Today’s episode was filmed with Ben Ralston in Dallas inside the Advertising Display Cube. The audio is great but here is a transcript of the conversation.
(Rod Collins) Welcome to the Bulldog Vlog, it’s episode number five and I’m here with Ben Ralston. We talked about experiential marketing and at home advertising and you are the first bonafide expert at out of home advertising. You’ve been the sign guy for how many years now?
Ben Ralston: Well, I’ve been, I guess technically, I’ve a sign guy since I was probably in sixth grade, but professionally since 2002.
Interviewer: I’m somebody who was paying you in the sixth grade too.
Ben Ralston: Yeah, they paid me a little bit, here and there. Here and there to sweep floor and scrape billboard panels.
Interviewer: So tell us about Rolston Outdoor Enterprise.
Ben Ralston: Well, Rolston Outdoor was started in 1976, it’s been a family company, my dad and I worked together and it’s been a lot of fun. We’re sort of a small fish in a big pond here in DFW, but we try to compete with our other local competitor and we try to compete with our national competitors as well.
Interviewer: How many billboards do you have in north Texas then?
Ben Ralston: We have a little over 200 faces in north Texas.
Interviewer: Okay. Well, that’s significant and are they mostly around Dallas?
Ben Ralston: The core of our plan is in Dallas and the surrounding counties and then we have some inventory going south to Waco and then out east and some on the western side of Fort Worth as well.
Interviewer: Do you like the major highways or are you involved in the tertiary markets as well?
Ben Ralston: I would say, for the most part, our principal units are interstate based, US highway based, but we certainly have boards on ancillary roads, farm to market roads, county roads, and, of course, in Dallas we have some on the arterial roads.
Interviewer: So, in all your years’ experience, what advice do you have for the guy who is going to hire somebody to put up a billboard for their business? What are the three most important things to think about?
Ben Ralston: Well, I think, you want to create your best opportunity for exposure in a marketplace and I think a lot of it had to do with the economics of your budget, what you can pay, and I think that the great thing about Dallas and DFW is there are opportunities that really, outdoor-wise, can meet just about every budget. I would say, obviously, the creative is a very important aspect of out of home. Around our shop, we typically still go with the old ten words or less, we’re big into contrasting colors that really can pop a message out there to your consumers.
And I just would say, how to reach your target audience, be it a mobile billboard, be it a LED billboard on a highway or be is a poster rotation, I think that has a big part of the decision for any advertisers, is how they want to reach their consumer. I think one thing that’s good is, hopefully there is some opportunities to have a good medium mix with different form of out of home. Whether it’s on one of these developments, like Mockingbird Station where you could be on a Kiosk or on a wall-scape. You could have mobile billboard like Bulldog, or you could have a standard traditional freeway sign like we have and have that kind of mix and hopefully get top of mind awareness.
Interviewer: You mentioned ten words or less, how long have does someone have when their driving on a highway to see and actually read a billboard?
Ben Ralston: Well, for the most part, it’s really about eight seconds. Now, when you got major freeways like we have in Dallas, like LBJ and some portions of Stemmons, if you pinpoint the right time of day during peak rush hour traffic, that eight seconds can turn into almost a minute sometimes.
Ben Ralston: If you are looking at a stationary billboard, of course, that’s great for us, but by and large, if the traffic’s flowing good, it’s a quick read and that’s where it becomes important to have good contrasting colors, a strong logo or brand if you’re going to have that on you copy and then a couple of taglines and that’s it.
Interviewer: How do you feel about the future of digital billboards?
Ben Ralston: I feel that it’s a great opportunity. For a small company like ours, the economics were a bit of a deterrent just from the startup costs to get these installed. We did end up doing a couple of them, but it has not been a major portion of our business that we’ve really pursued. In the billboard business here we have some regulatory constraints here locally in Dallas that make it difficult to convert more of our inventory into LED and I think if you couple that with the economics of it, we’re kind of content staying with traditional vinyl print signage.
Interviewer: I know you’re dabbling, in Dallas anyway, in the restaurant business. Have you had success with your billboards advertising your restaurants?
Ben Ralston: For the Katy Trail Ice House, a couple of times a year, we will put out some creative that I think has been really pretty good for the Ice House and for Ralston Outdoor and it’s an opportunity for the Ice House to get up on a major freeway and Ralston Outdoors up there. It kind of acts as a dual promotion for both businesses and typically will be on a roundtable schedule where as soon as we sell the space, we’ll take it down and move it along. And we’ve done some holiday stuff for the Ice House on billboards. It’s been kind of a fun thing to do.
Interviewer: That’s great. If you ever have any empty space on your billboards, to have a business that can use it or can utilize it.
Ben Ralston: Absolutely.
Interviewer: All right, tell everybody what your website is or how to get a hold of you.
Ben Ralston: Yep, our website is ralstonoutdoor.com and for billboard sales, it’s just firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interviewer: Very good. That’s the hardest part for me, is sales. Very good, thank you very much. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below and subscribe to the channel and remember that you have a choice of out of home and experiential in your marketing mix, please remember to choice out of home and experimental in your marketing mix. See you down the road.
About Bulldog Mobile Billboards:
Bulldog Mobile Billboards offers a unique alternative to traditional radio, television and outdoor advertising. With a mission to provide businesses with remarkable mobile adverting vehicle campaigns to help break through today’s media clutter, Bulldog Mobile Billboards uses targeted messaging that generates results. Bulldog Mobile Billboards uses its unique truck-mounted and vinyl wrapped glass box vehicles. In addition to three styles and sizes of glass walled display trucks, Bulldog Mobile Billboards operates over sized billboard trucks, bicycle street teams and recently unveiled the first ever Advertising Display Cube. The AdverDisplayCube is a mobile, transparent showcase with 360 degrees of glass walls for transparency and hundreds of square feet of exterior real estate for brand messaging. This mobile advertising display trailer features power on board for lighting and climate control. This vehicle is perfect as a pop up store, showcase, trade show booth, and for tailgating. The entire fleet is available nationwide and in Canada. Hop on board with Bulldog Mobile Billboards and drive forward into the mobile advertising world. For a sales kit or more information about advertising, please contact Rod Collins at Rod@BulldogBillboards.com, call the New York office (212) 726.2355 or Dallas office (214)724-2729.