Vehicle advertising: A good idea or not?

Companies are always looking for new ways to get the word out about their enterprises, whether that’s advertising on social media, reaching out to local customers on supermarket information boards, or incentivising word-of-out business.

For many, wrapping their business vehicles with ads seems like the ideal way to kill two birds with one stone. You have to have a business car or van, so why not use vehicle advertising to market what you do?

Unfortunately, things are never quite that simple. While there are obvious benefits of using vehicles as platforms for advertising, there are also risks and costs. It’s never as straightforward as entrepreneurs imagine. 

In this post, we’re going to take a look at whether vehicle advertising is a good idea or not. While there are clear benefits – which we discuss below – there are also substantial costs of which you must be aware. 

You only pay for it once

Vehicle wrapping was once only something that drag racers did. Since then, it has become more popular, bringing down the price. You can get vehicle wraps for low fees these days, which is opening up the market. Even sole traders now regularly plaster their branding over the vans – particularly their phone and email. 

Most advertising is an ongoing cost. It’s never “set and forget.” Instead, advertisers make ever-increasing demands on your budget, leading you to haemorrhage funds. Marketing soon becomes a millstone around your neck – and it becomes ludicrously challenging to make reasonable returns.

That’s not the case, though, with vehicle wraps. Essentially, you pay a one-time fee and then receive free advertising from that point onwards. There are no ongoing fees or even maintenance. The average wrap can now survive as long as the vehicle itself. And even if you damage a section, replacement costs are usually low compared to the number of impressions you can expect to receive.

Marketing on the road, therefore, is virtually free. Wrapped vehicles get somewhere between 500 and 1000 impressions per mile, which is staggering when you think about it. That’s a tremendous amount of brand exposure over the course of, say, a week or a month. Often wraps pay for themselves in just a few days, generating new leads and conversions like you never imagined. 

It increases productivity

Vehicle advertising comes with another benefit: it helps you increase productivity. How does that work? 

Business owners are typically short on time. They rush from one activity to another, never really stepping back to relax or breathe. Any spare hours of the day they do have are precious. They don’t want to spend them worrying about aspects of their enterprise. Instead, they want to enjoy them to the full, revelling in the fruits of their labour. 

Business vehicle wraps allow you to market your branding with zero personal effort while driving for leisure. You could be taking your kids to school or going on holiday. Yet, your van will still be working hard, exposing people to your brand, and helping to generate new business interest. 

Again, this strategy allows you to kill two birds with one stone. You can live your normal life plus introduce people to your colours and brand markings. Finally, your every day driving becomes useful. 

The evolution of Ford van leasing has come a long way in recent years. Wrapping conventional commercial vehicles is something that most dealers accommodate. Always remember to ask.

The downsides

Of course, it’s not all good news. If vehicle advertising were free from costs and disadvantages, then everyone would be doing it, and they’re not. 

How it makes friends and family feel is probably one of the most significant issues. Some people can feel uncomfortable having advertising sitting on the driveway in front of their homes. 

The same thing applies to clients too. For some businesses, your customers won’t want your branded vehicle sitting outside the front of their home, letting their neighbours know what’s going on. For instance, marriage counsellors probably shouldn’t advertise using their regular cars. Similar, pest control specialists might want to be a little more discreet than regular plumbing or handyman businesses. You get the picture. 

Of course, there are simple workarounds. The simplest is to park your vehicle some distance from your clients’ address. This solution is practical for the counsellor mentioned above, but perhaps not for pest control specialists with heavy equipment. 

You could also try being more subtle with your vehicle advertising to protect clients’ privacy. But this could undermine your core message or dilute your branding, so, again, it’s not ideal. 

A second issue is the fact that you’re always representing your business when you apply wraps to your vehicles. Any bad behaviour on the road by either yourself or your employees will reflect negatively on your brand, putting pressure on everyone in your organization constantly. 

Some business owners actually see this as a good thing because it encourages excellent behaviour, but it is still a risk. Employees aren’t perfect, and they will make mistakes on the road. And when customers see them, they will immediately associate poor driving with your brand.

Merely keeping your vehicle clean is a massive issue too. Companies that use plain white vans don’t have to worry about how dirt and grime make their company appear to the general public. They’re mostly anonymous. But when you advertise, you have to ensure that your van is clean the whole time. It’s what customers expect, and people will judge you otherwise. 

Then there are issues with the law. Public authorities apply strict rules to business owners for a variety of reasons. Many of these regulations relate to safety. Local councils don’t want companies operating vehicles where advertising makes it difficult to see out of the window. They’re also incredibly concerned about anything that could be potentially offensive or misleading. 

Firms, therefore, need to walk a kind of tightrope. You want your advertising to be compelling. But, at the same time, you know that public officials are keeping a beady eye out for anything that might step out of line. 

Some cities have specific laws on how you can and can’t use vehicle advertising, so it’s worth doing your research into what’s allowed. Remember, vehicles are essentially motion billboards, so many of the same rules apply. 

Wrapping up

Vehicle advertising is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you benefit from a one-off upfront cost. You don’t have to pay an advertising agency or platform regular fees, saving you a massive amount of money in the process. On the other hand, there are downsides. Nothing in business or life is ever free. 

Perhaps the biggest concern is that you’re always representing your business if you use your commercial vehicle for everyday driving. You can never really let your guard down. Branding becomes a full-time part of your life, whether you want it to be or not. 

Then there’s the issue of how it might make your clients feel, depending on the type of business you run. Some customers will feel uncomfortable even if you operate a mobile hairdressing outfit. Privacy is top of the agenda for many people. 

Overall, whether you choose to use vehicle advertising depends heavily on your business priorities. Some companies can benefit tremendously from letting local people know who they are and how to contact them. Others benefit by fielding multiple vehicles daily, all displaying company signage and branding. 

With that said, it’s not for everyone, and it may actually work against your brand image if you get it wrong.