Signs are the most misunderstood and underutilized tool in retailing today. I believe that the fastest way to sales increases is through effective interior advertising, aka signage. I have been preaching signage for the past 4 years. I wrote The Retail Store Sign Manifesto, the book Signs Sell, a book specifically written for the tanning industry that will be released for all retailers as soon as my staff can catch up with the multiple projects we all have on our plates.
I am so passionate about signage because I have seen firsthand how effective signs can be. The problem is that when most retailers think about signs, they either think of the sign above their door or sales signs. It is so much more than that.
There were four incidences that made me a believer in the power of signage. The first was when I was asked to evaluate main street merchants. I would make suggestions about putting a specific type of sign in a specific spot and another type in a different location. I didn’t think much of it until I made the suggestions and a few hours later or the next day or the next week, I would receive a call or an email from the store telling me about the positive effects those signs made.
I was still not aware that I was onto anything significant, and then I recalled a report that I was privileged to see from a major home goods chain where the managers were complaining about all the signs they had to put up. At Christmas time, it became a bigger chore when they were busy. So management did a test of the 12 stores across the country and took down all of their signage. In a ten-day period, sales from the test stores dropped on an average of 34% while the rest of the chain was experiencing 2% increases. The only difference was the signage.
Then, I worked with a business that had a carved wooden sign made for their restaurant business. The sign was magnificent with one small exception. The person who carved the sign didn’t have enough room to write down the full word “restaurant”. So he abbreviated restaurant and just wrote “rest.” Everyone thought it was a rest stop and his business plummeted. He was reluctant to change it because he had spent so much money on the sign, which obviously was a bad reason. When it was finally changed, his business started experiencing a 40% increase (he did add a couple of other signs as well, but it was still all about signage).
Lastly, the one form of advertising that has fared well during this economic slowdown is billboard advertising. The reason why is because it is considered to be word of mouth advertising.
Let me share my formula to use signage -- I call it the I.S.E.E. Method for Effective Signage
- The “I” stands for informative signs, such as department identifiers, where to check out and where the bathrooms are. It can also include store policies as well.
- The “S stands for selling signs which range in variety from new, different, interesting and fun to signs such as 20% off, 2 for 1, buy one/second one free, 25% off, etc., etc.
- The first “E” is for Educational Signs, which are signs that teach our customers about the product or any kind of need they may have pertaining to the product. Become the source of education; it goes a long way.
- The second “E” is for entertainment to put the customer in a good mood. How many times have you heard a customer say “I am not in the mood”? Let’s put up fun signs that will put them in a happy mood. We are in the entertainment business today. Anything anyone wants to buy, they can buy online and generally for less money. When we entertain our customers, it separates and differentiates us from the rest of the crowd.
If you want more information about signage, come to our webinar on Wednesday, December 8 at 4:00
. If you cannot make that, you can still sign up and listen to it at your leisure by purchasing the archive in our store
after the event.