Local Business? Don’t Forget Your Most Efficient Form of Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, there are thousands of options. As an entrepreneur or small business owner you know that the task of marketing your business can be an intimidating endeavor, especially when trying to decide what works the best for you. When I talk with business owners, they always tell me they know they should put more effort into marketing their business, but somewhere in between accounting and inventory, they just don’t have the time or they don’t know where to start.

Let me first say that as a marketer myself, I firmly believe that having a solid marketing mix is the best strategy for growing your business. Combinations of online and offline campaigns can prove greatly beneficial for your company. However, the current trends in online marketing often cause people to forget the value of offline campaigns and if you are a local business looking for local customers, the one piece you can’t neglect is your signage. For many businesses, signs have become an afterthought. Just drive down the main street in your town or city and you’ll see what I mean – broken down and poorly designed signs that are merely used to identify location.

Success as a local business is determined by many factors, but having quality signage can go a long way to ensuring your business stays around longer than your competition. I love what the International Sign Association (ISA) says:

“In order to fully realize the potential earnings of signage, merchants must look at signage not just as a way of marking the business but also as a way of marketing the business. Your on-premise sign should identify your business, mark its location, and convey the right image of your company. But, the most important thing it should communicate is what you are selling.”

The ISA goes on to state that at a minimum, your on-premise signage attracts new customers, brands your business and creates impulse purchases. Statistics show that 85 percent of your customers live within a five mile radius of your business but over 18 percent of that population relocates annually. That means that your signage should be designed, located and installed in a manner that routinely attracts first time viewers and reinforces your presence to your current customer base. By doing so you will create brand loyalty and increase impulse purchases.

One study* showed that when asked “How did you hear about us?” 50 percent of customers responded by saying that on-premise signage was solely responsible for them stopping and shopping at the store. That 50 percent is higher than all other marketing and advertising channels and was even higher than word-of-mouth.

Not convinced? What if I quoted another study** which found that a simple improvement in on-site signage increased sales 7 to 15 percent. The best part is signage is one of the least expensive forms of advertising. This makes your 7 to 15 percent increase in sales a straight increase to the bottom line since you are adding almost nothing in expenses.

So, it’s clear that signage is extremely important for local businesses, but just having a sign does not guarantee success. In fact, a bad sign can have just the opposite effect. Here are a couple quick tips to keep in mind when designing your signage:

  • Keep it simple – Think about your message as if you were the viewer. If it is too much copy or too confusing, your sign will be ignored.
  • Keep it legible – Think about the distance between the viewers and your sign. Can they read it? Make sure your URL or phone number is clearly displayed.
  • Keep it consistent – Over-creative imagery or text could lead to improper interpretation. Choose graphics that easily convey what your core business is and what action you want the viewer to take.

Daniel Royer –
Daniel Royer is the Communications Director at Check out more of his work at or follow him on Twitter at @signsdotcom.

*Charles R. Taylor, Claus & Claus. On-Premise Signs as Storefront Marketing Devices and Systems. U.S. Small Business Administration. Washington, DC. 2005.

**Figures from The Economic Value of On-Premise Signage, a study conducted by the University of San Diego School of Business Administration.

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