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Taking It To The Streets

Vehicle wraps and the value of visibility

More than ever, businesses today are looking for the most economical ways to reach potential customers. Yellow Pages advertising has lost ground to Internet marketing and other current media solutions. Everyone is fighting for Web visibility and still learning how to be effective online.

There is, however, a current trend in advertising that guarantees high visibility and doesn’t require the Geek Squad to figure out. For those in the material handling business, chances are you are already holding the key—the key to your service van, that is—the message and graphics that go on it.

A company’s information and logo on a truck or van is nothing new to businesses, but a lot has changed in the world of vehicle graphics. For many generations, cut letter vinyl (decaling) has been the standard in company advertising on a vehicle. However, with the advancements in large and grand format digital printing, the ability to impact the message has turned the old method on its head. This new method is known as the vehicle wrap, and it’s all about taking your advertisement to the streets.

Vehicle wraps are also known as moving or rolling billboards. Your service van is the platform, and the wrap is an ad, fully designed and printed on large sheets of special adhesive vinyl and then installed over the finish of the vehicle. Think of it as wallpapering your vehicle. One of the first wrapped vehicles was a bus ad for Crystal Pepsi done by SuperGraphics Inc. in Seattle, Washington, in 1993. There have since been many other types of vehicles wrapped, including service vans, box trucks, pick-ups and autos. There are full wraps, which typically provide complete graphic coverage on the hood, sides and rear of a vehicle. Rear windows may even be covered with a perforated vinyl, which helps enlarge the ad without compromising the driver’s view. There are also partial wraps, which incorporate elements of a full wrap and are usually accompanied by additional decals. A graphic designer uses vehicle template software to proportionally design to that specific vehicle. Logos, photos, fonts, shapes and colors can all be incorporated to create a high-impact ad that is visible on the road.

Impact and ROI
With any type of graphics on it, your company vehicle becomes an extension of your corporate brand identity and makes a statement about your company. Great graphics can make your image shine, while poor ones can leave you dull and lost in traffic. Incorporating great graphics is where ROI for wraps can tip the scale against cost.

Compared with other types of advertising—e.g. Yellow Pages, billboards, magazines and Web banners—there is great value in vehicle advertising. Wraps for most service vans used in the material handling industry typically range from $2,000 to $3,500. When properly cared for, wraps can last for more than five years. A $2,400 vehicle ad would cost $480 per year. By generating one new service customer, you could realistically cover the cost of the whole ad.

According to the Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement, a vehicle wrap generates anywhere between 30,000 and 70,000 impressions daily. That’s more than 11 million impressions per year, at a cost of just $0.77 per thousand impressions. The next-closest form of advertising (billboards) costs more than twice as much ($2.18) to generate the same amount of impressions, according to the EBS Business Journal Online.

In another study quoted in the June 2007 issue of Digital Output Online, the American Trucking Associations and Outdoor Advertising Association of America found that the cost-per-thousand of viewers reached by a vehicle wrap ($0.70) is much less compared to other advertising media—$20.54 for primetime TV spots, $5.92 for morning radio and $1.78 for billboards.

There are also variations on the value brought about through vehicle wrap advertising. For some businesses, it is purely advertising and a new way to drive business. For others, it is all about branding and creating continuity in their corporate message.

Other key points to consider when setting your ROI objectives for wrapping your vehicles:

• Design – Have a professional design your wrap for highest impact and chance of success.

• Installation – Use only certified installers. A bad in-stall wastes time and money.

• Warranty – Make sure you get a warranty to cover installation and material.

• Taxes – Wraps are 100 percent tax deductible as an advertising expense.

Financing – Wraps can be incorporated into a monthly payment. Co-op funding may also be available from your factory partners.

• Resale Value – Wraps protect the vehicle finish against the sun, minor scratches and small chips and will not scar the finish like decals do. The buyer or leasing company is saved from repainting, which improves your resale value by up to 20 percent.

• Branding – Wrapping an old-looking vehicle can make it look brand new. Remember, your van makes a statement about your company.

Before (left) and after pictures
of a wrapped service vehicle

 

To Wrap or Not to Wrap
As with any investment, there are some potential pitfalls to consider before moving forward. Just as a great design can give someone a reason to call, a poorly designed wrap can have, at best, an indifferent response or, at worst, a negative impact.

If your service routes are in low-trafficked areas, the ROI stands to be less than in more populated areas. In such a case, companies may only wrap those vehicles traveling in the heaviest traffic.

The type of vehicle you have makes a difference. Some vehicles do not provide the best space for advertising.  Vehicles with large, flat areas usually provide the best platforms to display images.

Some might say cost is an issue. However, even partial wraps are priced about the same as a decal package.

Test the Waters
While the market is showing some signs of improvement, no one is touting a full recovery. This makes it all the more important to generate opportunities. If you are not in a position to convert your whole fleet, you might at least consider wrapping one or two of the vans that travel the most trafficked roads in your territory. Dedicate a toll-free number to your wraps to measure the call volume generated. Also consider what a partial wrap can do to improve your brand visibility on the road. The cost is comparable to a standard decal kit, and it will have an impact.

Street Smarts
Full wrap or partial wrap, companies are seeing tremendous value in vehicle visibility. The technology and design capability are there to improve your visibility in the marketplace. So instead of counting each and every mile as an expense, why not counter the cost with ROI from potential calls and referrals generated with every car passed. Chances are you’ll also get a second look when driving through those industrial parks where you wish you had more market share. With great graphics, you’ll never have to fret about your vans being stuck in traffic again. You’ll always have a captive audience!

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Paul Bilson Meet the Author
Paul Bilson is regional account manager at Graphics Central, Inc., located in Atlanta, Georgia, and on the Web at www.graphicscentralinc.com.