Think your bus bench ad is legal just because it's located on a bench near a bus stop?
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Think again. More and more business owners are learning that due diligence goes a long way when it comes to bus bench advertising.
Entrepreneurs are sometimes surprised to discover that not all benches are owned or maintained by municipalities. In some cases, bus benches have been erected by well-intentioned citizens with a desire to assist their fellow passengers. Bus benches have even been erected by guerrilla entrepreneurs trying to make a quick buck.
In 2009, an Indianapolis man took it upon himself to erect 800 benches near bus stops throughout the city. The man then proceeded to sell bench advertising for his newly constructed benches. Although many passengers were thankful for the opportunity to rest their feet, local residents thought the benches were eyesores. To make matters worse, the benches had been established without the permission of the city and were in violation of municipal codes.
When everything was said and done, the city removed all 800 benches – along with bench ads that had been purchased by local business owners. Since many owners had paid in advance for their bench ads, they lost the value of their advertising investment.
Whether the man was truly interested in providing free benches for bus passengers or just trying to make money is hard to say. But ultimately, the ones who suffered were the business owners who trusted him with their hard-earned marketing dollars.
Tips for Avoiding Scams
- If a bus bench advertising package sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Research the going rates for bench ads in your area and be highly skeptical of anyone who offers a rate that is way outside the range.
- Contact other businesses that use bench advertising in your region for referrals. Although the businesses may not be willing to tell you how much they paid for advertising, they are usually willing to tell you about their experience with the provider.
- Before you sign a contract, run a quick check with municipal authorities to make sure the bench ads you are purchasing are in compliance with local codes.