How many times have you found yourself struggling to locate a business or a store and settling for the next best available option because you are just too annoyed to keep looking? If you are also a business owner, your potential customers and clients may find themselves in this predicament if your venture -— whether brick and mortar, online, or both —- lacks visibility.
The “build it and they will come” approach just won’t cut it— unless, of course, you are a Google or an Apple. Small businesses need to market aggressively and diversely in order to attract a steady influx of customers, and something seemingly peripheral as a business sign may well be the perfect starting point. The venerable business sign is just as important as ever in this digital world, and what is more, it shares many parallels with online business strategy. Lets start by looking at best practices for business signage, and then look at how they relate to the digital side of things.
Make an Impact with Your Business Sign
Overlooking the importance of an eye-catching and inviting sign board could be a fatal mistake for small business owners given that a recent survey of 100,000 American households revealed that a store’s sign ranks second – after TV advertising – in determining a buyer’s shopping destination.
Investing in the right sign board could help you improve your bottom line significantly. Here a few tips to keep in mind from the concept to the execution phase:
The Design: The first essential element to having a sign board that draws potential customers to your business is a functional design. The font size, font type, amount of information, color scheme, and lighting should all be carefully considered when planning your business sign.
1. If your business is located in an area with heavy traffic movement, you may need a bigger sign board with a larger font size to grab people’s attention.
2. Similarly, it is advisable to use a font with clear, well-defined lines to increase legibility. A curvy font style may be part of your brand identity, but it will not help you grab eyeballs.
3. Using bright colors that contrast (but don’t clash) with the background is far more effective in getting your message across than using neutral hues.
4. Using a lighted sign board, even if your business operates during the daytime only, can improve visibility.
5. And finally, avoid clutter. Include only essential information on your board to make it easier to read when potential customers are driving or otherwise on the move.
The Orientation: Once you have the signboard designed and fabricated, the next important task is to decide on an orientation that will enhance its visibility. A survey of female shoppers conducted by the University of Cincinnati in association with Better Homes and Gardens and BrandSpark showed that 64 percent of women shoppers in the age group of 18 to 24 failed to find a business they were searching for “due to small, unclear signage.” If your business is located in a neighborhood packed with other business outlets with signs of their own or obstructions such as trees, power lines, and buildings, picking a clear vantage point is crucial. To improve your chances of being spotted, you may consider mounting your sign to extend out from the building, or you may wish to hang the sign across the front of your store—or you may opt to use two signs to cover both placements. Businesses located in busy or crowded areas stand to benefit more from the use of multiple sign boards.
Design and Position Go Hand-in-Hand: In his study titled “Signage as Marketing Communication: Research Perspectives and Next Steps,” visual marketing expert James Kellaris suggests people can perceive the same sign differently, depending on its position. For example, if a sign is placed at the ground level, passersby are more likely to respond to the written word than to images. On the other hand, strong visual elements work better if the sign is mounted on a building.
Upgrade and Maintain: Don’t just forget about the sign once you have put it up. Repaint it when necessary, keep the lighting in working order, and replace any fallen letters immediately, because a shoddy sign does not reflect well on your business. And as your business grows, make sure the look of your sign gets an upgrade, too.
A well-crafted sign resonates just as well with potential customers as a good ad or jingle. It is an opportunity to make that first impression really count.
Business Signs for The Digital World
So why is an IT company talking about best practices for physical signs? In today’s digital age, having a metaphorical business sign in the virtual realm is just as important – if not more – as putting one outside your brick and mortar business. More than that, many of the principles that apply to physical signs also remain important digitally. Lets look at the main places and ways a business hangs their ‘sign’ on the internet:
Google My Business as Your Business Sign: Register your business on Google My Business with a complete profile, including pictures, location, address, phone number, and URL of your business website, along with filling categories relevant to your business model. This helps a great deal in improving visibility. Once your business has been verified, Google My Business becomes your one-stop shop for managing business promotions online. From dropping a pin on Google Maps to sharing updates on Google+, managing reviews and ratings, accessing the Google Analytics dashboard, and even getting insights on engagement and visibility, you can get it all done in one place.
Working on Local SEO: Start off this process with an attractive, brand-consistent website that is packed with information relevant to potential buyers. The next important thing is to list your business in online directories such as Yelp, CitySearch, Yellowpages.com, Yahoo, and Superpages—preferably using your business sign as the listing thumbnail—and pick the right categories for classifying your business. Once your business starts drawing the right kind of responses, you can add the reviews widget to your homepage – sites like Yelp and Superpages allow it – to further improve your conversions.
Include Signs in E-mailers: E-mailers are a great way to improve your visibility. Make the most of this marketing practice by including an image of your business sign in the email – just below the sign-off, perhaps – to reinforce brand recognition for your potential clients. So the next time a potential buyer walks past your business and sees your signboard, they may be reminded of a great offer they received via email and be more likely to walk into your store.
Focus on Reviews: Reviews play an important role in determining your search engine ranking. If you’ve ever Googled a business, you know that the average ratings appear just alongside business details such as location, website, and images on the search engine results page (SERP). You can encourage customers to review your products and services by making use of the review option on portals like Yelp, creating a review button on your own webpage, and prompting visitors to leave reviews after making a purchase.
Cash In On Social Media: In all probability, you already have a social media presence – Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram account, and so on – for business promotions. When used well, social media engagements can provide almost instant results, improving engagement and brand recognition value. Having your business sign as the cover photo for your Facebook page, for instance, is a great move for increasing brand recognition among the local community of buyers.
Considering the amount of impressions your sign will receive over the lifetime of your company, the importance of a quality business sign and the images of the sign to be used on the internet cannot be emphasized enough. Effective signs are critical to the health of your business.