If you’re trying to figure out how much of your business’ budget should go into signage, just look at some statistics:

  • Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of consumers surveyed say they have purchased a product or service because a sign caught their eye.  *FedEx Office survey finds effective signage critical to store sales, May 14, 2012
  • The average business gets up to 50% of their sales from signage, 85% from within 5 miles. *Small Business Association, September 2007
  • More than two-thirds of consumers (68%) believe that a store’s signage is reflective of the quality of its products and services *FedEx Office survey finds effective signage critical to store sales, May 14, 2012

Properly made and well-maintained business signs reduce the need for other forms of advertising, according to the Small Business Association. If you’re watching your budget, retail signs are the least expensive, yet most effective form of advertising.  In short, signs create a powerful first impression. So it is crucial that your signage is right. Here are a few pointers on making signage:

  1. Keep it simple: Don’t bombard your sign with highlights, stars, very small letters, exclamations points, and everything but the kitchen sink. Your sign should be readable from a distance. A good rule of thumb is to use a 36 point or larger font size as this can be read from 2-3 metres away. Pro-tip: Go easy on artistic or cursive fonts as they are hard to read.
  2. Edit: When you write your copy, make sure that it is 100% free of grammatical errors. Always spell-check, and spell-check again. Your signage is part of your brand promise. Pro-tip: You have approximately a 6-second window to grab a consumer’s attention. Whatever customers see in that 6 sec window has to be perfect. Otherwise, customers might think that carelessness translates to how you conduct business.
  3. Include pertinent information: For plant signs, don’t just put “flowering annual” or “foliage plant.” That doesn’t help the casual gardener. Include information in common terms and aim to inform your customer. But refer to rule 1 and keep things simple – a common name, the scientific name, and suggestions for the plant’s use is more than enough. And the price, of course!
  4. Create an enjoyable retail experience: Customers should have no problems navigating your store from the entrance to exit. Your signs should be well planned and laid out across the store. The should be easily seen and at equal heights and distances. They should be easy on the eye – which means keeping the designs, styles and colors matching your shop’s theme and brand. Pro-tip: avoid lots of different signage styles that simply create visual noise and distract from the overall experience of the store.
  5. Location, location, location: Use signage to guide customers to areas of the store that are designed to meet their interests.  A sign that says “Anne’s Greenhouse” could direct shoppers to speciality plants and supplies… especially if you have a safer named Anne on hand to answer questions at that location. Use creative signage to direct people to the areas that they most interested in, then ensure that the on location signage informs and tempts them. So make sure your sign is visible to anyone from any direction within a 7m radius. Pro-tip: use a min of 160 font size for directional signage.

Given the above rules, keep in mind that there are different kinds of signs you can deploy:

  • Branding and Naming signage: the main signage seen at the entrance of your nursery.
  • Street signage: an A-frame, a banner, or a poster that lets customers know where to find you and what they expect to find inside.
  • Location or store category signage:  breaks your nursery into zones to help customers find what they’re looking for.
  • Point of Sale signage: often called the silent sales assistants, they provide on the spot information.
  • Theme or Concept Display signage: creative signs that add drama and style.
  • Table Wrap and Shelf signage: provides a call to action or additional information.
  • Value signage: short, intense promotions that let your customers know product prices and can attract customers to discounted products and items on sale.
  • Customer Service signage: value added signs to make your customers feel welcome.
  • Directional signage: guides your customers to the location of your facilities.
  • General signage: signs that are normally commonplace like entrance and exits signs, reception, disabled parking, service desk, etc.
  • WHS signage: Mandated by law, WHS signage must be current, meet the needs of the workplace, be clearly visible and in good condition.
  • Transport signage: for your transport vehicles and other service vechicles.
  • Special Purpose signage: From time to time nurseries need signage for special purposes such as biosecurity and water use.

You can make your own signs with software that is commonly available. There are a lot of tools you can use to make attractive signage. You can use: Photoshop and InDesign (expensive but very powerful general design tools from Adobe); GIMP, an open source (free!) image editor. You can even create signs using the old faithful, Microsoft Word or Publisher, though the results are far from professional.  The challenge with all of these applications is that they assume you have a lot of artistic and marketing knowledge.  It is definitely worthwhile hiring a professional designer – or in our case, a daughter who works on mates rates – to design your signs as a set of templates you can modify later.  And, running the risk of touting my own products, you can invest in dedicated signage software that comes with pre-made nursery signage templates, such as TyTags DIY Retailer.  Yes, I wrote that software for my parent’s business. And yes, my daughter did the templates the the award-winning SignDesign book that goes with the software.  But even without dedicated software, you can make a big difference to your sales by creating consistent and powerful signage for your store.