Outdoor advertising for MSMEs

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J. ALBERT GAMBOA

J. ALBERT GAMBOA

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) comprise more than 98 percent of all businesses in the Philippines, based on statistics from the Department of Trade and Industry. Majority of them do not advertise at all due to a “build it and they will come” mentality.

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The MSMEs’ reluctance to promote their products or services mostly stems from fear and misconception. Often it is also because they don’t have the money or the time to embark on a promotional campaign. But a study conducted by global firm NRS Media revealed 59 percent of the MSMEs that had advertised also reported a direct increase in sales.

Another misconception is that advertising and promotions are the exclusive domain of big corporations. Many small business owners think this involves large-scale television campaigns with huge budgets and great risks.

They don’t realize that 82 percent of consumers see unfamiliar brands as risky, according to the same NRS Media survey. The survey arrived at a conclusion that “getting the brand out there and gaining exposure is vital for success.”

The smallest form of MSME is the microbusiness, which normally has less than 10 personnel. None of them can afford to use ad agencies, though they actually need advertising methods that deliver a healthy return on their investments.

This is where outdoor advertising, also known as out-of-home (OOH) media, comes in handy for MSMEs.

Targeting consumers on the move in public places, OOH is a relatively simple method to reach a big market at locations that ensure exposure to lots of potential customers. These sites are deliberately chosen for the amount of passing traffic and footfall resulting in adverts that can’t be ignored.

Since people usually link outdoor ads with the big firms, this strategy should work in the MSMEs’ favor by boosting their profile and leaving an impression of prestige and importance on their target audience.

In Metro Manila, one of the pioneering OOH providers is MacGraphics Carranz (MGC), which has been around for more than 30 years. At one point, MGC put up the world’s biggest billboard beside Guadalupe Bridge in Makati City.

Aside from billboards, MGC’s ad platforms include LED displays, lamppost banners, scrolling lightboxes, die-cut signages, tollgate streamers, and large-format printing on tarpaulins.

Recently, San Miguel Corporation’s property arm awarded MGC the exclusive right to operate OOH platforms along the Metro Manila Skyway, the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road Tollway, the South Luzon Expressway, and the NAIA Expressway.

Mandaluyong City has likewise tapped MGC to light up the streets of the “Tiger City” with giant LED billboards and to offer local citizens the so-called “Times Square experience,” just like that landmark of New York City famous for its bright lights and busy intersections.

MGC operations manager Troy Alcala said MSMEs with limited budgets could choose more affordable OOH platforms and customize the number of placements or ad spots. This gives them an opportunity to narrow down their choices of audience depending on the location.

Alcala believes the OOH industry does not intend to overshadow other forms of media but basically enhances the existing ones. “With lifestyle changes in the Philippines, such as the increase in traffic congestion, BPO call center employment, and spending power, Filipinos will have more reasons to be on the road, which translates to a bigger captive audience for OOH,” he said.

The faster the MSMEs recognize the fact that outdoor advertising is not only for the corporate giants, the sooner they will gain the benefits of targeting local markets.

The author is chief financial officer of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and serves as co-chairman of the FINEX Media Affairs Committee.

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