How does your shop compare?
When an American sign shop makes your Canadian customers attractive promises, it’s time to take note and compare. What are they promising in full-page ads? Well, for instance: 1-2 day turnaround; no rush fees; quantity discounts; PDFs for review; service to most of Canada.
Time to plan future hiring.
The Roland DGA Canada national sales manager recently commented that sign shops across the country were experiencing difficulty finding people willing to choose the industry as a career path. If he is correct, staff planning and training should move up your priority list as you plan for the future.
Get your colour combinations right for maximum visibility.
Good colour combinations for visibility on signs: black and white; black and yellow; blue and white; blue and yellow; green and white; red and white; and red and yellow. Not perfect but generally better than other combinations.
Design with the site in mind.
How many times have you seen a billboard or a sign and been unable to get the message because the font is too small? Yes, I know, many times. It’s almost like the designer never visited the site to check out distances to make sure the message can be read. Design with the site in mind.
Go for bold billboard designs.
No one remembers a dull billboard. Be bold. be creative. Dare to be different. Think this is common sense? Check out the billboards on your way home tonight.
Advising a client on signage, wraps etc. for their office space? Don’t forget one of the most neglected surfaces suitable for graphics — the floor.
Print wallpaper on your Roland printer-cutter.
Roland printer-cutters can print limited edition, custom-designed wallpaper. How about adding this option to your product line?
Build relationships with your suppliers.
Build ongoing relationships with your suppliers so that you’re kept in the loop on new materials and ideas suited to your printing system.
Find a copy of the August 2017 Signmedia magazine and check out the National Sign Competition winners. Be amazed and inspired.
This could be a good show to attend.
Are you planning to visit the Canadian Manufacturing Technologies Show? At least one of your competitors is exhibiting their self-adhesive decals which seems to make sense given the 700 exhibitors and 9,000 buyers who attend. In addition to finding could-be customers you may pick up some ideas and even gadgets to improve your own manufacturing processes. The show is from 25th to 28th September in the International Centre, Mississauga. Google Canadian Manufacturing Technologies Show for details.
Are billboards and signs still effective?
According to netpulse.com, health club marketing hasn’t changed in decades. It still includes billboards, signage and radio advertisements. The trouble is that they’re becoming less effective every year because members are simply paying no attention to the billboards and signage in particular while they’re absorbed by their digital devices. The question is, how many other industries does this apply to and what, as a sign business, can you do about it?
Small details matter
Here’s more feedback from a member of the target audience for the signs you produce—me!
Like any other consumer, if I take the trouble to read your customer’s advertising sign—which is after all why you produce it in the first place—then I expect to be able to get the message right away. If I don’t, your customer would have wasted his or her money paying you to print the sign, and that’s no way for you to build a repeat customer base.
Even if the design complies with all the conventional wisdom for making the message clear and easy to absorb quickly, the smallest oversight can still mess it up. Consider this example of a vehicle wrap that didn’t turn out as intended . . .
I was driving behind a Mini wrapped to promote a local coffee shop. Overall it was a very attractive and well-designed wrap inasmuch as you knew the name of the coffee shop right away. But there was a flaw which detracted from the effectiveness of the message the design was trying to convey.
Across the back window was bold lettering which said: “We might not be number one.” Underneath was smaller lettering which began: “But we sure . . .” and I couldn’t read the rest because it was partially covered by the window wiper. So the message would have been wasted on most people with more important things to do than be annoyed by a poorly-positioned window wiper (or message). However, I was curious, and for the next kilometer or so I drove behind the Mini until I figured out that the full line was: “But we sure have a lot of fun!”
The lesson here is that details matter. An otherwise great piece of sign design (in this case a vehicle wrap) can be spoiled by a small but important detail, such as the positioning of a window wiper.
It may be 12 years old, but it’s as true now as it was then.
As good a tip now as it was when first written 12 years ago in the first quarter edition of the 2005 SGIA Journal: “Whether you use a crystal ball, statistical analysis or a little of both to chart your way through the changing marketplace, one thing is for sure; to be successful you need to deliver solid value to your customers. Creativity, innovation, market awareness and positive results are key value points in today’s marketplace.” It bears thinking about.
What about this for an idea?
