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You’re starting an urgent care center and are ready to promote it on a big, bright billboard. But is a billboard really the best use of your new clinic’s marketing dollars?

Before investing in billboard advertising, make sure you understand how to strategically use this marketing tactic to maximize your urgent care startup’s marketing messaging.

When an Urgent Care Startup Should Use Billboards

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: billboards are rarely effective as a standalone tactic to advertise an urgent care clinic. Cost ranges from $750 to $5,000 per month depending on location, traffic and visibility, and you can’t target your messaging to a specific audience. This means you’ll spend quite a bit of your marketing budget to reach a lot of consumers who will never convert after seeing your billboard because of location, insurance and other factors.

However, that doesn’t mean you should nix billboards completely. There are two strategic ways you can use billboards in your urgent care marketing plan.

  1. Extend an Urgent Care Clinic’s Signage
    The most effective use of billboard advertising for an urgent care startup is to extend the signage of your urgent care clinic to enhance its visibility. The best use is a billboard across the street with an arrow pointing to the clinic, but you can also use the billboard as directional signage with brief text that states something like “urgent care ½ mile ahead on left.” This reinforces the physical location where patients can go to get care when an urgent medical need arises.
  2. Enhance Your Urgent Care’s Radio Campaign
    Visuals are proven to help people comprehend and recall messaging. If you have a radio campaign running, you can use a billboard to enhance that messaging. Drivers hear your commercial on the radio and then drive by the billboard. They are exposed to your messaging twice through two different mediums, solidifying your audience’s comprehension of that messaging and increasing the likelihood they’ll remember it. Because this tactic does not make a connection between medical care and a specific location, it generally works better with an urgent care clinic that is already known in their community. Urgent care startups should wait to use this tactic until they have established themselves in their communities.

Tips for Successful Urgent Care Billboard Ads

An ad design might look great on your small computer screen or a print-out, but remember that it’s going to be blown up to a much larger size and viewed as people drive by. Can they safely read all of the text while driving 45 miles per hour? Will it even grab their attention among all of the other driving distractions? Follow these tips to make sure you get the most out of your billboard investment:

Make it “Right Read”
Make sure your billboard is “right read” or on the right side of the road so it’s easier for drivers to see and read your ad. Because there are so many factors vying for their attention, drivers may not even notice your billboard if it’s on the left side of the road.

Research Traffic Counts
If your billboard is located on a street that doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic, you won’t get a good return on your investment. Check the traffic counts for proposed locations to ensure your billboard will be seen by enough people to justify the cost.

Drive by Proposed Locations
So your proposed billboard location gets a lot of traffic, but how visible will your billboard be to drivers? The best way to determine if your billboard is highly visible is to drive by any proposed locations to experience it yourself. Look for anything that might obstruct a driver’s view of your billboard, such as power lines, another billboard, business signage and more. Also, pay attention to the speed limit. The faster the speed limit, the less time drivers have to read your billboard.

Keep It Simple
Remember: Drivers have only a few seconds to notice, read, and comprehend your billboard messaging. When you do your drive-by of proposed locations, pay attention to how much messaging you’re able to read and comprehend on existing billboards based on the location and speed limit. This will help you determine how to design your billboard. Resist the urge to fill your billboard with text, and keep the design simple, such as “Urgent Care” with a directional arrow and the name and logo of the practice. If a tagline is required, keep it short. “Walk-in care for illness and injury” will suffice.

Billboards are an expensive investment that can eat up your marketing budget really quickly. However, when used strategically, they can effectively bring in more foot traffic to your clinic. Remember to integrate billboard advertising into your overall marketing plan rather than using them as a standalone marketing tactic, and do your research before signing that ad contract. This will ensure you get the most bang for your marketing buck.

This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.

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