When Kenny Goodwin Jr. goes for a bike ride around Saratoga Springs, he’s usually carting with him a nearly 50-pound billboard.
Believe it or not, the outings are both business and pleasure for the 29-year-old, who launched the Capital Region’s first bicycle billboard company in Saratoga Springs last June: Spin My Ad.
It was slow going at first. He had seen bicycle billboards aplenty while working as a model in Manhattan a few years ago, but he had to wade through many rejections by local business owners who had never seen anything like it before landing his first client — Dr. Jeffrey Ridha, a plastic surgeon with a practice on Railroad Place.
“He was the first big respected company in town to give me the opportunity to put his brand on the back of my bike, and once other people saw that, it wasn’t a gamble for them anymore,” Goodwin said.
Since that first ride, Goodwin has run more than 50 ad campaigns for names like Healthy Living Market, State Farm Insurance, Saratoga Cycling Studio and even Live Nation. These days, he’s gearing up to hire employees and expand operations to Lake George and Burlington.
Goodwin recently shared with The Daily Gazette six things that helped his business gain a name for itself in less than a year.
Don’t waste an opportunity: The Long Island native began toying with the idea of a bicycle billboard company in May 2014. A Saratoga Springs transplant for several years now, Goodwin knew that July and August — when hundreds of thousands of visitors converge on the city for horse racing season — would generate peak business for such a company. “My uncle was like, ‘Kenny, you need to go for this,’ ” he recalled. “I didn’t have time to mess around. With track season in sight, I knew I better get going.” They built a custom bike and launched the business the next month.
Stand out: In New York City, the shock value of a billboard-toting bike is long gone. But in the Capital Region, such a sight is still novel. Goodwin had his bike custom-made to support the weight of a billboard taller than the ones he spotted in Manhattan. The billboard itself is three feet wide and five feet tall, but on its platform it stands well over seven feet tall. “It doesn’t matter who your audience or target demographic is — the point of advertising is to capture attention and communicate your message,” he said. “In advertising, you’re constantly competing and fighting for attention. So on a unique platform like this, you separate yourself right away.” Indeed, he frequently spots people pausing to take his picture or wave. Some even stop him to ask questions.
Be an ambassador, not a billboard: “If you’re flipping through the paper and have a question about an ad you see, the paper won’t talk back to you,” Goodwin said. “But since I’m human, I answer questions in live, real time all the time. If someone wants to know where a restaurant or store is that I’m advertising, I’ll direct them. It’s almost invaluable for the client to have a service like that. For the time their ad is on the back of my bike, I’m an extension of their brand.”
Take your message to the people: If it’s August in Saratoga, you’ll find Goodwin cycling near the track and through downtown crowds during lunch and dinner rushes. On days he’s advertising for Healthy Living Market, you’ll find him taking a spin at the local YMCA or through the state park. “We go where the people are and where the demographic is,” he said.
Be fit: When Goodwin isn’t cycling for work, he’s still … cycling. On his days off, he’ll shoot up to Lake George. On mornings off, he’ll go for a ride sans billboard. “I’ve been huge into fitness my entire life, so being physically fit definitely helps in this job,” he said. “The billboard starts off light, but by the end of the day I swear it’s heavier.” He estimates it weighs anywhere from 40 to 50 pounds.
Abandon preconceived notions: Goodwin initially thought Spin My Ad would be a seasonal business. After all, how are you going to ride a billboard-toting bicycle around through ice, snow and sludge? “You aren’t,” he said. Instead, in the dead of winter, he parks his billboard in the middle of Broadway or wherever else a client might want eyeballs to see it. The foot traffic is still high, and since the bike is mobile he doesn’t need a permit.