Digital marketing seems to have taken over the retail industry. For many marketers, all they can talk about today is going viral, hashtagging and SEO optimization. Technology has moved so far so fast that it feels at times as though the entire industry has abandoned traditional marketing. However, if you look inside retail locations today, you’ll find that despite the massive changes that have seized the marketing function in recent years, there’s still a place for that simplest of marketing tools — the sign. Even though much of the focus in the marketing world today is on the complex science behind leveraging the Internet for maximum effect, the humble sign continues to be one of the most powerful marketing tools available, despite the technology at its core being as old as ancient papyrus scrolls.
Yet even though the paper sign has been around since ancient times, that doesn’t mean we’ve perfected its use. Retailers today still have a lot to learn about what makes a sign effective as a marketing tool. Here are some of the most common mistakes retailers continue to make with their in-store signage and how they can be avoided.
Too Much Information
Signs need to be informative to be of any value as marketing tools, but there’s a balance that needs to be struck. If an in-store sign is announcing an upcoming sale, letting customers know when the sale is, how much the discount is and which products it applies to should be enough information. Information should be short and direct, because overloading a sign with every bit of information you think might be relevant makes it confusing and encourages shoppers to ignore it.
Getting Too Fancy
Even if a sign has just the right amount of relevant information on it, shoppers still might not pay attention to it if it’s too hard to read. Overly elaborate typefaces and tiny font sizes might seem appealing from an artistic standpoint. Though with in-store signage, aesthetic considerations have to play second-fiddle to the messaging. An unusual typeface or garish colors might grab shoppers’ attention, but that won’t mean anything if shoppers don’t want to focus past those to read the message.
Waiting Too Long to Refresh
It may be thrifty for a retailer to hold onto signs for a long time, but faded, dingy-looking signs can end up having the opposite effect of what’s intended. Signs that feature tears, faded colors or outdated information can turn off customers. If retailers don’t refresh their in-store signage often enough, it gives the impression that the retailer doesn’t care or the store is on the verge of going under. Neither one of those are something retailers want shoppers to think about when looking at in-store signage.
Too Little Planning
We live in a world where instant gratification is not only possible, but now expected. Now that e-commerce has made it possible to buy something online and have it delivered the next day, retailers may assume that they can expect that same type of next-day service from their sign company. Although sign makers might be eager to deliver projects with lightning-fast turnaround, speed is nowhere near as important as accuracy when it comes to in-store signage. Submitting requests in plenty of time prevents mistakes from slipping through, and it gives the sign company time to fine-tune the design so that the finished product is as effective a marketing tool as possible.
As ubiquitous as digital marketing has become today, it still doesn’t have complete dominance of the marketing landscape. Until LED screens become as affordable as paper, there will always be a place for the humble but effective in-store sign. That means retailers need to know how they can ensure their in-store signage is as effective as it can be.
About the writer: Steve A. Parker is the director of communications at Raider Signage, a California-based commercial signage company committed to installing quality sings, including monument signs, LED digital signage and custom signs.
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