Well-designed signage is a must for any business entity, large or small. Up-to-date coloration of your logo and logo-type are always a plus. Nothing looks worse than an outdated sign that was installed yesterday. That's the positive statement regarding good color and logo design.
However... many a company has gone down the tubes, particularly since 2008, that had great colors in their signs and full color advertising because the economy was tough, but also because in a tough economy, only the tough survive. I can think of half a dozen, which will remain unnamed, off the top of my head.
So, while up-to-date logo marks and collateral materials are always a plus, your business needs more to survive and thrive in the 2nd decade of the 21st century. A good conduit to your client base is always necessary, but a good conduit does not good marketing make. You may spend millions on advertising to the right crowd and find your bottom line is slowly sinking into the red. And you may have absolutely no clue as to why it is happening. Your competition may be getting more profitable by the quarter while you're languishing at break even, or worse.
Should you go out and hire a high-priced, high-powered marketing firm to get you even more exposure?
That reminds me of a story I heard decades ago about a couple of fishermen in Norway, Sven and Oly (they're always named Sven and Oly in these stories). Sven and Oly are selling lots of fish at the open market, but they seem to never have any money left, or at least very little. So, Sven suggest to Oly that they go talk to the banker to get a loan. The banker looks at their books and says, "but you're losing money!" To which they replied, "it is because we need a bigger boat!"
Business people, if you're losing money, you may need to patch the holes in the one you have. Once you do that, and stop the cash from bleeding out of your business, then you can focus on a bigger boat, or advertising budget, or storefront, but if you're bleeding, your first task is to stop the bleeding and start turning a profit.
You may need to look at you client base. Maybe your advertising is targeting too wide of a base. Maybe too narrow. Maybe completely the wrong base. If you sell a tech-widget, and you're advertising in "Retirement Times," maybe you should be advertising in GQ.
Maybe your market is right, but your message is wrong. How can you know?
Well, there are some simple ways to test this in the 21st century, which is great news! You can utilized pay-per-click advertising for one, or, if you prefer to stick with magazine advertising, you can code your ads with variable codes to see which messages pull the best. This is a great way to see if your ads are pulling any clients.
So, for instance, you want to sell your tech widget to the younger tech savvy crowd under age 35. You place two ads in GQ in similar locations so that one is not better seen than the other if possible, then offer a 25% discount to mention the discount code on the ad. Your headline on one ad reads "Be the Hippest Coolest Person in Your Peer Group" and the discount code is 123. The other reads "87.3% of Users of Our Tech Widget Prefer it Over Tech Widget A, B, or C," with the discount code ABC.
The ad goes out in the January 2014 issue of GQ, and within a month, you find that GQ readers purchased twice as often with code 123 as they did with code ABC. This ad now becomes your "control" ad. You can now test other ads against this one until another becomes the control. American Express had one ad that retained the "control" status for over 20 years!
As stated previously, though, you can test your ads faster now online with pay-per-click advertising, but the principle is still the same. So, yes, full color printing and well-balanced and colored logos and collateral materials and advertising are definitely a huge benefit, but ultimately, your message and your client services will decide whether you win or lose with your firm.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barry K. Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn't what he thought he'd do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!
He has been marketing these products online since 1998, and the company he was general manager of in 1998 was the first sign company to be listed on Yahoo!