Sign Expo Canada

Attending industry events is so important to the survival and progress of your shop that we’re going to keep bringing them to your notice and encourage you to attend.

The next one to know about is the Sign Expo Canada at the International Centre, Mississauga, Ontario on September 20th and 21st 2019. If you’d like to consider exhibiting there are still spots available. You can see the floor plan here.

If you’re not exhibiting you should join the many other attendees from around the world to see what the Canadian sign industry has to offer. If you’re hesitating, ask yourself why, if some people can come from other countries to attend, you can’t come from another province, Ontario city, or even close-by suburb. Be engaged in your industry. Attend.



Strategy considerations

A resource for finding new, less-competitive markets.

Kim and Mauborgne’s book, Blue Ocean Strategy, was primarily written with larger businesses in mind but there is much that applies to small business as well. if you are disinclined to sit and read their book why not buy the audio version and listen to it while doing something like walking or on your daily commute to the shop? It’s bound to give you food for thought if you’re looking for ways to advance your business.

The basic premise of the book is finding new markets away from where the competition is intense and where you and your competitors are beating each other up. It’s possible but not without a bit of effort and that effort includes accessing the kind of information available from Blue Ocean Strategy.

Sign Manufacturing Day

Sign Manufacturing Day organised by SAC-ACE.

If you contact you can find out about Sign Manufacturing Day. It’s an opportunity to participate in an event whereby you host students from local schools to learn about the sign making industry directly from professionals.

The potential benefits are obvious, the most obvious being that you’ll be building a labour pipeline. Shops from seven provinces (BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) participated last year; it’s a concept that’s spreading.

Fraudulent trading firms

Usually there are red flags.

Beware of companies that send random purchase inquiries by email. is warning about UAE-based fraudulent trading firms. They remind us to not be impressed by fancy websites and glowing testimonials because they can easily be fake.

Here is an example of what they’re talking about. It’s an excerpt form an email received this week . . .

”  Dear Sir/Ma,

We are interested in purchasing some of your products. This products are needed ASAP at our head office in Dubai U.A.E, We would like to know if you offer services to international customers, We have a private shipping company who handles our shipping when products are ready for collection. We would also like to confirm if you accept wire transfers. Kindly let us know ASAP.

Sales Manager”


Now the SCOTYs

We’ve encouraged you before to enter the BOCSIs (Best of Canada’s Sign Industry Awards) as a means of promoting your work and your shop. Now they’re adding the SCOTYs (Sign Company of the Year Awards).

The thing about entering these industry awards is that not only can it earn favourable publicity but it will motivate staff and build team spirit—who isn’t motivated by a competition?

You can find out more and enter at



Printing on canvas

Now that is a good idea worth pursuing!

Sign Media Canada spoke with Ginny Mumm of Roland and reported as follows in their editorial: “She says as print technology improves and consumers’ understanding of what is possible in printing expands, print shop owners are increasingly asked to produce graphics and images on canvas.”

If this is true, why wait to be asked? Why not gear up to print on canvas and then get out there and offer it? It may well spark a need among your existing customer base that haven’t thought of printing on canvas and don’t know that you can print on it.

What if digital signage is not your core competency?

Strike an outsourcing deal.

You may have a long-standing customer who approaches you about digital signage. No need to get ulcers just because digital signage is not your thing, not one of your shop’s core competencies. If turning them down flat may cost you a customer, there is another alternative—outsourcing. You could strike an outsourcing deal with a shop that specializes in digital signage. Obviously you’re going to research potential shops carefully and find one you can work with and who is willing to work with you. Pull this off and you would have created a team to address your customer’s needs for both static and digital signage.

Focus or diversify? Don’t head off blindfolded.

Don’t head off blindfolded not knowing whether you should focus or diversify.

I’ve just read a Shopify blog post that encourages new entrepreneurs to narrow their focus. There’s much to be said for this concept in certain circumstances such as the subject of the post, a three-year-old men’s jeans company that has grown into a million-dollar business. The business focuses only on “jeans for men that are as comfortable as sweat pants.” On the other hand, I’ve also just read about a company that started out as a sign shop and is now diversified into posters, t-shirts and vehicle graphics. This owner credits diversification to the success of his shop.

So, focus or diversification? I guess it depends upon variables such as your industry, resources, location, and market. The important thing to know is that your shop’s success could depend upon one or the other of these two options. You therefore need to study both and make an informed decision rather than just stumble along blindfolded and not knowing where you’re going.

Does your shop give back to the community?

Giving back to your community can get your sign shop a lot of attention.

