Why rushing when making a business sign is almost a GUARANTEE of failure

Rushing a sign – Almost a guarantee to make a mess

I love the saying “ the quality is generally remembered long after the headache of the delay “

We believe every non-cyber business needs a sign – and even some cyber businesses – need a sign. As the true, old adage goes – A Business Without A Sign Is A Sign Of No Business 

However, because we believe that all businesses need a sign does not mean that everyone agrees, especially when setting up the business and planning a budget. As such, we often see businesses that only remember they need a sign the day before they open their doors, when their budget has been depleted, and then they expect us to deliver their quality, complex sign the next day. 

Most people do not understand what makes a sign work, and they do not understand the process that goes into making a sign. While this is as it should be, it does bring it’s own challenges, especially in this modern world of IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION where many people believe that they can simply make a call or send an email and their custom sign – custom design, custom colours, custom size – will pop off the shelf and be ready in a matter of hours – which is not always realistic or possible as most components are HAND MADE.

The process involved in making signs is generally a very simple one consisting of a number of time consuming, labour intensive steps.

  1. The sign needs to be designed. Even when our clients have and supply a logo, very often the logo is not in a format that we can manufacture from. This takes a designer time to prepare.

  2. The sign needs to be manufactured. Depending on the sign this process can consist of computerized and / or manual labour. When manual labour is involved each component is made by hand, and this takes time to get a quality finish.

  3. When necessary the sign needs to be coloured to match the client’s colour specifications. Another manual, time consuming and labour intensive process.

  4. The sign needs to be prepared for installation – to ensure that the sign looks like the client’s name and / or logo and ensure that the image the sign projects is as per the client’s expectations. Another time consuming, manual labour process.

  5. If the sign needs to be illuminated the entire process of wiring and connecting the lights is a time consuming, labour intensive process.  
  6. Finally the sign needs to be installed, which is ALWAYS a time consuming, manual process.

As can be seen from this extremely oversimplified list, there are generally a number of manual, time consuming, labour intensive processes involved in the production of every sign.

It is because of the manual component that rushing a sign is more often than not a guaranteed recipe for something to GO WRONG, for the finished product to be poor quality, and ultimately for the sign to be rejected.

It is always advisable to ASK your sign maker HOW LONG they expect it will take to make and install your sign, then, unless they have a guarantee associated with the deadlineadd in a few days to make sure that you can realistically plan for when the sign will be installed.

For signs with a GUARANTEED deadline contact us at SignForce. We design, manufacture and install your quality signs, starting with the view that your successful sign needs to deliver on your expectations.

Call now on +27 (0) 11 440 7525 or email us at arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za

You can also view our gallery at http://www.signforce.co.za/gallery.php or view pictures at Google+https://plus.google.com/b/118104575416251079229/+SignforceCoZaforbestsigns or FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/SignForceSouthAfrica

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What type of sign does my business need?

What kind of sign does my business need?

One of the most important decisions that you can make about your business signs is ‘What  kind of sign’ is going to be best for your business taking into account:

(a) what the sign is intended to achieve,

(b) your businesses location and

(c) your budget.

While it may seem ‘obvious’ that as your sign supplier I want you to spend as much as possible on your sign, it is important for me to remember that it is not about me, but rather what is best for your business and from SignForce’s perspective, our future relationship as your business grows and prospers.

I find it is ALWAYS best to start with knowing and understanding what your sign needs to achieve.

If, for example, your sign is intended solely to make a statement that YOU as a business “HAVE ARRIVED”, then an excessively large sign may work and do well to get your desired message across. If, on the other hand you want people to see your sign as an invitation to visit and come into your premises, then the said large sign may result in you spending more than was necessary, and may be costing you business by dissuading potential customers from entering your premises because the sign is not the correct type of sign for your intended target market.

Generally signs will be used to invite, inform, direct and persuade potential readers.

An example of a sign that ‘invites‘ could be a store front sign that is intended to ‘invite’ the reader into your store. Because the sign is intended to invite the reader into your store, the sign needs to be able to stand out from the surrounding signs and environment. For example, if your store sells fast food in the fast food area of a shopping mall, and your competitors all have beautifully decorated illuminated signs, unless your sign is equally beautiful and illuminated, possibly with an additional dimension like flashing lights or a lifestyle picture showing someone enjoying one of your meals, the chances are that your potential clients will overlook your sign and your business, thus potentially costing you money. While ‘invitational’ signs can be decorated Chromadek (treated metal), this is often not allowed by shopping centers, and may not achieve your desired effect. Often fabricated,3D signs are used for invitational signs.

