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Selling Stadium Wraps and Not Losing Your Shorts

Pricing a stadium wrap can get a little hairy, but if you approach measurements with the right mindset youíll put more profits in your pocket. Find out how.

By Jennifer LeClaire

Donít let a mammoth opportunity intimidate you. Discover some guidelines for selling stadium wraps and build a new niche for your business.

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  • Learning how to navigate the challenges of stadium wraps is one thing. Convincing major league facilities ≠ or even collegiate athletic departments ≠ that they should invest in this cutting-edge outdoor advertising scheme is another story altogether.

    Now that youíve honed your vinyl wrapping skills, itís time to take the necessary steps to understand how to sell stadium wraps, and all the little ancillary wraps, banners and directional signage that could also come your way when you build a relationship with a sports organization.

    Remember, itís not just about the wrapping. That might be your current pitch, but keep in mind that stadiums hold promotions that could lead to quick and profitable vinyl banner jobs and other types of signage for special events. So as you begin to approach the opportunity, keep the big picture in mind.

    Selling the Opportunity
    When you approach selling stadium wraps, consider how the operator might defray the costs. For example, point to the sheer number of impressions. Even small stadiums can seat more than 10,000 people. Large stadiums hold eight times that many.

    Even if a visitor only stays in one quadrant of the stadium, a good number of those visitors will see the signage scattered all around venue. For your stadium signage selling purposes, that means selling the concept of the venue seeking sponsors for various projects that help spread the cost of developing the signage.

    The venue could partner with Coca-Cola or Nike, for example, to promote the next season or a special ceremony at the site. The bottom line is this: the stadium operator can sell wraps as just one more opportunity in the advertising mix at the site. Itís your job to sell wraps as an option in that mix.

    Also consider that itís not just sports fans in the demographic pool. As already mentioned, stadiums are often home to special events, including car shows, music concerts, circuses, comedy events. The list goes on and on.

    It could be that you have a wrap for all seasons, as it were, on trash receptacles, in restrooms or at concession stands. Again, itís a matter of demonstrating to the operator how he will benefit and how he can profit from mixing wraps into sponsorship packages.

    You can also point to the success of outdoor advertising in general to sell your stadium operator, and to help them sell their advertisers. Out of home advertising industry revenue grew 3% in the first quarter of 2008, accounting for $1.6 billion in advertising expenditures.

    ďDespite a slowing economy, the out of home industry posted a moderate gain in the first quarter of 2008Ē, says Stephen Freitas, Chief Marketing Officer for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. ďOut of home media continues to perform better than other traditional media segments.Ē

    Pricing the Installations
    The million-dollar question many of you are asking is: How do I price a stadium installation? Despite the monolithic nature of some of these jobs, you donít have to develop a rocket science formula to price them at a profit.

    Gary Lucke, owner of FastSigns in St. Petersburg, Fla. suggests a traditional method of square foot pricing ≠ with a twist. See, there is a difference between measured square foot and effective print square foot area. Thatís where you need to proceed with some wisdom and a little caution because sometimes you could be talking about a fairly vast difference. Lucke offers a common example. Letís say you have a wall thatís 10 feet wide. If you print your graphics on 54-inch media, then you will have to print two panels. Even if you maximize the width of the panel you are not free and clear of pricing complications. Thatís because you can run into snags with the laminate. The laminate is at least equal to the size of the media. That prohibits you from doing long runs.

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    ďIf you have two panels that run 50 inches wide, then thatís 100 inches. But you have 120 inches on a eight-foot wall. So two panels isnít going to cover that,Ē Lucke says. ďReally, you have an effective print square foot area of 24 by four and a half even though your effective measured square feet is only eight by 10.Ē

    Calculating the Hidden Costs
    The moral of the story? Actual media usage is about a third more than what you would expect if you merely measure square footage. And thatís if there arenít any panels that have to be reprinted based on computer, printer or human error. You have to accommodate for all of these factors in your pricing model if you donít want to wind up taking a loss on materials.

    You also have to take into account what types of materials are best suited for the job because different wraps may call for different vinyls. For stadium walls and beams and poles Lucke uses 3Mís 8624 media, which he says is highly comparable in price to 180C Controltac. The overlaminate for these films is also about the same price.

    ďYou donít have to make a lot of complicated calculations,Ē Lucke says. ďYou can virtually think of it as vehicle wrapping or small wrapping. You know, thatís the way I have considered it from the start and it has worked well for us.Ē

    Of course, you also have to take into consideration labor costs. Thatís a little trickier if youíve never done it, and you may need to get creative. Liken it to other experiences youíve had, and leave some padding in there to cover the X factors.

    Itís always better to tell a client you ďalmost always come under budgetĒ than to always go over budget, or to always take a loss on your labor. If you have to rent equipment, like lifts, youíll also need to take that into consideration.

    Expanding Your Market
    With these same skill sets you can expand your market if you think outside the stadium. Many of the rules that apply to large stadium wraps also apply to commercial buildings. The only difference is you have to find a creative way to get around municipality codes that are for advertising. Lucke has found that way.

    ďAs long as we donít put names of businesses on the wrap ≠ if we just use images ≠ itís considered almost like a mural,Ē Lucke says. Taking that approach has opened the door to more commercial wallscapes. But the branding message can be just as effective, he says, even if you donít spell it out with a company name and a clear call to action. ďYou have to eliminate the direct marketing aspect of the messaging and make it a lifestyle piece or an image,Ē he says. ďThen it doesnít fall under signage.Ē

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