It’s not just a noble gesture to give back to the community, it also makes good business sense. According to, The Sign Cellar in Kamloops encourages local not-for-profit organizations to get in touch so that they can help them with their signs for events or for marketing their services. So, quite rightly, having heard this, we immediately have a favourable impression of The Sign Cellar. This of course means that you can be pretty sure that local businesses have the same favourable impression. So, ask yourself, who are some of those businesses going to think of first when they need signage? Exactly! Now ask yourself how your shop can give back to the community.

The BOCSIes are coming around again


This could be you.


Sign Media and the Sign Association of Canada’ Best Of Canada’s Sign Industry awards are coming around again. Entries for the 2019 version open on May 1st. Why not take a shot at getting your shop on the industry map by entering some of your best work? Recognition through awards like this are good for business as well as a boost for the morale of the shop.

You can find all you need to know here at the BOCSI website.

ISA 2019 Expo happening in 8 days. You going to be there?

The ISA Expo 2019 is on the 24th and 25th of this month (that’s in 8 days) at the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre, Las Vegas. You really should be there (can 20,000 attendees be wrong?)  There are of course all the exhibits where you will see equipment and products in action but then there are also the information sessions. For instance, one that should interest Canadian shops is titled “Print Boot Camp: Essential Skills for Success” where a number of industry experts will showcase new revenue generators for printers. Click here for more information about the Expo and to register.

How’s the bold colour trend forecast for 2019 working for you?

I wonder, should I go with the bold-colour trend for 2019?


Printsome predicted that the 2018 trend toward bold colours taking over design would only get stronger in 2019. Should you be following this trend? By “bold colours” they don’t mean supersaturated colours but bold combinations not just slapped together but used according to a game plan.  What are you finding? Give you any ideas?

Hey Boss, how open is your open door?

How open is your open door?


Progress in the shop can be much better if the employees are engaged in identifying opportunities for improvement. Why? Because, after all, they’re the ones on the front lines where inefficiencies are obvious and where ideas for improvements arise. But do you as the owner of the shop have a mechanism or do you create an atmosphere in which your people are encouraged to share their ideas? If you don’t, you won’t ever enjoy the potential benefits they could deliver. So, Boss, how open is your door really?

Graphics show to attend!

The Graphics Canada show at the International Centre In Toronto is on next week from April 11th to 13th. Roland and a bunch of other major manufacturers will be there. If you can attend, you should. This is one of the most effective ways of staying up to date on developments in our industry. It’s also a good way to stay ahead of the competition, particularly if they can’t be bothered to attend are willing to run the risk of not keeping current.


Doug Presisniuk is celebrating 40 years with the company his dad, Stanley, started 40 years ago. Congratulations to Doug and congratulations to Stanley. It’s a rare achievement.

There is still a phone-answering problem

Don’t make your customers leave messages; answer the phone.


The problem is that smaller shops will allow calls to go to voicemail instead of answering them. Voicemail is not a good substitute for a real, live person. Customers and potential customers are an impatient lot and many will not wait for the return call or they’re skeptical and don’t believe the message about calling back soon. They’ll just go to one of your competitors. So if you absolutely can’t answer all your calls, sign up with a call-answering service; it’s bound to be cheaper than losing customers.

Advising sign customers against “cheap”

Cheap signs might be naive and short-sighted. Your customer needs to know this.


Does your shop just accept orders without question or does it offer advice to customers who may be going “cheap” at their own peril? Customers should know that signs reflect the nature and character of their business. Signs with poor design and an overall “cheap” look because of trying to trim the budget too much, might do more harm than good to a customer’s cause. Naive and inexperienced customers might not have given this much thought and might appreciate your advice. The trick is for you to sound like you’re helping, not upselling.

Roland — time to upgrade or expand?

Too many customers for your equipment to handle?

So your Roland (or Rolands) are doing very well for you. But have you looked at the possibility of upgrading or even adding to your equipment? We all like to see more demand for our business’s services or products but when we can’t deliver on time or can’t handle the volume, it can turn customers off and inhibit our growth. If this describes your situation, it’s time to call Rob or Graham at Stanley’s and see what they can do for you with additional equipment ideas.

Rob is at Stanley’s Edmonton – 780 424 414. Graham is at Stanley’s Calgary – 403 243 7722.

Thinking of exhibiting?

