As a Marketing Tool
Managing a Small Business - from BizMove.com
you considered the impact that your sign has on your
Guide discusses signs, what they can do for your business,
and how they can be used to your advantage. A checklist
for ordering a business sign is also provided. Click
here to request a quote.
are one of the most efficient and effective means
of communication. Signs help people find you; they
reach people who are passing by your establishment;
they present an image of your business. In short,
signs, tell people who you are and what you are selling.
are such a powerful communication medium that it is
difficult to estimate the extent of their influence.
Other media require the directed attention of the
person receiving the message. Signs, however, can
convey a message while creating a mood or feeling
of atmosphere. It is not necessary for people to give
full attention to your sign in order to derive meaning
from its presence.
What Is a Sign?
sign is the most direct form of visual communication
available. In fact, so many people use signs without
a second thought that it is easy to overlook their
importance. When we cannot talk to other people directly
in a given location, we tack up signs: wet paint,
beware of dog, enter here, garage sales, etc. signs
are the only form of mass communication directly available
to everyone - they are the people's street communication
Signs Can Do for Your Business
perform three major communications functions for your
business; they give information and direction, provide
a format for street advertising, and build your image.
Give Information About Your Business and Direct People
to Your Business Location.
index the environment so people can find you. This
is especially true for travelers, new members of your
community, and impulse shoppers who may be on a journey
to purchase a particular good or service which you
sell. Americans are mobile. Each year 40 million of
us travel over 1.7 trillion miles by automobile and
approximately 19 per cent of us change our place of
residence. A primary source of customers for your
business is the large number of people who are new
to your community or who may be just passing through.
Your sign is the most effective way of reaching this
mobile or transient group of potential customer.
can correct a poor location by substituting effective
communication for poor site characteristics. If your
business is located on a site which is not visible
or in a building which does not not correspond with
the goods or services offered, your sign can overcome
this disability. For example, most buildings are not
built to conform to the design needs of any particular
type of tenant. Without an effective sign it is often
impossible to determine what type of business is being
conducted in a given building. In addition, when your
site is located off a busy traffic artery or in an
area which is not easily accessible your sign can
communicate to people who are passing on a busy street
several blocks away. If you are located off a busy
freeway but far from an exit, your sign becomes your
main device for directing people to your business.
High-rise signs are used when a business is located
away from potential customers' normal pathways of
Are Street Advertising
sign provides an easily recognizable display format
for the goods or services you are selling. For most
businesses the street is where potential customers
are. The message conveyed on the street reaches people
who are close enough to make a purchase.
advertising also helps people develop a memory of
your business name and the products and services you
sell. People tend to buy from businesses they know.
can build an image for your business and help you
identify with the market segment you are trying to
materials and design, a sign can appeal to a given
group of potential customers. For example, some firms
attempt to capture the youth market, others senior
citizens, others unmarried single people and so forth.
If you have a particular market segment that you wish
to attract to your business, your sign can be an important
means of bringing these people in.
Advantages of Signs
signs are your most effective and efficient means
of commercial communication because they are inexpensive,
available, practical, easy to use, always on the job,
and directly oriented to the trade area of your business.
sign is an integral part of your advertising program
along with the other forms of commercial communication
such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines,
and billboards. There are four basic criteria used
to judge the effectiveness of these advertising media:
(1) coverage of the trade area, (2) repetition of
a message, (3) readership of a message, and (4) cost
per thousand exposures of a message. Two other criteria
important for the small business owner are (5) availability
and (6) ease of use. Let's see how signs measure to
the above criteria.
Signs are oriented to your trade area. Signs do
not waste your resources by requiring your to pay
for wasted advertising coverage. The people who see
your sign are the people who live in your trade area.
Signs are always on the job repeating your message
to potential customers. Your on-premise sign communicates
to potential customers twenty-four hours a day, seven
days a week, week after week, month after month, year
after year. Every time people pass your business establishment
they see your sign. The mere repetition of the message
will help them remember your business.
Nearly everyone reads signs. Signs are practical
to use for nearly everyone is used to looking at signs
and using signs, even small children. Studies have
shown that people do read and remember what is on
signs. When special items are displayed, sales increase
for these particular items within the store.
Signs are inexpensive. When compared to the cost
of advertising in some other media, the on-premise
sign is very inexpensive. Table 1 indicates the cost-per-thousand-exposures
for various media in a given type of community. Unless
your trade area encompasses an entire city or region,
where you must rely upon broad based media coverage,
there is no better advertising dollar value than your
Signs are available to each and every shop owner.
There is no need to schedule the use of your sign.
Your sign is available to you whenever you need it
and to be used however you please.
Signs are easy to use. No special skills or resources
are needed to operate a sign once it has been installed.
If it is an illuminated sign, all you need to do is
flip the switches and that may not be necessary with
timing equipment. Once the initial expenditures are
made no special resources or professional services
are needed. You need only operate and maintain your
for Ordering a Business Sign
you select a sign for your business there are several
things you need to consider. A competent sign company
can help you with the answers to some of these question
if you are unsure how to obtain them.
Who are your customers?
Potential customers for your business are people
who reside in your trade area. Most of your customers
come from the immediate area within a half mile to
a mile of your business location. Trade areas come
in assorted shapes and sizes depending upon the business.
2) How do you get information on potential customers?
