Small Business Signage: 5 Tips to Get More Customers In the Door | Carmen Sognonvi

Small Business Signage: 5 Tips to Get More Customers In the Door | Carmen Sognonvi

Hi I’m Carmen Sognonvi. For local business owners, getting customers
to walk through the door is always a top priority. In this video I’m going to tell you about
the single most important marketing investment you’re going to make as a local business,
particularly if you’re a brand-new business. And if you get this thing wrong, you could
actually be driving AWAY prospective customers. So what is this marketing investment that’s
so important? Your website? Your logo? Your flyers? Nope, it’s something much more basic. I’m talking about your signage. If you want your local business to be successful,
you have to make it a priority to capture the attention of people walking or driving
by your business. And there’s nothing that does that quite like
a good sign. But how do you make the most of your signage? That’s what this video is all about. But before we get to that, let’s talk about
why signage is so important. I recently came across an interesting survey
about signage that was done at the University of Cincinnati. When the researchers asked respondents if
they thought they could tell the quality of a business from its signage, the majority
said yes. Not only that – 55% of the respondents said
that they’ve actually *avoided* walking into businesses because they had poor quality signage. In other words, your customers right now are
making assumptions about your business based on what your signage looks like. So if you want to attract more customers,
and the right kind of customers, you’d better make sure you’re getting it right when it
comes to signage. That said, don’t get too hung up on looks. If you have to choose between having crappy
signage or no signage at all, PLEASE go with the crappy signage because even that can take
you far. When Serge and I first started construction
on Urban Martial Arts, we had two really inexpensive corrugated plastic signs made. They said “Coming Soon” and they had our logo,
URL, and phone number. The same day those signs went up, we started
getting phone calls and emails from people wanting more information so we were able to
start building our prospect database right away. It was so exciting! The building we’re in was a gut renovation
and our landlord really dragged his feet on finishing the fixtures that we needed done
before we could put up a permanent sign. So in the meantime, we simply took those same
cheapo corrugated plastic signs, cut off the words Coming Soon, and pasted them back on
our windows. It wasn’t pretty, but it did the job. The calls kept coming in, people kept walking
in, and students kept signing up. It worked so well that by our second or third
month we were already making enough to break even on our expenses. That simply wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t
had a sign. Were we doing other kinds of marketing? Of course! But in those early days, whenever we asked
people how they heard about us, 80- 90% would say they walked or drove by. One thing you need to understand as a local
business owner is that people feel a really strong sense of attachment to their neighborhood,
and because of that, they get really excited when new businesses open. If you don’t make the most of that initial
surge of interest and goodwill, you’re missing out on a huge wave of momentum that can really
thrust your business forward. Ok, so how do you get the biggest bang for
your buck when it comes to signage? Here are 5 tips. Tip 1. Decide if the sign should be permanent or
temporary This is important because it’ll determine
what you do and don’t include on the sign. Your main sign will be the one that costs
you the most money, so you want to avoid having to replace it for as long as possible. On this sign, you should of course, have the
name of your business and include your contact information: at the very least, your phone
number and website. I would also advise you though, to make it
clear what you do and who you do it for. But only include the information that you
don’t think will change for at least 5 years. For example if you’re a dance studio, by all
means say that you offer salsa and ballroom lessons for kids and adults, since those are
such established dances that there will probably always be a demand for them. But you may not want to list your zumba classes
on there since it’s so new, and it’s hard to tell right now if zumba is just a fad or
if it’s here to stay for good. For something like zumba – a product or service
that you’re not sure if you’ll be offering 5 years from now — use temporary signage
to promote that. Temporary signs are also great for promoting
seasonal items, limited-time promotions, or anything else that’s ever-changing. Here’s a quick tip: For our temporary signs,
I like to have them printed on corrugated plastic, and we hang them inside the windows
using suction cups with hooks. The plastic doesn’t get damaged from condensation
on the windows unlike foamcore or other types of material, and the suction cups keep the
signs steady without leaving any sticky residue the way tape does, and corrugated plastic
is pretty inexpensive. Tip 2. Use a mix of external and internal signage External signage is a no-brainer, since that’s
what you need to entice people who are outside to walk into your store. But don’t overlook the importance of internal
signage. Internal signs are especially useful for communicating
with your existing customers. At Urban Martial Arts for example, we use
internal signs to let students know about events we’re doing, about upcoming belt tests,
tournaments, days we’ll be closed, and about specials or sales we’re running. But you can also use internal signs to tie
into your social media efforts. For example, you can encourage customers to
“check in” to your location using sites like FourSquare or Yelp, to leave reviews on your
Google or Yahoo pages, or to follow you on Twitter and like you on Facebook. Tip 3. Decide on your goal and include a call to
action Every sign you create should have a specific
goal attached to it. In other words, what do you want the person
to do as a result of seeing the sign? Call you? Visit your website? Like your Facebook page? Walk into your store? Add your event to their calendar? Decide what your goal is and don’t be afraid
to make your call to action big and bold. On the sign that promotes our after-school
program for example, at the bottom I put “Call us or come on in!” Because those are the 2 actions I want them
to take. And just in case they’re seeing the sign during
our off-hours, I include our website so they can go there for more information. Tip 4. Keep it short and sweet Put just enough information on your sign to
generate the action you want. Anything more will just clutter it up and
make it less likely your customer will take action. Tip 5. Use basic design principles When you create the sign, keep the user in
mind. How far away will they be standing from the
sign? Will they be able to see 10-point type from
that distance? If not, bump up the size. Signs are always easier to read if there’s
a lot of contrast between the background and the text. You don’t have to go crazy with color here:
black type on a white background never looks bad. If you’re going to use photography, you’re
better off picking one good photo and blowing it up big, than having lots of smaller crappier
photos. One big photo looks clean and is more eye-catching. And finally, try to use no more than 2 different
types of fonts. And whatever you do, make sure you stay away
from Comic Sans or what I call the Ching Chong font. They’re scientifically proven to repel customers. Remember, if you want to make the most of
your signage, keep these 5 tips in mind: 1. Decide if the sign should be permanent or
temporary 2. Use a mix of external and internal signage
3. Decide on your goal and include a call to
action 4. Keep it short and sweet
5. Use basic design principles If you found this video useful, you should
sign up for email updates from me because you’ll get more great tips on how to run a
successful local business, along with occasional special offers. If you’re already on my blog, just fill out
the form below. Or if you’re watching this video elsewhere,
go to What tips do you have when it comes to using
signage effectively? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for watching!


  1. Great job, Carmen! Signage IS so important for local businesses and overlooked ALL of the time. Your 5 tips are right on point, I hope your other viewers in small business will take them to heart. 🙂

  2. @marleewarddotcom Thanks for your kind words, Marlee! I ended up editing this part out of the video because it was already getting so long, but we have a friend who opened a martial arts school a couple years ago and he didn't have a sign for the first 6 months. I can't even imagine how much business he lost out on because of that! Thankfully he's doing fine now – but I'm sure he'd be even farther ahead had he invested in a good sign right from the get go. Thanks for watching! 🙂

  3. I've had a sign business for over 20 years now and your video is dead on excellent info to get out there for people starting their own business or acquiring new customers. I'd like to put a link to this video on my website. Would this be okay?.

  4. Thanks Carmen! I just read an article by an award-winning signmaker about what 3 things you need to consider BEFORE choosing colors, fonts, everything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *