Really Bad Billboards: Six Classic Outdoor Advertising Mistakes

outdoor advertising billboard Outdoor advertising—billboards in particular—seem to be more popular than ever in many hospital marketing and advertising plans. You don’t have to drive far to survey the crop of ads for hospitals (brand and ED wait times), service lines (specialists and clinics), and individual doctors or groups with hospital-connected practices.

Admittedly, billboard advertising is a creative challenge. Many things can go wrong, and unfortunately…often do. Really bad billboards are easy to spot; opportunity is lost, and a serious slice of budget is down the drain.

There are about 80-zillion possible mistakes that cause outdoor advertising to fail. But in our experience, here are some of the most common problems to avoid:

Use too many words. The toughest challenge with billboards is to effectively present your message in six or seven words, tops. Longer than that and it’s cluttered, can’t be read and doesn’t communicate. If you can’t say it simply, start over or don’t use billboards.

Include the entire visual “kitchen sink.” Clutter is the sure sign of an amateur effort…maybe born of a fear of wasted space. At 60 miles an hour, the viewer’s eye doesn’t know where to focus and shuts down. White space is your friend; confusion is the enemy.

Try to please everyone. The boss expects the logo, the doctor wants his picture, the expensive new techno-device has to be seen, the service line is a group of doctors, we’ve got a great staff here, and don’t forget the web address and phone number. Instead, focus, simplify and present only one idea.

Double-up. Use your brochure cover art as a billboard. This should be painfully obvious, but if it’s a good brochure, it’s probably not good billboard art. These are two distinctly different, and individually unique, animals.

Just one posting location is enough. For effective reach, outdoor advertising requires multiple locations, particularly with a sizeable service area. A posting near the hospital for the benefit of patients and your internal audience is a nice-to-have. But your plan needs several carefully selected locations.

Try to do-it-yourself. A serious investment in outdoor advertising requires professional guidance and experienced talent. Some of the most obviously bad billboards can be traced to a well-intended D-I-Y creative effort—a misguided attempt to save money that backfired.

Billboards are tricky business…

It’s tough to do it right, and if you need help with hospital outdoor advertising, please give us a call today. And for additional reference, read this additional article: Billboard Basics: The Challenges of Outdoor Advertising in Healthcare.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



Your proposal will include:

Competitor Intel Icon
Competitor Intel
Recommendations Icon
Our Pricing Icon
Our Pricing

...and much more!

“Despite practicing in a hyper-competitive market, our new-patient counts are double what they were for the same time period last year. Hiring Healthcare Success was one of the best business decisions I have ever made.”

Headshot of Jonathan Calure
– Jonathan Calure, MD

List of recent conversions