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story.lead_photo.caption Lindmark Outdoor Media has billboards placed all over the city. Their number of advertising spots contributed to their ability to stay afloat as a company during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

Businesses that rely on advertising sales have largely had to be patient and persistent during the pandemic. That is true for the billboard business, among others.

Customers cut back on spending to control expenses, and events that often show up on billboards get cancelled, closing normally dependable windows of opportunity.

But these companies took steps to weather the storm. Now, with the economy looking up and COVID numbers trending in a better directions, companies selling space on outdoor billboards, are rebounding.

"We lost quite a few sales when the shutdown hit in March," said Jill McMahon, owner of RMAC Outdoor. "This happened because many advertisers simply weren't open during the worst of it. Others could not afford advertising expenses during the heights due to lack of sales. This continued for the next few months."

RMAC notice a turn for the better in early June.

"That's when we experienced an uptick," she said. "Since then, things have steadily gone up, helped by advertising bought in the current political season. Also, other unconventional ad buyers have appeared. As a result of improvements, out of that low point, where we are now is similar to where things are usually most years, maybe even a bit better."

For McMahon, even though they are in a good place overall, the sharpest hit, one they have a long way from which to recover, is events and the ads that accompany them.

"There are almost no events right now, due to COVID," she said. "Lots of ad revenue is centered around events and shows and right now, they are for the most part still shut down."

Lindmark Outdoor Media, based out of Norman, Oklahoma, has weathered the advertising storm, according to its management. In Texarkana, billboards advertising Lindmark's presence are numerous.

According to Joe Thomas, Land Lease Manager, Lindmark-Texarkana Division, this is no accident.

"Trent Lindmark, our owner, has a philosophy. If the sign is not being used by a client, we can use it ourselves," he said. "Let folks know we are available."

In August 2019, Lindmark purchased Fairway Outdoor, adding more locations to its inventory. Then came the pandemic this spring.

"We were worried where things would go during the shutdown," Thomas said. "But between our robust marketing and a fortunate set up of clients, we did not get hit hard during the height of the COVID shutdown."

Thomas says Lindmark sees good things ahead.

"We are extremely optimistic about the economic outlook, both immediate and the future of the Texarkana market," he said. "Our leadership and strategy and this being a sound market, we are feeling good about things to come."

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