Driving a mobile billboard

Features - Equipment

6 tips to maximize your vehicle wrap as a marketing tool.

September 14, 2020

Vehicle wraps act as a marketing tool for your company 24/7.
Photo courtesy of Capital Wraps

Landscape contractors can commiserate with the wasted time spent stuck in traffic, burning gas to get to the next job.

But what if that traffic could be a source of new business instead of headaches? What if your trailer or vehicle could promote your services for you? The right wrap can do that.

“Vehicle wraps are perfect for landscape trailers, specifically, because whether your company is residential or commercial, the trailers are (parked) in front of your clients' neighbors every time you provide service,” says Torri Westmoreland, who started In-Depth Wraps with her husband in Atlanta 18 years ago. “Vehicle wraps are marketing all the time.”

According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, a single vehicle wrap can generate between 30,000 to 70,000 impressions each day. That’s more than 2,000 impressions per dollar invested – giving wraps the lowest cost per thousand impressions compared to outdoor ads, radio, television or print media advertising.

But your mobile billboard might only be in front of someone’s eyes for a few seconds as they drive by, so it’s critical to maximize your marketing potential. Here are six tips from the pros to enhance your brand image with a wrap.

1. Tell a story...

The biggest mistake Westmoreland sees is when companies just want to “put some stickers on a trailer” before thinking carefully about the brand story they want to tell.

Capital Wraps, a vehicle wrap company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, helps clients define a strategy by filling out creative briefs to define their ideal customers and the message they want to send.

“You have to have a clear understanding of what your company is and how you want to portray it,” says Keoni Denison, director of business development. “You need to understand who you’re trying to target so we can make the design more compelling for that audience.”

The imagery on your wrap should showcase solutions for your target demographic, whether it’s young families playing in the backyard, older couples relaxing on the patio or perhaps a pristinely landscaped entryway.

Consistency is key but that doesn’t mean repeating the same image on every side of each trailer. For example, “if a company does residential and commercial work equally,” Westmoreland says, “we can design different sides of the trailer for different demographics.”

Photo courtesy of In-Depth Wraps

2. …but keep it short.

Once you decide what to depict on your wrap, pare down your message to the bare minimum.

“Design it so you can get most of the key information in less than three seconds as you’re driving down the road,” Denison says. “Who are they, what do they do, and what’s their contact information? If it’s cluttered or the words are hidden in the graphics, it won’t be legible.”

One of the biggest mistakes Westmoreland sees is too much info crammed into wraps, like a full list of services instead of a few.

“A vehicle wrap is not a brochure. It’s a moving billboard, so you want the least amount of information with the highest impact,” Westmoreland says. “One area where we might recommend putting additional text is on the rear, because when someone is stuck behind you in traffic, you have extra time with their eyeballs. But on the side of a trailer, we try to limit our customers to three services.”

“Design it so you can get most of the key information in less than three seconds as you’re driving down the road.” Keoni Denison, director of business development, Capital Wraps

3. Know your budget.

The most common misconception about wraps, Denison and Westmoreland agree, is assuming that they’re all or nothing. Don’t overlook the potential of partial wraps to maximize limited budgets.

“As long as the design is effective, it’s not necessary to cover every square foot of a trailer,” Westmoreland says. “Maybe you can partially wrap two trailers for the same cost that you would fully wrap one.”

If your budget can only wrap either a truck or a trailer, Westmoreland might lean toward the trailer.

“Trailers are the easiest opportunity for vehicle wraps because they’re literally rolling billboards. You have fewer obstructions and body angles to consider, versus wrapping a truck,” she says. “I’d recommend lettering the truck and wrapping the trailer so they both have the brand, but the billboard tells the story.”

4. Use it.

You wouldn’t cover up a billboard at night, so don’t hide your vehicle wrap.

“One thing we tell all of our clients after we give them back the keys to their baby is not to hide it,” Westmoreland says. “You have this beautiful moving billboard, so go use it.”

She encourages clients to show off their wraps at community events, tradeshows and other high-traffic areas. Wrapped trailers can boost your brand visibility, even when you’re off the clock.

“Take your truck or trailer with you wherever you go. If you’re off on the weekend, go park it somewhere great, like an outdoor event or festival,” she says. “If there’s an opportunity to park it, you have an opportunity to market.”

Photo courtesy of In-Depth Wraps
“If there’s an opportunity to park it, you have an opportunity to market.” Torri Westmoreland, owner, In-Depth Wraps

5. Keep your fleet clean.

Make sure your wrap presents the best image possible by using quality material and protecting it over time.

“Most landscaping companies use their vehicles until they cannot use them anymore, so the longevity of the wrap is critical,” Westmoreland says.

Inferior materials can fail or fade within a year, Denison says. Even if they hold up, they could pull the paint off your trailer when you remove them. Both In-Depth Wraps and Capital Wraps rely on premium material that lasts about five years. Trailer wraps often last longer than other vehicle wraps “because all the surfaces are vertical,” Westmoreland says, “so trailers are more cost-effective if we’re talking about longevity.”

During that lifespan, proper care helps preserve wraps against the elements. Denison recommends a silicone-based spray wax after installation, followed by routine cleaning with soap and water. “Keeping it clean will extend the life of it,” he says, “but when it starts looking bad, you need to make it look better because it speaks to your company brand.”

In fact, Westmoreland says wraps tend to get more attention right after a wash. “If you’ve got dirt, salt or clay creating a layer of grime over your moving billboard, then your message is harder to see – and it says something about your company’s reputation,” she says. “You wouldn’t hand someone a crumbled-up business card with coffee stains on it. In the same way, you want to present your vehicle wrap as professionally as possible.”

6. Drive targeted growth.

Vehicle wraps can be key to unlocking growth.

Denison’s clients have reported that their call rate increased by 75% in one month after wrapping a vehicle. Another client gets “an additional 10 calls a month by having their car out on the road – which is 120 calls a year, and 600 calls over a five-year period,” he says. “That’s about $50-$60 a month when you break down the cost.”

Some of In-Depth Wraps’ customers generate half of their business through vehicle graphics, according to the company’s website. One client even uses wraps to build new business. “It sounds like putting the cart before the horse, but it works,” Westmoreland says. “They wrap a vehicle first and then create the market from it.”

Whether you’re driving down a crowded highway or conveniently parked in a neighborhood where you see growth potential, a well-wrapped trailer captures attention and creates credibility.

“It’s a lot easier to trust a landscape company that shows up with a professional image on their trucks, than someone who shows up with a magnet that can be easily removed,” Westmoreland says. “(Vehicle wraps) offer legitimacy, and that’s a real benefit in the landscape industry.”

The author is a freelance writer based in Ohio.