Often, a sign is the first encounter a customer has with your business, and can have a real impact on how they perceive your brand. As a customer moves through a store, they’re also likely to be influenced by signage pointing out specific products or highlighting the benefits that certain items can offer.
However, signs can be an overlooked marketing strategy — nice to have, but sometimes overshadowed by flashier marketing tools, like social media, online ad campaigns and personalized marketing emails.
The signs you use can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your overall marketing strategy and even simple adjustments to sign content or design can change how customers interact with your business.
This is why your signage is important to your business — and the changes that you can make to take full advantage of your business’s signage.
1. Signage Helps Boost Impulse Sales
Customer research shows that the majority of purchase decisions, around 76%, are made in-store — meaning that the right sign in the right place can do a lot to encourage a customer to pick up an item.
In-store signs and product displays can draw attention to a particular item or help you advertise the particular benefits that a product may have. Point-of-purchase displays can also help encourage last-minute impulse buys, or let customers know about deals and promotions your business is running.
Similarly, outdoor signage can help you draw in customers — as with cafes or restaurants that use signs to advertise daily specials and offerings. People walking by your store may be encouraged to come in on a whim if they see a sign showing off a deal or product that they’re looking for.
2. Unique Signage Can Offer a Competitive Edge
People notice unique marketing that takes risks or finds an innovative way to communicate what a business is offering.
An ambitious sign can go a long way in making customers take notice of your business — helping your company stand out from the competition.
Interesting use of color, shape and text can all help differentiate your sign. An unusual sign shape or clever design can also help. So long as you follow good sign design practices — like ensuring that your sign is legible — you can take some big risks with how you present your business in a sign.
3. Signs Can Offer Year-Round Advertising
Signs typically don’t have much of an upkeep cost — if they’re inside your business or on your property, you may not have to pay anything to keep a sign in the window besides a sign permit fee .
This means that, in many cases, a sign is providing constant advertising — 24/7, every day of the year.
Over time, this can have some big benefits. For example, consistent exposure to your branding can help build brand awareness in regular customers and those who pass by your business.
This does mean that sign placement, however, can have a major impact on the effectiveness of your marketing. When deciding where to place a sign, it’s important that you take into account area foot traffic and the visibility of your sign to ensure that it will be seen by the maximum number of potential customers.
Using foot traffic and people counting techniques, you can estimate local foot traffic — which can show you, for example, which side of a storefront gets the most traffic. This can help you know where to place a sign.
4. Signs Can Promote Time-Limited Deals and Offerings
You can also use signs to promote temporary deals and offerings, potentially drawing in customers who might be tempted by savings or special promotions.
Digital signage can be extremely useful if you regularly offer new deals or swap out the products you offer. These signs can be updated instantly and as needed, allowing you to save money on printing and change your messaging more often.
It’s also important to track the effectiveness of your signage, especially if you’re investing in digital signs. Knowing how to track ROI on digital signs by collecting customer feedback using surveys and feedback forms will be essential.
You can use the information you gather from surveys to learn more about what kind of signage your customers respond to best — helping you design future signs or change up your messaging.
5. Signage Can Help Inform Customers
Signage can also play a very practical role. Safety signage may tell customers where they can go in the event of an emergency. In a store with tight aisles, you might also use floor signs to direct traffic, ensuring that customers can browse the shelves and move around the store without the risk of running into someone else .
Good use of signage can also help you preempt customer questions about the location of certain items, or answer questions they may have about a product, potentially saving both them and your staff time.
If you find that customers are asking your employees the same questions over and over — or that certain products in a store are hard to find — the right sign in the right place can make a massive difference.
How You Can Get the Most Out of Business Signage
Signs are an important part of almost any business’s marketing strategy — but they can sometimes be overlooked in favor of other marketing methods.
To take full advantage of your business’s signs, you should be aware of the potential benefits they can offer, where they work best and the design techniques you can use to make them stand out.
Collecting information on your signs’ ROI can also be useful — tools like surveys and feedback forms may be able to help you improve your use of signage.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.