Why are you confusing us with so many choices? puts out a lot of good material for printers and print users. For instance, here are the results of a study that support the idea that you need to keep your show booth simple and uncluttered. On consecutive Saturdays a high-end grocery store offered jam samples to customers. The first Saturday there were 24 flavours to choose from. The second Saturday, just 6. On the first Saturday 60% of people passing stopped to taste the jams. On the second Saturday 40% of people stopped and tasted. But, and its a BIG but, on the first Saturday when there was a big choice only 3% of tasters bought jam. On the second Saturday when there was a limited choice, 30% of tasters bought jam. So, the conclusion is that more isn’t better. The trade show booth lesson is to focus on a few key items and get rid of the unnecessary junk. People value simplicity when making decisions.

Stuff you should know

I should be telling my customers that!


Roland can be a great source of stuff you should know. For instance, here is something to refer to in your marketing and sales efforts; it’s straight from Roland: “The effectiveness of outdoor signage is supported by data results from a popular FedEx survey, revealing that 76% of people enter a store or business based on its sign, and 60% of the public are deterred from entering a store or business if it doesn’t have a quality sign.”

How not to boost profits in your sign shop

Cutting quality is no way to improve profitability.

Here’s a common story. See if you recognize it . . .  A sign shop is not meeting profit expectations. What is the first thing the owner does? Looks for more sales and cuts costs, right? And what is the obvious cost-cutting target? Material costs. But therein lies a problem inasmuch as cutting material costs usually means buying poorer quality materials which brings with it the risk of poorer quality output. And poorer quality output is not going to improve sales. So, rather than focusing on cutting material costs and risking lower quality output, look at overheads for savings, look for improved efficiency in operations, look for price increase opportunities, and look for an additional market area. But never cut quality; it’s false economy.

Who is your market and why should they be?

This Is Marketing as shown by Amazon

Seth Godin in his book, This Is Marketing, offers a simple template to develop a three-sentence promise as a basis for your marketing. You just have to think about it and complete these sentences:

First sentence: My product is for people who believe ………………………………………

Second sentence: I will focus on people who want …………………………………………..

Third sentence: I promise that engaging with what I make will help you get …………………………………….

Before you can market your sign shop, you must be clear about who your products and services are for. These sentences can help do that.

Stanley’s SAV-140G Print Vinyl

SAV-140G — Stanley’s workhorse vinyl.

SAV- 140G is quite simply Stanley’s house brand of print vinyl. It is sturdy, cost effective, and popular for indoor jobs. It offers an opaque finish. What else is there to say except to call Stanley’s if you want to know anything else about this workhorse vinyl?

What do people say about you?


Seth Godin, in his book, This is Marketing, points out that what you say about yourself, your business (in this case your sign shop), and your products, is not nearly as important as what people say about you. This is similar to the old adage that people like doing business with people they like.

Rewarding employees


Per Michael LeBoeuf: “With so many ways to reward people, you may ask, ‘How do I decide to reward each person?’ The answer is simple: Ask them.”

How do you go about rewarding your employees?

In the field with wrinkly vinyl and no heat gun?

Not just for grabbing, good for heating too.


Here’s a tip from Fluoresco Lighting of Tuscon . . . If you find yourself in the field applying vinyl and it decides to wrinkle, what can you do if you don’t have a heat gun? Well, try covering the area with your hands for about thirty seconds and that should be just enough to enable you to lay the wrinkle down.

Stanley’s BLO-610 Premium Blockout Banner

This is an 18 oz. banner with great printability and ink reception. It’s durable and well suited to outdoor applications, even in Canada’s aggressive weather. It copes well in wind as well. Call Stanley’s Edmonton, Calgary, and Richmond offices for more details or how this film can help you deliver great work to your customers.

The future of graphic design in a digital media age

Responding to opinions that the days of printed graphic media are numbered in an article on the future of graphic design, someone wrote: “As for print media, I still stand firm on it. There are just some things you can’t do in digital media: providing billboards, postcards, business cards, all sorts of media that you can feel and put in your hands. Sure, the volume may be less, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant.” Where do you stand on this?

Typeface trend for 2019

Typeface trend from U.K. for 2019

From Printsome in the U.K.: “After several years of domination in the Digital and Graphic world, sans-serif typefaces are giving way to the likes of Bookman and Old Style fonts once again in an effort to reclaim originality and expression, You’ll find the best uses of these styles in food packaging, artistic websites, fashion brands and luxury products. Digital products are excellent opportunities to break the mould of sans-series usage . . .”

What do you think? Give you any ideas?Worth taking note of for Canada?

Stanley’s B02-440 Premium Frontlit Banner

This is a white substrate for frontlit display and billboard applications. It offers a smooth surface and stable performance for vibrant and consistent print quality. Call Stanley’s Edmonton, Calgary and Richmond offices for more details or to discuss how this film can be used in your shop.