If you evaluate your fleet graphics as you would a billboard campaign, you'll find that strong graphics can be an excellent investment. In a month, a $3,000 billboard will deliver hundreds of thousands of impressions. A $3,000 vehicle wrap can deliver a similar number of impressions each month for more than three years — the life of the wrap. What's more, the cost of the wrap can often be folded into the vehicle financing or leasing deal.

Unlike the Interstate billboard seen by thousands of drivers just passing through, your company vehicles travel the neighborhoods where your customers live and where fewer advertising messages are competing for their attention. And now that virtually every car has a cell phone aboard, fleet graphics can be a direct-response medium, not simply brand-building.

Here's how to get the most from your fleet graphics investment:

  • Keep the design simple. Lead with a benefit headline: “Windows that save 20% on energy. Guaranteed.”
  • Resist slogan puffery such as, “Serving the tri-county area since 2002,” in favor of a call to action like, “Get a free quote. Call ….”
  • Get the graphic impact of a full wrap at a lower cost by printing design elements on a film that matches the vehicle's factory paint job and stopping the vinyl at door joints and other natural breaks in the bodywork.
  • See-through film lets you expand your design onto side and back windows. Tinted windows beneath the film will actually improve the brilliance of the design on the outside and the visibility from the inside.
  • If using four-color photographs, select meaningful product shots or the face of a spokesman — no generic beauty shots.
  • When reviewing the proposed design on a standard letter-sized vehicle matrix, don't evaluate it on your desk. View it from 6 feet away. Anything unreadable should be redesigned or omitted.
  • Most importantly, don't consider vehicle graphics as part of your vehicle cost but as part of your advertising investment.

—John Stevens is a partner in Peterson/Stevens an advertising agency specializing in brand-building and lead generation for the home improvement industry. Phone: 800 270 0911; petersonstevens.com