Does size really matter? (when advertising)

I was designing a new billboard for one of my funeral home clients, and the Lamar rep had emailed me the specifications. 

“10.5 inches high by 22.8 inches wide” I was confused.

Either this was the smallest billboard in the world, or the sales rep had the wrong information.

The sales rep was embarrassed when I pointed out the mistake and agreed that feet made more sense than inches. A 10.5-inch high billboard versus a 10.5-foot high billboard…that’s a heck of a difference.

But does size matter when it comes to advertising? That’s the subject of this week’s newsletter.

Every ad has three components; size, repetition, and content. 

The size is the dimensions of the print/digital ad or the duration of a commercial.

Repetition is how often do we want to put the ad in front of the target audience.

The content is the marketing message being delivered by the ad. Typically that is the text or voice-over and the imagery.

Media companies will often create the content for free if you sign off on their size and repetition recommendations. But as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

Years ago, I had a funeral home client spending $4k/month advertising in the YellowPages. His sales rep always encouraged him to jump up from half-page ads to a full-page, increasing his monthly ad spend even more.

One of the first things I did for the client was design a new quarter-page ad to replace the “free” one the YP designers created. Rather than using a generic marketing message that would apply to any funeral home, I designed an ad highlighting my client’s unique attributes.

The end result….advertising expenses went down by 50%, and our call volume went up by 65% over the next three years.

Why? Because better content always trumps size and repetition.

The average person is exposed to between 6,000 and 10,000 marketing messages every day. Large corporations with massive budgets flood the media channels with their marketing message. 

Billboards, radio ads, TV ads, podcast sponsors, social media ads, Google Ads, and more. You can’t even pump gas without hearing an ad these days.

The constant flood of marketing messages makes it incredibly hard for anyone to stand out in the crowd. The reality is that most advertising is ignored.

Along comes a funeral home owner who wants to increase market share. He has a small budget to invest and a local media sales rep to help him spend it. 

Will he get any return on this investment? Probably not.

Does the size of his ad or the duration of his commercial matter? Not if he can’t create a marketing message that will cut through the noise.

Let’s look at a few different advertising opportunities…

Billboards – they have standard sizes that are all pretty similar. Size doesn’t matter.

TV or Radio ads – It’s tempting to create a 60-second commercial, but with a good message, you can get a better response with a 30-second spot. Size doesn’t matter.

Social media ads – they have standard sizes that are all pretty similar. Size doesn’t matter.

Google Adwords – everyone has the same limit on the number of characters in an ad. Size doesn’t matter.

Direct mail postcards – in this case, size does matter. Here’s why…

With direct mail, you are not competing with the 10,000 marketing messages a person receives every day. You are competing with the contents of their mailbox.

Most people sort their mail over the recycle bin. Studies have shown that oversized pieces of mail get a second look. 

Politicians figured this out a while ago. That’s why during election season, your mailbox is filled with oversized postcards.

The bottom line…in most cases, the size of your ad doesn’t matter. What really matters is the content of your ad. Get that right and you can save a lot of money on your next ad campaign.

Until next time


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