports events, concerts or outdoor trade shows, a pop up tent should be part of your marketing campaign. These outdoor tents can be a simple canopy, or they can include a backdrop. They also vary in size, from a small tent that holds a single table to 20-foot wide tents.
Branded tents can protect both staff and visitors from the weather at outdoor events. Weather protection is one of the biggest advantages of using a pop up tent. By providing a shady spot at hot events, you’ll also encourage people to linger. Your customers will stay longer and see more of your products.
Tents can easily become a gathering spot at outdoor events. Because of this, you have more flexibility in the color and design of your artwork. Tent designs can use a wider range of colors and include more information. Because most customers will be there for a while, they’ll be able to absorb more information.
Choose these types of outdoor advertising for:
- Attracting attention to a booth or tent outdoors
- Grouping together in a lobby or trade show
- Placing outside of a retail store
Feather flags are one of the most flexible advertisements available. They’re good for both indoor and outdoor use. They’re also portable and easy to assemble. This means they’re a good choice for businesses that display at a number of events.
You’ll also hear these flags referred to as flutter flags, bow flags and outdoor swooper flags. These flags are designed to flutter in the wind. This is an affordable way to create a moving, eye-catching message. If you’re at an outdoor event with a breeze, make sure you put out a feather flag. We make ours from a durable knit polyester, so they’ll last in windy conditions.
Feather flags usually serve to draw a customer’s attention to a booth, store or event. A row of feather flags in front of a store or business is a good way to draw in potential customers. You’ll also see feather flags used to mark key areas at big events or as part of outdoor trade show displays.
Many feather flags are printed in just one or two colors. This helps them stand out to potential customers. However, you can print a full range of colors on your feather flag. We offer templates for feather flags, which can help you create an eye-catching advertisement.
Choose these banners for:
- Information or directions
- Advertisements that will be placed on poles or above eye level
- Portable advertising options
Banners can be hung on poles and light posts or displayed via outdoor banner stands. Like feather flags, banners are a flexible and portable way to advertise your business. If you choose to use a banner stand, there are many pop-up or retractable models that are easy to carry with you.
One of the benefits of banners is they can be displayed up high. That means they’ll never be blocked by people’s heads, even in crowded events. If you’re looking to add some height to your marketing, consider using pole banners.
Traditional pole banners are usually printed on vinyl. They’re reinforced at the top and bottom. This gives you a wide, rigid advertising surface.
Wind sail pole banners, on the other hand, catch the breeze and flutter in the wind. If you’re able to use light poles or posts for advertising, consider these alternatives to flutter flags.
If you’re looking for an option that you can move around easily, consider banners. Traditional hanging banners can be hung above a crowd or placed at eye level. Banner stands, on the other hand, allow you to display your ads at eye level. Both are portable and can be moved from event to event without damage.
Make sure that the print and colors on your banner are robust enough to endure the weather. Outdoor banners are regularly subjected to wind and sunlight. They’re also more prone to scratches, so durability is important. We use a two-part solvent printing technique to make sure your banners last.
Choose promotional giveaways for:
- Indoor or outdoor events
- Connection to theme of the event
If you’re advertising at an outdoor event, consider giving away branded merchandise. These promotional giveaways are also popular at trade shows. That’s because potential customers will see your business name each time they use the item.
Branded totes, notepads and pens are all common promotional items at trade shows. If you’re marketing at an outdoor event, look for outdoor items that provide value to potential customers. For warm-weather events, these could include branded water bottles, coolies, cups or umbrellas. Advertising at a sports event? What about branded Frisbees or balls?
Usefulness is key to making these freebies effective — that’s why water bottles are popular freebies. Similarly, travel mugs and branded shirts are useful to potential customers. They’ll use your materials regularly, seeing your business name each time they do so.
Choose furniture for:
- Creating a cohesive brand identity
- Encouraging potential customers to linger
Chairs and umbrellas with your company’s logo are both useful and effective marketing materials. Branded outdoor furniture is popular with large, national chains. Smaller businesses can use this association to their advantage. By pairing branded furniture with a pop up tent, you can create a cohesive brand experience for customers.
Umbrellas in particular offer the advantages of a tent in a smaller package. They display your logo above the crowd and provide shade for staff and customers. If you advertise at outdoor events, consider using a branded umbrella near your booth.
Like umbrellas, branded deck chairs or director chairs can create a gathering point. This can turn your booth into a destination. That’s part of why chairs are also popular marketing tools for large, national companies.
Branded chairs are unusual, especially for smaller businesses, and tend to be eye-catching. Customers often notice and comment on custom outdoor event furniture. Because chairs and umbrellas are durable, you’ll also get more value from these investments.
These categories highlight the wide range of materials you can use to stand out at outdoor events. However, there are also a variety of niche products you might consider. If you’re a band or you’re advertising at concerts, consider investing in concert banners. These banners hang on either side of a stage, and they’re a good advertising choice for concerts, festivals and fairs.
Restaurants could consider using a café board to advertise at an event. Similarly, display boards are a convenient advertising option for restaurants and food trucks. These fold-up stands can be used to list specials as well as help to direct customers.