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Tim Groves loves an inspirational quote. He speaks with careful deliberation, as though to emphasise the weight of the words. His smart-casual attire and steely gaze when he speaks suggest the mannered, professional air of someone with nearly two decades in Manx real estate. Which, funnily enough, is exactly what he is. It was frustration with the Island’s stymied advertising options in promoting his own real estate business that drove Tim to found his own advertising company – Billboards.

The Beginning – embracing the digital age

As with so many great and innovative business ideas, Billboards – the Island’s first out-of-home advertising platform, was borne out of exasperation and need. Now, five years after their formation, the Billboards empire now includes 7 Manx sites (Strand Street, Sea Terminal, Port Jack, M & S, to name but a few).  Now, this seasoned property director has drawn upon his expertise in the real estate market and allied it with a keen passion for marketing. His quotes are, suitably enough, far more in keeping with his creative, marketeer side:

“We are not reinventing the wheel here. We are simply giving people an option they didn’t otherwise have. Young people have a grip on the digital age and it’s time we embraced that. In my view, you need to embrace change or you’ll fall behind your competitors. It’s as simple as that”


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Changing of the Guard

Tim’s thirst for knowledge took him to the UK where he saw the potent power of the immediacy out of home advertising could bring (i.e. advertising that reaches you, well, when you’re out and about. In retrospect, did we really need to explain this? Come on, you’re better than that). Refreshed and re-energised from what he saw and read about, he soon realised how easy it was to get caught up in the IoM bubble and simply accept the options that exist.

“Out of frustration, I looked to the UK and the research for out of home advertising was compelling. Billboards and digital screens reach 98% of the population every week. It speaks to the digital generation and in real-time too. It’s a changing of the guard in many ways”

Those old mediums of advertising – print and radio particularly – still have their merits but to Tim, the difficulties of measuring their impact; the lack of metrics of old media left him seeking more progressive alternatives to market his own business. Citing the example of one of his primary Billboards clients – Domino’s, Tim illustrates the appeal of what he terms “short, sharp bursts” of content. Using a unique code for Domino’s via Billboards meant there was tangible marketing data to determine the success of the campaign; that aforementioned immediacy that reinforces the company’s slogan of “Advertising less Ordinary” only too well.As a real estate agent, he is acutely aware of high footfall and traffic zones in and around the capital and set his sights on securing state of the art streets in the right locations including Strand Street, Victoria Street and the Sea Terminal.The business works closely with Douglas Borough Council to monitor footfall traffic, providing advertisers with regular feedback and now, he has a highly successful business offering consumers “the most visible platform on the island”. No mean feat.As the business has grown, so too has the team. Manx advertising and publishing veteran, Ian Rowley now takes the lead day to day.


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Future domination

Tim is keen to see more businesses and agencies use the screens in smart and creative ways. Many businesses have reaped the rewards from the birth of billboards, but there is still untapped potential…

“Although we’re five years old now, we’re still educating Manx business marketeers on the features and possibilities to help them maximise return on investment. The opportunities are endless, we can run time sensitive campaigns and change messaging daily. It won’t be long until we see an entire adoption of digital and rightly so”

And what advice would this king of the motivational quote have for anyone with aspirations of starting their own business?

“Ask why. Ask questions. If you’re not satisfied with any service you are given educate yourself with what’s available to you. History is full of lessons where you take risks, you reap the rewards”

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