 An example of a sign intended to ‘inform‘ is a street sign or a warning sign. These signs are intended to ‘inform ‘ drivers of impending dangers or of changes in road conditions or of upcoming situations, such as a guarded intersection, an unguarded intersection, a traffic light or hidden access to the road. Information signs are usually large and generally made from the most cost effective material that will achieve the objective of getting the desired message across while at the same time having the desired life span, which depends a lot on the climatic conditions where the sign is to be installed.

 Signs that are intended to ‘direct‘ include motorway and highway signs – such as directing readers to keep in the right lane to go to Timbuktu and keep left to go to Cape Town. Directional signs, like directory signs, also assist readers to get to where they are looking to go. Like information signs, Directional signs are usually made from the most cost effective material that will achieve the objective of getting the desired message across while at the same time having the desired life span, which depends a lot on the climatic conditions where the sign is to be installed. Directional signs, especially those that are indoors, also offer the opportunity for designers to integrate the signs into the aesthetics of the building and office environment, so the range of possible materials is large and could include wood, plastics, metal or glass, or a combination of all of these.

Directional and directory signs can begin doing their intended work when entering a premises – with say a sign reading RECEPTION with an arrow directing people to the reception, followed by a directory board in the reception – with the directory board informing the reader which wing, floor and room the reader is intending to visit.

Lastly an example of a sign intended to ‘persuade‘ could be a in-store poster or a billboard sign showing a product, such as a sign showing how a specific brand of washing powder will wash whiter and brighter than a competing brand. The message is intended to persuade the reader to buy and try the advertised product.

All of the above must take into consideration your budget as well as what return is expected – measured in terms of any of the following: number of feet, increase sales, decreased complaints, decreased incidents and accidents, or a combination of all of these. The most common upmarket signs that are used to persuade tend to have a metal (aluminum) frame with the printed message printed onto a gloss paper or vinyl. The material used would depend on the look and feel of the store as well as the intended target market.

By now I am sure you understand that while there may be a standard, off the shelf solution to your question as to “what type of sign does my business need”, there are many variations, answers and opinions to the answer the question. For this reason, as well as all the reasons given above, or if you are unsure of what sign you are looking for, or which sign would best achieve your intended objective, calling a SignForce sign consultant to get an expert opinion can reduce your stress and help you make an informed decision.

If you are in the market for professional looking signs at “FAIR VALUE”, and would like advice on how best to project your business’s image while considering any funds you spend on marketing and signs as an investment, please contact the writer at arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will gladly assist and advise you.

How long should a digital print last?

How long should a digital print last?

From experience, and the guarantees that are offered by the various ink suppliers in South Africa, it can be seen that the life of a digital print will vary depending on three variables. 1. The location of the print, 2. the type of ink used and the substrate that the print is printed on, and 3. the printer that is used.

Since indoor prints are generally protected from the elements of sun and rain, I will not discuss them, as they can last for a VERY long time.

Outdoor prints, on the other hand, are a very different matter.

Location:  In southern Africa, because of the harshness of the sun, prints tend to last for a maximum of three years, depending on location and exposure to the elements.

In the above picture you can see how the inks have faded, and these signs were only up for 30 months. What is important to note is that these signs are located in the Sua Pan – a VERY harsh salt pan in Botswana, where they are pounded by the harsh Africa sun all day. These signs were also UV coated to protect the inks, but, as you can see, the colour has still faded substantially.

Inks and Substrates: Certain printers inks are less expensive, as are ‘pirate’ inks, and these inks tend to be less expensive because they have a shorter life span. The logic here is that the current substrates generally only has a three year life, so any inks lasting longer than three years are wasteful.

It is also worth noting that there are printers who blend their own inks in order to keep costs down. While I am aware of printers guaranteeing their prints for longer than three years, I have yet to find inks – especially red based inks – that will last much longer than three years, so be wary of any prints guaranteed for longer than the industry norm of three years.

Printers: Different digital printer manufacturers have different quality inks, as well as the printer’s printing quality differing. The result is often that ‘cheaper’ prints tend to ‘run’ or ‘bleed’ after a short time being exposed to the harsh African elements, creating an image that you should not want as a representation of your business.

