How To Purchase A Sign   Simple Steps in Getting The Proper Sign

  Everyone in a retail, wholesale or services business needs a proper sign to advertise their products and capabilities and/or to identify their business location. As the old saying goes, "A business with no sign is a sign of no business," this was true many, many years ago when the saying started, and is even more true in today's marketplace.  Large corporate and chain stores spend millions annually to promote their products, but most small business owners think they can get by with a home-made sign or no sign at all and hope that 'word-of-mouth' will get them the recognition to keep the doors open.

  The government's Small Business Administration has loads of statistics on the success rate of small businesses and it is VERY low, only six out of ten businesses will last ONE year, only five will make it TWO years, and just three will make it THREE years.  It takes approximately three years to start seeing profit from your business investment at best, and its usually not product, service or location that is wrong but the lack of advertisement, and the marketing knowledge necessary to survive in today's business world.  Several times I have had a new business owner tell me they want a nice sign but can't afford one just yet but when business really gets going they'll be back to order a bigger sign.  We all can relate to that type of thinking but the cold hard facts of business is you need that nice big sign now to help you're business have a better chance of success.  After your business gets established and you have a good client base you have less need of a sign than when just starting out.  A few paragraphs farther below, there is a link explaining the costs of a sign spread out over the life of the materials, and it is surprising how little a professional sign can cost.  Many of the signs of considerable size cost only a few cents per day to own, so wouldn't it be better to give up that extra dessert each day and put those pennies on a quality sign that will increase your sales and profits.  Just take a look at the chart and see what the price of a piece of pie each day can buy in advertising, then when you are successful and (a few pounds lighter) and can afford that bigger sign just use the money and take your family on a nice vacation?  

  Your first step in purchasing a sign is to figure into your budget the cost of a sign, you should contact a sign professional and get estimates for a range of sign types and sizes before you even start your business budget, signs are like everything else, they range in size, materials and prices, and can cost from a few dollars to several thousands of dollars.  See this simple chart that shows the difference in small signs for an example of how signs are more than just boards with words on them. Don't expect professional sign companies to provide free sketches to estimate the cost of a sign, we can create a price range estimate based on the type and size of the sign your business needs and when time comes for you to order your sign then the design stage comes in.  Most sign companies have a portfolio of past jobs and can give a quick informed free estimate based on these previous jobs, charges for artwork and logo design is a separate part of the development of your marketing/advertising.

  When the new or novice businessperson decides they want to get a sign usually the first question they ask is, "How much does a sign cost?"  Sometimes I answer with, 'it doesn't COST at all, a sign PAYS,,, it pays with increased sales, more customers and better profits'.  You may want to read this easy to understand article with detailed charts on the value of a sign over the life of the materials. This simple question to the obvious is sometimes hard for the new business owner to understand, they are watching pennies to stay in their budget and the advertising of their new business is the last thing on their list a lot of the time.  They have been bombarded by hard-sell approaches by every vendor they have dealt with to furnish and stock their business and this has eaten away at their budget to the point they now have little or no money left for one of the most crucial parts of their business venture, the all important SIGN.  Many times I have been called out to a new businesses to see about a sign for their new building only to find they have overspent their budget and can only afford a small simple sign.  They have spent several thousands of dollars to build and stock a small business, but the all important SIGN was never figured into their upstart costs, sure there is nice carpet and expensive furnishings in the back office (that no one ever sees but them) but now they had to scrimp on the MOST important piece of advertisement they will ever purchase,,, their SIGN.

   Now that you've considered the sign into your budget you're ready for the next step,,, a Business Image.  Your business image is as important to the success of your new business as your personal image is to the success of your personal life. A good business image lets potential customers KNOW you are serious about your business and shows that you have pride in building good business relations and practices.  This business image does not end with just running a neat and clean storefront, this is just the beginning of it all.  You're signage and advertisements should carry this theme forward in all representations of your business and the best way to do this is to have a consistent 'look' for all of your advertisements.  A business LOGO is such a small cost to pay for this consistency, and a properly designed logo that fits the style, type, mood, etc. is what the business logo should do for your business. 

   All too many times people try to 'create' their own logo based on their own personal likes and dislikes, since the advent of the personal computer everyone that has a CD full of clipart and a thousand fonts to play with is an 'instant artist' and some of the amateurish mistakes they can come up with is amazing, amusing and most of all usually quite ugly. The local butcher has some of the same tools the local doctor has, but if you needed an operation I'll bet you wouldn't be standing in line at the meat counter to get an appendectomy, same holds true for creative ideas in visual communications, you don't get custom work from a software program on a computer, it comes from an experienced graphic artist that understands WHAT works for each type of business and WHY it works.  Look at the logos for all major products on your next trip to the supermarket, they FIT the product, they weren't hastily knocked out by a novice with a new PC and canned clipart.

   If you've read this far you're either interested enough to find out more or you're in bad need of reading material, this article by Karen Claus at the University of California has input from a scholar's point of view and is very interesting.   We've covered only a small amount of the benefits of having good signage and a proper business image.  The following list can help you make informed decisions before you waste money on an inappropriate sign or advertisement piece.

  • Consult a professional sign artist for professional help.
• Develop a Business Image with a proper LOGO and use the logo on all signage and advertisements.
• Remember, good advice doesn't come cheap, but no advice at all can be extremely costly.
• Have some ideas of your own, but don't be offended if the graphics professional needs to make changes.
• Don't be afraid to ask questions, the better the communications, the better the end product.
• Give the artist time to create, they're not like candy machines—drop in a quarter and out pops a gum ball.
• Don't confuse prices and sizes, cheap is cheap and you can't compare apples with oranges.
• Economical and cheap are not the same thing, they're both low in price but the first has added value.
• Do some research, take pictures of signs that you like, it may help you and the designer establish a style.

  As a professional sign artist I study on a continual basis to stay abreast of new trends and old techniques, my favorite
  magazines and web sites for this continuing education are listed below.  I have over 40 years of hands-on experience and
  studies of the graphics trades and it shows in my creative designs, services and products.
Contact us for more information on how
  Elliott Design can be your partner in building a new business or revamping an older one.



Check Out These
Articles and Web Sites On  Signage and Design

Small Business Administration
Differences in Signs and Their Advertising Value

• Signs And Your Business
    • What Does A Sign Cost


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