How to Turn a Car Into a Moving Advertisement

The bumper sticker could be classified as the greatest marketinginvention in the world. Add a pinch of steroids, and it can grow into the colorful vehicle wrap. Whether you’re looking to advertise your business on your auto, or you’re interested in selling advertising space on your “Mobile Billboard,” here’s how to maximize your vehicle’s exposure.


  1. Find your target audience and plan to hit them hard. Are potential customers really going to see your car? It doesn’t help if you plan to wrap your car in bright, eye-popping graphics only to garage the beast! Are you in a high-traffic area where your customersdrive,? Or, do you commute on the freeway? Are you parking the vehicle in a strategic spot where people stop and look around while at a stop light? Just remember, it’s like a mobile mini-billboard, and to maximize your exposure, you need to understand where potential customers are driving, walking, sitting, and looking.
  2. Set aside a marketing budget and figure out what time of the day you want to target versus your driving/parking patterns. Maybe you spend $1,000 on having custom graphics printed for your vehicle and you throw another $1,000 into a scrolling LED billboard to catch the rest of your customers at dusk. Or, maybe you spend $500 on vinyl lettering and $100 on glow-in-the-dark signs. You just might be able to reach the same amount of customers for less investment!
  3. Set your car apart. The more your vehicle stands out, the better your chances of drawing attention to the business it’s advertising. Choose bright, eye-catching colors and designs. In this case, tacky and ugly can be good, because as people notice how your vehicle is lacking any kind of aesthetics, they’ll probably read the writing on it, too.
  4. Check into printing quotes for wrapping your car in a driving, effective, eye-popping, attention-grabbing colorful graphic that conveys the identity or message of the business you’re advertising. Realize, though, that these options tend to run $3,000 or more on the budget when compared to cheaper vinyl-cut lettering or magnetic decals, but can be worth the investment because, let’s face it, it’s easier to overlook a magnetic decal. Maybe you can go half-way with a $500 perforated graphic on your rear window. Anything that’s unique with a little appeal will do an effective job of marketing for you.
  5. Command attention in the dark. Think of all the night life out there. Many people fail to realize they have another 12 hours they’re missing by not addressing the night time market. It’s a time when relaxed executives are more apt to make changes to their business lives, and you can squeeze into that prime time with your marketing! Ever seen the taxi cabs in New York with the fancy LCD panels mounted to them? Or how about the scrolling LED signs speeding down the length of a Greyhound bus? Both are effective forms of advertising in the dark because they attract your attention. Some people even purposefully leave their auto’s DVD players on while at the show and play infomercials that catch the eye of curious passers-by. If you can’t afford the technological route, look into buying custom glow-in-the-dark stickers, decals, and signs. It’s a much cheaper alternative to the LED scrolling signs or the LCD panels.
  6. Put the plan to action! Whether it’s in print or it’s in lights, the important thing is to know where your customers are and hit them during that time of the day.
  7. Give your audience a follow up plan! Yes, a complete vehicle wrap with custom graphics and scrolling LEDs will certainly attract attention, but what good is it if your viewer doesn’t know how to get your service or buy your product? Give out a website or phone number! Clip fliers or business cards to the doors so passers by can bring some of the advertisement home with them! As long as the viewers know how to act on the advertisement you displayed to them, your marketing investment is effectively spent.


  • The level of investment tends to govern the quality of the job, but more importantly, the integrity of your image. A true vehicle wrap has tremendous appeal and makes you look more credible than a magnet would, but it comes at a hefty price!
  • Check with local sign shops before committing to a vehicle wrap for thousands of dollars. A good one might be pricey, but it might be overpriced if it’s outsourced. Always use a sign shop that has their own solvent printer and experienced installers. Ask for a portfolio of work!
  • Magnetic decals might look hokey, but they can identify your brand or identity during select times of the day with your choice to remove them for privacy later. Maybe you don’t want to be caught advertising a political campaign when you’re driving through an activist part of town?!


  • Check with local enforcement before pursuing illuminated messaging in the dark. Some states disallow blinking or animated lights. Others will only permit certain colors, like red, white, or amber, to be used inside of a moving vehicle and have codes against front-window visibility. Not all states are the same! You can always put illuminated signs in your car when parked or while at shows or expositions to grab attention.
  • Be sure your sign shop or vehicle graphic installer uses ONLY a solvent-based print with a good protective overlaminate or the job will deteriorate within six months. Ask about guarantees for quality workmanship.
  • Car advertisements can attract potential thieves because of the higher probability that you have something of value in your car.

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This entry was posted on Friday, December 9th, 2011 at 11:35 pm and is filed under Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.