Mobile Advertising Opportunities

Car Wrap Advertising

I've seen them on the street and wondered if a car wrap is right for my small business. How much does a car wrap cost? Does a car wrap make my car a business tax deduction?

Ad-wrapped cars are a great way to market a business.

Car Wrap Advertising

In effect, car wraps, otherwise known as automobile wraps or vehicle wraps, give a business owner a moving billboard ad. They are a time-tested, cost-effective and broad-reaching advertising and marketing tactic.

For those of you who want to get started with wrapped cars that advertise your offerings, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive regarding car wraps.

How much does it cost to ad-wrap a car?

Car wraps vary in price.

For a smaller car, the price is cheaper (think Smart Car) versus buses and trailers, which cost a bundle. Also, you don't need to wrap the whole car. A partial wrap will bring down the cost. In general, car wraps are priced by square foot. Think creatively about your design to get the biggest bang for the buck.

A general guideline for the cost of a car wrap is $500 to $2,000 for a partial wrap. A full wrap can cost up to $5,000. Many advertising companies offer financing. Also, this is a business tax deduction like all your other advertising costs. Sometimes sign companies offer a discount if you have the sign company name somewhere on your wrap. Be sure to negotiate, negotiate and then, negotiate some more.

Is advertising on a car deductible? Does car wrap advertising make a car deductible as a business expense?

Unfortunately, the IRS does not allow you to deduct the cost of your car. Check out IRS publication 463 for the full details. Essentially, the tax deduction is the same for a personal car used for business.

Only the cost of the wrap can be deducted as a business expense.

How do I get my car wrapped with advertising for my business?

So how do you buy a car wrap? Like any other form of advertising, there is graphic design, production and installation. The design can be done by the decal company or in-house on your computer.

Car wraps are produced by a variety of advertising companies. There are car wrap specialists (just Google "car wrap") and lots of major advertisers create vinyl wraps (see CBS Outdoor, for example). Given the complexity of the job, professional installation is probably the best bet.

Car wraps are like decals that go right over the car's original paint job. Car wrap manufacturers claim they even help to prevent chips and scratches on your car's original paint job. In general, they can last up to five years and many manufacturers will provide a guarantee. Phone number changed? No problem, they can change sections of the wrap for a lower cost.

Car wrap graphics are much cooler than paint and not nearly so permanent! Want the graphic to show at night? They even have reflective graphics. Perforated vinyl is used to cover windows, but State laws prohibit covering the windshield. Start to finish, you can have your car wrapped in 20 days!

Which businesses should invest in mobile advertising via car wraps?

Although they look really cool, is a car wrap right for you? Think about your driving habits. Do you have a long commute? Spend a lot of time in your car? Do you park in a highly visible area? A good rule of thumb is if you drive over 200 miles a month in a high density market, a car wrap will pay off for you.

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What's your take on car wrap advertising? Do you think it's an effective way for a small business to advertise?

  • Don @ Chicago Green Design posted on 3/20/2010
    Don @ Chicago Green Design
    I am wondering if I purchase a vehicle wrap if it will pay off. Our company designs and installs elaborate rooftop entertainment areas (fireplaces, b-ball courts, putting/ chipping greens. fire pits, movie theaters, etc.), and was wondering if this could generate business. Travel for all of our vehicles is about 23 miles each way and also the travel around town is daily as well. So our vehicle wraps would have high visibility and in the areas in Chicago where they could afford such a service. My other concern is if I have surface rust on one of the vehicles will I have to attend to this prior to getting it wrapped. I would imagine the wrap is only as good as the surface underneath.

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