For most small business owners, an easy and effective way to advertise your business is by branding your car. Between custom rear window graphics, car magnets, and even full or partial car wraps, many small business owners can put their logo and contact information on their car and turn it into a mobile billboard.

Among the multitude of digital and print advertising methods available for small business owners in 2018, the use of vehicle advertising will not be going away anytime soon. As a low cost and highly customizable option, many are eager to put their logo on their car. But to avoid complications and roadblocks down the road, it’s important to consider the pros and cons before going all in.

Here are 6 pros and cons of vehicle advertising for small businesses:

The Pros of Branding a Vehicle

1. It’s an Upfront, “One-Time” Cost
Business logo decal on truck.

One of the most attractive pros about advertising your business on your car is that it is a “one time” purchase. Unlike digital ads where you typically pay for impressions or conversions each day, this is something that you pay a fixed price for upfront and then forget about it until it needs to be replaced.

A vinyl wrap can last around 5 years or more, depending on how well it is cared for. Perforated window decals can also last 3 years or more with proper installation and care.

On average, it’s estimated that wrapped vehicles get 600-1,000 impressions per mile driven. In large cities and on busy roads, this number is even higher. And while not everyone who sees your brand will be your ideal customer, the cost to exposure ratio is off the charts.

2. You Don’t Have to Buy Another Car

Car lot full of cars

While it makes sense for some business owners to get an entirely separate work vehicle, it may not be the best decision for you.

While you may have to re-register your car as a commercial vehicle depending on the state you live in, doing so would be another way to help you save costs of buying a new vehicle. You can always look into buying a used fuel efficient car if you really want to keep your business and personal assets separate.

3. You Can Be More Productive

Mom driving kids to soccer practice

Whether you’re driving to the gym or picking your kids up from school, having your logo and contact information on your car is a great way to turn heads and get leads while not on the job.

Realtors, who already drive all over the place to showcase homes, would benefit from being able to promote their name simultaneously. You can now be more productive and kill two birds with one stone while doing your everyday driving.

The Cons of Vehicle Advertising

1. It Might Not Be Legal to Brand Your Car

Police officer writing ticket to woman

Depending on where you live, it may be illegal for you to advertise on your car. For example, if your state regulates rear-tinted windows, it’s likely that you would be unable to use some or all methods of advertising on your rear window.

First, check your state laws. Do some research and check with your local DMV or police station for information about vehicle restrictions. You may also be required to re-register the family truck as a commercial vehicle if you are using it to advertise your business. Additionally, you might need a separate business insurance policy in addition to your personal one. To avoid fines and tickets, it’s best to get these details squared away first.

You’ll also want to check your city laws, as it’s not uncommon for mobile advertisements to be regulated (although this tends to be for “moveable billboards” in particular).

If you have a Homeowners Association, you will need to make sure that your car is allowed to be parked on your driveway or street. Some won’t allow vehicles that are plastered with advertisements. Failure to abide by these rules could result in your car getting towed, so save yourself the hassle and consult with your attorney if you need legal advice.

2. You’re Always Representing Your Business

Man road raging in vehicle

Getting rear window graphics installed on your personal vehicle means that you’re now representing yourself and your company 24/7.

Speeding and road raging in a vehicle that promotes your company will only hurt your mobile marketing efforts. You’ll have to be more aware of how you carry yourself, and how your car looks. You may need to get car washes more often or keep the trunk of the vehicle vacuumed and organized.

And of course, there is always the potential for lawsuits. Don’t let that deter you, however; there are ways to set up your business to protect your assets. Consult with your attorney if you need legal advice.

The bottom line: you should be on your best behavior when using vehicle advertising on your personal car.

3. It Could Make Your Friends or Clients Feel Uncomfortable

Nosy neighbors looking over the fence

Depending on your line of work, it could make your friends or clients uncomfortable if your branded car is parked outside of their house.

For example, if you are a marriage counselor, your client may not want their neighbors to know that they are having some family hardships; or maybe your best friend doesn’t want their neighbors to assume that they have something going on, even if you are just there for a casual lunch.

It’s critical to check with your clients first to make sure that they feel comfortable with your car in their driveway or outside of their house. You could always park down the street and walk, but if you have a work van or truck with lots of tools and equipment, this will just make your job more difficult.

Nonetheless, it’s important to consider and respect the privacy of your clients and friends.

Is Car Advertising Worth It?

With a fixed cost upfront, little to no maintenance, and constant exposure while on the road, car advertising is an excellent method to attract new customers. The more you are on the road or parked near areas where your ideal customers are, the better your ROI will be.

With that said, there is no “one size fits all” marketing strategy that is going to work for all types of businesses. It’s important to diversify your marketing efforts and focus on multiple strategies to round out your business well. With today’s insights and tools available for marketers and small business owners, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be advertising on digital platforms — even if you only have $100 to spend on Facebook ads.

Coupled with other marketing strategies, mobile advertising can help to increase local exposure and brand awareness. In my opinion, this is low hanging fruit for many small businesses who need more exposure, and it’s a no-brainer in most cases.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice; please contact your attorney if you need legal advice.

Brennan Flentge

Brennan Flentge

Since 2010, Brennan has utilized his creative intuition to provide branding and marketing services for friends, family, and clients. From graphic design and web development to advertising and SEO, Brennan has slowly built a powerful skill set and regularly shares his knowledge with others. Read more about all things marketing, entrepreneurship, startups and tech (and maybe a little bit about video games, too) at BrennanFlentge.com

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