Plot a dot map of your customers as soon as you begin
business. This is easily done by plotting the addresses
of people who stop in your store (and particularly
of those who purchase) as a dot on a street map of
your city. Within a few months time you will have
a fairly clear idea of the trade area from which you
are drawing your customers. You will then be able
to decide what type of sign would best meet the needs
of the people in that trade area. For example, if
your customers can only reach you by automobile or
you are located on a very busy street, the type of
sign that you use will be very different than if you
have a shopping center location and people must walk
to your store from parking lots.
your street profile from a city traffic engineer.
Since your sign communicates to people who pass your
business establishment, you can direct your message
to potential customers if you know what type of traffic
passes your door. Your city traffic engineer can provide
information which will tell you: where people begin
and end their trips, how people travel, when people
travel by time of day, why people travel, and where
they park when they reach a destination. Even small
cities and towns have traffic volume maps available
to tell you how many people pass by your business
how many new people move to your area each year. This
is a potential market for your business. This type
of information can be obtained from any board of realtors,
chamber of commerce or police department.
How are you going to communicate with the customers?
In order to communicate effectively, a sign must
be noticeable and readable.
A sign must be noticeable. After a while a sign
becomes part of the landscape. It loses some of its
ability to attract attention. By periodically changing
some small design element or by using changeable copy,
a sign can continue to attract interest. Time and
temperature devices or rotating and moving parts can
be used to maintain interest in a commercial message.
Time and temperature devices or rotating and moving
parts can be used to maintain interest in a commercial
message. Time and temperature units also provide a
needed public service.
A sign must be readable. A sign needs to be large
enough to read. You need to know how far a person
if from your store when he first sees your sign and
the real speed of traffic on your street. With this
information, a competent sign company can use a formula
to calculate the necessary size for your design and
build you an effective sign.
What are you trying to say?
Decide on a message that is clear and simple.
Focus on key words. Choose one or two words which
describe your business. Clever or strange names may
only attract certain customers.
Brief. The cleaner and clearer the message, the
more impact it has. Listing or names or unclear symbols
confuse rather than communicate.
What image are you trying to portray?
Design of your sign is very important. Your sign tells
people a lot about your business. Stark simple design
and materials may suggest discount prices and no frills.
Elegant and expensive sign materials may suggest luxury
goods and services. Two basic design considerations
are important when ordering a sign.
elements of sign design. These include considerations
such as size, placement, materials and structure.
The size of the sign is an important consideration
for your business. The biggest sign that you can afford
may not necessarily be the best one for your needs.
A sign which is either too big or too small will not
communicate your message effectively. The number of
signs is also important. Too many signs compete with
one another and reduce the effectiveness of your message
by presenting an image of confusion to potential customers.
The materials used for your sign determine its appearance
and performance. For example, differences in cost,
appearance, color, durability, flexibility and reaction
to extreme weather conditions can be found in the
many types of plastics available. The structure of
a sign also contributes to its effectiveness. Pole
covers and cantilevered construction help portray
an attractive message.
elements of sign design. Graphic elements of design
include layout of the message, colors, lettering,
shape symbolism, harmony, and daytime versus nighttime
is a test of good design. If your sign is well
designed, it will be easy to read. Legibility means
that the letters or characters on the sign are distinct
from one another. Some color combinations of background
and letters give excellent legibility while others
are very poor. To test your sign's legibility, drive
past your business and see if you can read it from
a distance. Look at it both day and night. Some signs
are difficult to read because of illumination problems
such as glare from street lights, signs on nearby
business establishments, or shadows caused by buildings.
A well-designed sign blends with the environment,
has a message impact and overcomes viewing problems.
How much should your sign cost?
You should consider several factors when determining
the cost of your on-premise sign.
sign is an investment. Your sign is one of the
most permanent parts of your business and is exposed
to weather and constant use. The average life of signs
varies from five to eleven years, depending on type
of materials used, construction and other factors.
Find out how many years of service to expect from
your sign. It pays to purchase good materials if you
intend to use the sign over a period of years.
costs. No business can afford to have its sign
fall into disrepair. A dilapidated sign tells the
public that you are not concerned with your business
image or their visual environment. Some types of signs
are virtually maintenance free while other require
more attention. Find out how to replace burnt out
bulbs or tubes in your sign.
consumption. New technological developments now
enable some types of signs to achieve energy savings
without sacrificing effects. Inquire about new energy
saving bulbs and internal materials.
or leasing. This may be more economical for a
new business, especially if there is any chance that
logos or names may change in the first few years of
operation. Statistics show that if a small business
fails, it will happen somewhere between the first
and second year of operation. Leasing a sign during
this period of time might help save some of the initial
capital needed for operating expenses.
or standardized. Some large companies offer standardized
types of signs which are cheaper than signs which
are custom designed and constructed. Many of these
standardized units can utilize ingenious design techniques
to bring forth creativity and individuality. Often
the standardized units can be arranged in different
configurations depending on your needs. Some standardized
sign units use the highest quality materials and are
designed to be relatively maintenance free. Mass production
enables these units to be sold much cheaper than if
designed and produced from scratch.
Signs communicate in a shared environment.
sign's ability to send its message beyond its locations
requires that you be sensitive to the effects of your
message on others. Since you share your space with
others, consider their rights and sensibilities too.
They are potential customers.
Consider city or town planning goals and regulation
when ordering a sign. Some types of signs are not
permitted. determine what the regulations are in your
community before you discuss design with a sign designer.
Most sign companies are well aware of the regulation
in any given community and can guide you in selecting
a sign which is not in violation of the law.
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