Business owners know that one of the major challenges faced by any retail business is getting customers through the door. While some businesses benefit from aggressive forms of direct marketing, many others must take a more passive approach when attracting customers. Often things like word-of-mouth are key to this type of marketing, but in the end, making your business easy to find and attractive to would-be consumers is crucial to growing your customer base.
Signage: Building a Lasting First Impression
FedEx commissioned a survey through Ketchum Global Research and Analytics in 2012 to see what role signs play in attracting customers and driving sales. The results prove what many business owners have always known: Signs are a major factor in driving purchases and affecting customer decisions.
According to the study, 76 percent of consumers have chosen to enter a store they had never before visited based purely on its sign. Even more interestingly, a similar percentage of respondents state that they had told someone about a store or recommended a brand based entirely on a sign they had seen for it. Finally, the study shows that 68 percent of customers admit to having made purchases of products or services after a sign caught their eye.
Clearly, signs play an important role in attracting customers to both a company and its individual products. An attractive sign is memorable and enticing. It makes the initial promise of what a store might offer, and it lays down the framework for what a customer might expect from interactions with that company. In other words, signs are a valuable part of branding, and their value should not be underestimated.
If great signage has a positive effect on sales and brand awareness, poor signage has a similarly major effect on consumer behavior. According to the FedEx study, 68 percent of customers believe that a store’s sign is a reliable indicator of the company’s products and services. In other words, customers believe that a company with a badly designed or unattractive sign will offer an inferior product or unprofessional service.
Additionally, 52 percent of people interviewed in the survey state that they’re less willing to shop at a store with a poorly made sign, especially a sign with misspellings. If a sign is missing from the storefront entirely, 60 percent of respondents state they will not enter the business. When surveyed, customers say that they prefer two to three signs to be placed around a business’s storefront.
Great Signs Don’t Stop at the Door
In-store advertising can be a valuable tool for driving purchases. It’s estimated that around half of all in-store purchases are made spontaneously, and many of these are based on the information available to shoppers at the time of purchase. In-store advertising, including signs, acts to introduce products, promote sales and educate customers about the goods or services offered in the store. Perhaps most importantly, in-store advertising can trigger the memory of shoppers: When they see a sign for a product, they may remember that they needed it or had intended to purchase it at another time.
Signs naturally play a role in in-store advertising. These signs can help guide customers through the store, provide additional information about key products or draw attention to special promotions. They can also help to build your brand: By repeating key messages and stylistic components found in the business’s main sign, these in-store advertisements help to provide cohesion to your marketing message and cement your brand’s image in the customer’s mind.
Too Much of a Good Thing
As with most things, moderation is the key to success when it comes to signage. While the presence of great signage is clearly important to customers, too many signs can dilute your message. These days, consumers are inundated with marketing messages everywhere they go, from roadside billboards to Facebook ads and television commercials. With so much advertising seeping into every aspect of the average person’s life, it’s only natural that much of it would get ignored.
It’s estimated that the average consumer receives as many as 3,000 marketing messages on any given day. This overabundance of marketing is called “advertising clutter” by some professionals, and it can be a real problem.
There are several ways that advertising clutter can turn away potential customers:
- Consumers may form negative opinions of brands whose marketing is viewed as intrusive. This can cause some customers to purposely avoid certain brands.
- Consumers will take steps to avoid advertisements entirely if they feel bombarded. For example, they may purchase ad-blocking software for their browsers. In person, they may simply ignore signs and other in-store materials.
- Clutter can cause confusion, especially if there is competition between multiple brands or services. Consumers faced with numerous marketing messages may have a difficult time distinguishing between them or developing any engagement with a given brand.
Marketing is a delicate dance. Customers appreciate marketing messages that inform them and speak to their needs; they dislike messages that seem unnecessary, intrusive or excessive. Because of this, businesses may experience diminishing returns from their advertising efforts.
The Bottom Line
Based on the research available about consumer habits, it seems clear that a business’s focus should always be on quality rather than quantity when it comes to marketing. It pays to invest in a few well-placed and well-designed signs to attract customer attention, provide valuable information and drive sales. By carefully choosing your message, you can target the right customers without alienating them with a battery of visual information.