Your Roland equipment can do much more than signs. You can produce full-colour T-shirt graphics with the print/cut capabilities of your Roland equipment. Think flock, twill, and even rhinestone transfers.
How about this for sales campaign?
The Toronto Transit Commission has launched a courtesy campaign by posting signs of tweets from customers. Here are two examples: ” Why do people think that a seat is an acceptable place for their dirty shoes and feet?” and ” Why is it the people who have the worst taste in music are also the ones who don’t own headphones?” Could your sign shop sell a campaign like this to your local transit company?
Choose your film carefully!
If you choose the cheapest film you can find, it usually means that it’s also the most permanently adhesive film. And while that might represent a cost saving now, what about when you have to remove the film? It could cost more in labour and time when you have to remove the film than when you installed it. Choose your film carefully.
Choose your film carefully.
Graphic films stay up as long as the adhesive allows it to. There’s a range of options from which to choose, permanent to ultra-removable. Be aware of this and choose the film according to the application.
What about this for an idea?
While you’re thinking about what other markets your Roland can get you into, think about die-cut labels for jars and bottles.
Roland offers a suggestion on their site that seems just obvious enough to be overlooked – clean the inkjet heads. It turned out to be the solution to a printer’s hiccup on a Saturday when he couldn’t find technical support.
Offer wall graphics to enhance the working space in offices.
It has been known for a long time that the atmosphere in an office affects the productivity of the workers. Much of the atmosphere is created by how the office space looks. This means that there is an opportunity for digital printers to create a great atmosphere with images, most particularly wall graphics. Here is an opportunity worth investigating.
Retail store signs are changing.
You should note that signs are changing in the retail sector. As retailers look for ways to improve the customer’s experience, signs are being seen as investments rather than throw-aways poorly made of inexpensive materials. The result is more legible, three-dimensional, and illuminated signage treated with the same importance as other store fixtures.
After ten years of research and development, Kalitec of Quebec has developed Print Armor, a graffiti-resistant brand of printed signs. Part of their service is to print signs in-house for other sign shops for integration into larger projects such as interpretive panel systems. The signs come with a 10-year guarantee.
Digital technology in signs attracts younger customers.
Digitalsignagetoday.com says that digital technology itself creates a message that attracts younger customers. Using digital signage presents a brand as hip, modern and current with the times.
There must be something you can do with this idea.
Even if you’re a small digital and graphics shop, here’s a tip in the one-good-idea-leads-to-another category to consider. Signmedia reports that the Toronto Transit Commission is experimenting with printed vinyl walls and floors in the subway system to help raise the profile of buskers. They’re printed with a TTC logo, text and graphics to indicate that it’s an official busking spot. Now, the question is, how can you use this idea?
Don’t be too clever with your billboard designs.
Let me pass on something about billboard design from thebalance.com – don’t be boring, be smart but not too clever. A boring billboard will be ignored. A smart billboard will attract attention and leave an impression. A too-clever billboard will be passed by and the message will have been lost.
Give them the day off on their birthday.
During an economic downturn it might not always be possible to be generous with payroll dollars. There are however other ways to be generous to your staff. For instance, how about giving then the day off with full pay on their birthday? It will be appreciated and can only help boost staff morale. And it will cost you virtually nothing. It’s equivalent to only two minutes of their time a day over a year – you’re already losing much more than that in wasted, unproductive time.
As a producer of signs it might interest you to know that studies show that consumers are more likely to act on ad messages they see outside the home as opposed to inside the home. If you’re interested in finding out more about this phenomenon, the Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada is a good place to start.
Turn your imagination loose!
Just because you’re a smaller sign shop doesn’t mean you can’t be a creative sign shop. In fact, it might be one of the ways to beat the big guys and grow your business. Of course being able to offer your clients great graphics is one way to do it but what about really creative stuff like talking signs? Check out the industry literature – every so often there’s a brilliant idea you may be able to use.
Use the right film for outdoor applications!
If you use monomeric film in tough outdoor conditions, the chances are that the film will shrink and leave the underneath adhesive exposed around the margins. Then dirt will stick to the exposed adhesive and eventually form an unsightly black margin. The film may even begin to curl. It’s best to use polymeric film for exterior applications, especially if it’s for an extended period.