At SignForce we use a Roland printer (that can print to 1,300 mm wide) with original inks. Roland has proven to have very stable inks, and even these are not expected to last longer than three years.

If longevity of your outdoor sign is important, while you may not get the colour match of a digital print, and the cost will be higher, you may want to consider flat colour, cut vinyl’s. These do cost more but they also tend to last about twice as long as the average digital print.

For further information on the life of a digital print or if you are in the market for professional looking signs at “FAIR VLAUE”, and would like advice on how best to project your business’s image while considering any funds you spend on marketing and signs as an investment, please contact the writer at arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you.

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What happens when signs lie?

 

When marketers get carried away with their enthusiasm

I find it fascinating when marketers get so carried away with their own enthusiasm that they clean forget to tell the truth.  Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how this one is possible?

As a general rule, even if you are trying to be funny, a sign – or any marketing claim – should be honest, or at least have a link to reality.  Although outlandish claims can be used, and viewed as humorous, the humor is seldom conveyed when used in a static media, such as this sign.   Unfortunately signs like these can have a negative effect that entirely eliminate any possible benefits that could be gained from erecting the sign in the first place.

For advice on signs that get your intended message across, contact arnold@signforce.co.za or david@signforce.co.za and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will gladly get back to you

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Why business signs make good financial sense in the modern world

Why business signs make good financial sense in the modern world

There is an old sign adage that reads: “ A business without a sign is a sign of NO BUSINESS”, and believe it or not, it is as true today as it was a hundred years ago – possibly even more so.

OK, before you all shoot me down, let me elaborate.

Yes, in the modern world, I have to concede that not every business needs a sign, because some businesses simply NEVER see clients. Cyber businesses are one such example.

However, being the human animals that we are, most people still visit stores, not only for the social interaction, but also be cause they want to TOUCH and FEEL the merchandise they are going to purchase. It is an almost primal need to touch, in order to see better. If you are a parent, simply think of how often you have to tell your toddler that they don not need to “touch to see”! (The truth is they DO! We all do)

Because of the desire to touch to see, shops, stores, supermarkets and the like are still going to be around for the foreseeable future, and if they want people to visit them, they have to stand out from the competition. One way to achieve this is to possibly have a bigger, and certainly have a BETTER sign.

BETTER in signage generally refers to LARGER, although this is not always the case. Sometimes a simple sign can make a far bolder statement than the larger, illegible sign that is screaming at you.

In the modern world us human animals are still pretty much unchanged in our habits and nature, and as such we need to remember that while internet marketing, social media, Google and the like are all fantastic tools, they are just that – TOOLS! Like a good electrician, who will have more than a hammer and a set of screwdrivers in their toolbox, a good modern marketer should keep in mind that even if your internet marketing gets the client’s to the shopping centre where your store is located, if the client walks past your store because you do not have a sign, all your marketing effort has been for naught!

There is also the reality that signs tend to be a once off purchase, or at worst an irregular purchase. When one compares the cost of a great sign to the monthly cost of a salaried salesperson who may not have the best client service manner, the cost of the sign tends to be a lot cheaper than the alternatives.

If you are willing to hear OUR truth, and possibly even receive some expert advice on what signs will work for you, SignForce are marketing professionals with experience over multiple medium’s, and we will gladly give you our truth.

If you are in the market for professional looking signs at “FAIR VLAUE”, and would like advice on how best to project your business’s image while making any funds you spend on marketing and signs an investment, please contact the writer at arnold@signforce.co.zaor david@signforce.co.za and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you.

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Does Content Marketing mean ANYTHING to you?

It seems to me that the current “BUZZ” word in social media marketing is CONTENT MARKETING.

I agree that content marketing is essential if one is to educate your client’s, both because this is how SignForce has built it’s reputation, and also because educated client’s tend to look beyond the immediate investment, and look at the long term benefits of quality, insurance and guarantees that have been tried and tested.

While looking at my LinkedIn profile today the question came to mind. What exactly is the CONTENT that people come to SignForce (and me personally) for. I asked this question because personally I have more endorsements for specific marketing related activities than specifically signage related one’s.

Now since SignForce is a sign consulting, design, manufacture and installation business, this initially struck me as strange. However, with further thought I realized that it is not surprising that people endorse me (and hence SignForce) for marketing, as signage is marketing, and at SignForce we DO advise, not only on signage but on how signs should fit into a business’s complete marketing strategy. Hence the SignForce blog tends to focus on marketing related education.

