As I was driving yesterday I had an opportunity to safely take this photo of a home builder’s billboard that caught my attention. It originally caught my attention because of how simple the ad was (a good thing!) and how prominent the website was. However what really surprised me was that it was done by Schumacher Homes.
I grew up in Ohio and worked for a home builder there for several years, and so I’ve been very aware of Schumacher Homes and their brand. They build a good home at a fair price on your own home site. Their advertising was always well executed and thoughtful. I even had a moment to meet Paul Schumacher and one or two of his executives at this year’s International Builders Show and they all were really sharp and engaging people. So before I begin my analysis let me say that the actual builder here is coincidental – and I wish Schumacher continued success!
I have actually seen similar billboards for Schumacher in several states recently (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia). I have a hunch they they may have partnered with either a national billboard company (a Lamar board is pictured here) or several regional ones to place one large buy of inventory at a greatly reduced price. I have purchased billboards at up to 90% off of their retail price using similar tactics. To be clear I’m not anti-billboard at all if they are purchased smartly. I think in the right locations for the right price they can be very effective. As a medium though, they can suck cash out of your budget quickly if done improperly – so be careful.
Let’s continue on to the creative design of the board. It is very clear and straightforward in its main message (best price per square foot) and its call to action (the website). The “on your lot” banner and energy star logo are nearly lost completely and probably should have been dropped or repositioned. The image I’m also hoping they have changed per market to appeal to those who are most likely to pass by, but I can’t confirm that is the case.
Lets talk for a moment about the large and clear website on the bottom. I’m becoming convinced that website names in certain forms of advertising are become less important every day based upon how people interact with the web. IF you have an SEO strategy and execute it properly then you don’t have to try and brand the website as much as your company. When the prospect sits down at the computer they will type your name into Google and find you quickly and easily. I tried typing in Schumacher Homes with about 15 different spellings and each one brought me right where I was trying to get to. Perhaps they were concerned that their traditional logo would be unreadable at higher speeds, I’m not sure. In any case how likely is it for a prospect to go to that website the moment they see it while driving 70 MPH down the freeway? Or will they wait until a later moment in time and attempt to recall what they saw – most likely by typing it into a search engine. Something to think about – especially if you’re not confident in your SEO strategy.
The last item I want to discuss on the creative design is the selection of color. While it is true that black and white are a high contrast combination, they also tend to feel a bit lifeless and bland. If you’ve seen ads of theirs in other mediums, or you’ve visited their website then you know what a great job they generally do with color. In this case though, it subconsciously tells consumers that the way they achieve the best price is by potentially cutting quality. Which is a shame because using color would not have cost any more – however that is still what is inferred.
We’ve covered the medium and creative design, but there is much so more to discuss. Come back and we’ll look deeply at the message and the psychology behind it in part two.
What do YOU think about billboards as an advertising medium? What about their design for this one?