Smart marketing with billboards

March 21, 2012
Pam Johnson
Issue 1

When it comes to marketing laboratory services to potential clients, Dena Lanier, owner of The Lab 2000 located in Columbus, Georgia, has always thought outside the box. So when she saw an opportunity to engage her clients by tapping into the potential new business presented by the soldiers stationed at Fort Benning military base in town, she needed to think big. That’s when she decided to turn to billboards. She wanted to drive the public to dentistry and indirectly to her laboratory.

When it comes to marketing laboratory services to potential clients, Dena Lanier, owner of The Lab 2000 located in Columbus, Georgia, has always thought outside the box. So when she saw an opportunity to engage her clients by tapping into the potential new business presented by the soldiers stationed at Fort Benning military base in town, she needed to think big. That’s when she decided to turn to billboards. She wanted to drive the public to dentistry and indirectly to her laboratory.

“Laboratories can’t market to the general public and have patients call us, but we can advertise much the same as the big drug companies do, asking the public to request their dentists  “prescribe” restorative work to The Lab 2000,” said Lanier.

So she went after military personnel with three billboard themes. One billboard reads: “Have you smiled at your soldier today.” The second billboard theme “Change your smile and you change your life” lets people know that a beautiful smile can impact lives in a positive way.  The theme of her third billboard is an “Unbreakable Crown.”

“This billboard I think was a good move because a lot of people have had a crown fracture or know someone whose crown broke,” Lanier said. “All of these billboards drive the patient to the dentist.”

Getting started

How did she know whom to contact with her billboard concept?  “I always read billboards and noticed that a lot of them were owned by CBS OUTDOOR,” said Lanier. She called her local CBS outdoor center and a sales rep came to the office to meet with her and her husband Dennis. The two told the rep what they wanted and he got the ball rolling.

“The good thing about using CBS Outdoor is they have billboards all over the country,” she said. “ Once you get the artwork or vinyl completed with your advertising concept, the artwork or vinyl can move from billboard to billboard.”

Lanier’s billboard will be on display for 30 to 60 days in one location and then move to another area of town for the next 30 to 60 days.

“We signed up for six months, moving from billboard to billboard across Columbus,” said Lanier.  “We also are having one made for the Midwinter meeting in Chicago this February. It will be up for a month, and then when Midwinter is over, we will move that billboard to Atlanta for the Hinman show. If you can’t be at an event, you can have a billboard made to represent your company and or your product.”

A couple of people have asked Lanier if her billboards may be driving business to other labs in the area. Although she admits this may be true, Lanier is not bothered because the campaign is driving dentistry and the business generated helps everyone. “You may want to get together with other labs in your area and have a billboard made with something like “This smile is brought to you by your local dental laboratories: ABC Dental Lab and DFG Studios”, etc.

“There is so much you can do with a billboard,” she said. “You need to keep it simple and as few words as possible because the consumer doesn’t have a lot of time to read and grasp the concept being presented.”

The cost

The cost of a billboard will depend on the area in which it is located.  Obviously, some areas have a higher traffic volume and thus will be more expensive to rent. However, if you compare the cost of a billboard to the cost of an on-staff sales representative, you will come out ahead because the billboards are 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

“This all is new and exciting,” commented Lanier. “I hope that other labs will join in and start doing some billboard marketing.  Before you do, be sure that you are doing the right thing by marketing dentistry not your laboratory.”