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How to Advertise with Posters
and WHY?

Advertising with posters presents a number of problems and opportunities that don't exist with other media.  The single major obstacle is best phrased by the real estate adage, location, location, location.  The property, or product in this case, is not as important as the location.  The second problem is creating a poster that attracts attention and quickly delivers the message.  If you correctly address these issues, the opportunity can not be replaced by any other form of advertising.  Why? Posters not only command you to act now, but create a memory peg that you will use to act on at a later time.

The most obvious example of the application of poster advertising is at the movie theater, especially since the evolution of the multiplex.  You are greeted in the lobby, if not in front of the building, by dozens of posters vying for your attention.  Have you ever attended a movie based on the impression the poster gave you?  I have, and I believe that you have also.

Financial marketing with posters is big business.  Posters are quite effective when located in the bank with a good message about your money.  You are waiting on line "captive audience" and see a picture of an attractive beach scene with the words "vacation loan" written across it.  Effective? You ask for a loan application when you get to the teller.

Prominently placed posters on the outside of a business in a high traffic area make a lot of sense.  It can take the place of a display window for products or services offered inside.  A luxury that many modern buildings don't offer today.

As you see in the previous examples, location and message are integrally tied together.  It wouldn't make much sense to put a movie poster in a bank or a loan offer in a theater.

How do I get started?

  • Market research
  • Design a poster
  • Location

Market Research

Market research is the single most important step in any advertising campaign.  With the high cost of advertising today, few companies can afford the shotgun approach for the production of posters or for purchasing ad time or space.  Your research should bring focus to who your customers are and the three W's.  What do they buy?  Where do they buy?  When do they buy?

Obviously, the purpose of this research is to get these customers to buy from you.  Knowing their buying habits makes selling them much easier.  Good market research should show you the reasons that consumers buy a particular product or service.  Consumers are people, and people purchase goods and services for the perceived benefits.  Using this information takes you to the next step

Designing a Poster

If your market research is adequate, this process will fall into place fairly quickly.  Based on the information you have, design your poster to appeal to the motivating factors behind the purchase.  Good poster design is very different from brochures and other print media.  Although an effective advertising campaign should be consistent and uniformly identifiable, posters convey their message in a unique way.  The image or pictorial should create a mental picture of the desired results by the viewer.  The printed message, informing the viewer of the action necessary to get to the desired result, should be minimal.  No one looks at a poster and takes notes, OK, almost no one.  Travel posters should show destinations.  Attraction posters should show people having fun.  Candle posters should show candles in relaxing decor.  Whether you are selling lawn mowers or landscaping services, lawn mowing posters should show manicured lawns.  Nothing runs like a Deere , on a manicured lawn of course.

I must admit that I use this paragraph in all my advertising articles.  It is important and worth repeating over and over and....  Avoid the big mistake.  Don't be so enamored by your product or service that you emphasize it rather than the benefit the consumer receives.  People buy what they perceive as good for them.  When you buy an airline ticket, you are actually purchasing the destination, not the trip.  When you purchase a cruise, you are purchasing the trip, not the destination.

The make it or break it decision in poster design is the graphic.  Yes, the font, style, logo, color of the message is important, but if no one looks at the poster, what difference does it make?  I personally like simple, uncomplicated pictures that make impressions that don't confuse people.  Show me a portrait of a starving child and I'll send you money.  Show me a tropical island and I'll buy a ticket, lotto or airline.  Show me a poster with 30 products and a lot of information on it and I'll look at something more pleasant.  Pick a pictorial that attracts attention.  Be creative, the subject has only to be subliminally related to the product or service you are selling.

The combination of pictorial and message is what makes poster advertising unique.  If properly executed, the graphic creates a mnemonic or memory peg for the written message.  Some pictures can be so compelling that they need only a phone number or address to complete the message.

On to the mechanical part.  Posters are available in an amazing variety of formats and sizes.  Some can be inexpensive and effective.  Most posters sell from $10.00 to $30.00 depending on the quality and quantity.  Sizes run from 8" by 10" to 27" by 41" or 24" by 48" in standard sizes and almost any dimensions in custom wide format printing.

Consider how you will display your posters before committing to a size that you can not find a way to display.  It's one thing to tack a poster on a wall and totally different to display a poster in a professional businesslike manner.

Pick a printer with experience in the poster industry.  There are number of very good options online these days, with competitive prices.  Vista Print, PS Print, and 48 Hour Print   Search the web.  The printing industry is huge and competitive.

If you are or if you know of a great poster printer, please contact me at so I can include your link in this article.


OK, you did due diligence on the market research, designed your poster and found a great printer.  Now it's time to get the information out.  Part of your market research told you where to find your prospective customers.  That is exactly where you want them to find your posters.  If you are promoting a local business of general interest, display your posters in that market.  Locally owned small businesses and government agencies will give you space if you provide them with attractive non-obtrusive poster holders.  We have some top quality poster holders and outdoor cabinets at DisplayTime.

If you are promoting your product or service on a regional or national platform, you will need to reach out to other sources.  Among these may be,

  • Distribution within your own organization
  • Distribution among wholesale customer base
  • Point of Purchase locations
  • Extreme pedestrian traffic locations
  • Poster giveaways to retail customers

I did a web search to find resources for poster distribution.  Unless you live in the U.K. or Australia, you're out of luck.  Here's a niche business opportunity for someone in the U.S.

Distribution among your own organization, wholesale, or retail customer base is a no-brainer.  These are consumers that already know you, your products or services and is obviously your best source of new business.  Present your new product or service differently than you have in the past.  Make an impact.

One final tip.  Change your poster or message occasionally.  If you leave it in one place too long, it becomes part of the environment and no one looks at it

Questions, comments, ideas, input