Have you given any thought to what niche or market you and your business fit into, and if so, what is the content that you focus on?

Whether you are looking for marketing professionals with experience over multiple medium’s, or if you are in the market for professional looking signs at “FAIR VLAUE”, and would like advice on how best to project your business’s image while making any funds you spend on marketing and signs an investment, please contact the writer at arnold@signforce.co.zaor david@signforce.co.za and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you.

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How does my business survive a recession?

With the world markets in turmoil and no certain end in site for the recession that most countries seem to be in, does business need to step in and assist government, or should the assistance for business come from government?

For there to be a light of hope at the end of the tunnel of doom and gloom, it seems to me that government should be assisting business, implementing procedures that create work for ‘the people’, assisting the economy to grow.

To assist with this job creation, government need to look at long term projects that are financed by taxes and create long term jobs. At the same time, business – especially small business – needs to be encouraged and supported by government for creating jobs. This can easily be done by giving tax breaks, or other incentives to small business.

While this is a logical, and tested approach, it seems that at the current time in South Africa, our idiot elected officials are way too busy jockeying for positions so that they can openly rape the coffers, for them to care about the electorate, or business.

This can be seen by our president’s proud announcement in March 2012 that there are 15 million South Africans receiving social grants – a quick way to bankrupt any economy – as well as the myriad of taxes that are being imposed on the ever more stretched tax payers.

Since government are certainly showing that they are not there to assist small – or any – business, what can business do to ensure their survival until that light at the end of the tunnel is once again turned on.

History has shown that investing in fixed assets, and generating more business tend to be two good ways to keep ahead of inflation, and is most likely a brilliant bet to continue to be able to afford the ever increasing taxes.

Since SignForce is not in the business of marketing fixed assets, we cannot assist you with those purchases, but we are in the business of custom communications, which means that we are well positioned to assist you to ensure that that portion of your marketing budget that is going to signs is an investment in marketing.

For advise on or assistance in how to ensure that your ad-spend is an investment, contact Arnold or David at http://www.signforce.co.za/action.php

Are signs TRULY an important element in YOUR Marketing Mix?

In this modern, connected world of INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA, SMS MARKETING and FAST CHANGE is an OLD FASHIONED, STATIC sign still important.

The simple answer is a RESOUNDING YES.

While I understand this is a generalization and may not be as relevant for EVERY business, it IS important for ANY BUSINESS THAT WANTS TO BE SEEN and VISITED.

On Thursday I went to take advantage of a sale at a local butcher. I had previously received the MASS SMS informing me that they had ‘moved’. From a marketing perspective the sms was poorly worded in that it simply stated that they had relocated and gave the new address – no special offer, no call to action, simply an informative sms – which I figured was an error. They were a landmark where they were, and they had moved into a totally different area, so my thinking was they were advising of a new branch opening. It was only when I went past the ‘old’ premises that I realised they HAD MOVED – and I had deleted the ‘relocation’ sms days before my visit.

So the search began. I was eventually advised where they had moved to, and off I went. When I got to the location that I was told of, there was nothing to alert me to the fact that this was the new premises. I then called ‘info’, got the old number, had to dial it to get the ‘new’ number, then called that number to get directions, only to be told that they were where I was told they were.

At this point I figured I would pay more and go elsewhere. The saving was NOT WORTH the irritation. It was at that point that I drove past the shop – AGAIN, but this time with the attendant standing outside waving!

While inside I asked why they didn’t have signs up and was informed that they had been ordered and were ‘on their way’. (They were up two days later).

When I gave it some thought, this move had to have been planned weeks before I went there – I received the initial sms 10 days before my excursion. So WHY were there no signs up? Surely it should have been on top of the marketing persons list. Did they ever calculate the cost of NO SIGNS? How many people would felt just what I did, never to return as they are certainly not the cheapest supplier and are also not the only supplier within easy access. A simple banner (if the signs were running late) could have made a huge difference.

So YES. Signs are an important . As long as YOU EXPECT and / or WANT people to VISIT YOUR PREMISES, you would be well advised to make sure that VISIBLE SIGNS form part of your marketing mix!

If you are in the market for professional looking signs, or would like marketing advice, including on how best to project your business’s image, please contact the writer at arnold@signforce.co.za and use the subject line: ADVICE PLEASE and we will get back to you ASAP.  For more information visit http://www.signforce.co.za