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  • Signs: The First Step in Marketing

    When you see a Burger King sign, what comes to mind? "Have it your way" or maybe a "Whopper." Burger King has great brand recognition.

    Of course, the Burger King folks have poured millions of dollars into advertising over the years to get that kind of recognition. You can't do exactly that, but you still can create a sign that conveys a message.

    Some signs, like "Joe's Bar-B-Q," reveal exactly what you can expect from the business. A guy named Joe is cooking barbeque. Simple and straightforward. You know exactly what is going on.

    Other signs have nothing to do with what is happening inside. Take Kinko's, for example. What does that name mean? It has nothing to do with the business — it's actually a nickname of the founder. But with enough advertising, Kinko's has been able to turn its name into something synonymous with copies.

    Generally, when you have a low budget, you want your sign to be obvious. Since you don't have millions of dollars to explain your name or message, don't make potential customers guess at what you are doing.

    Where to Start

    Most florists will never be large enough or have enough money to create as strong an image as the big boys. However, with appropriate planning and effort, almost any business can create a memorable image.

    Begin by determining what image you want to convey. High class. Friendly. Personal. Quaint. Big. Small. What best describes who you are and what you want to become?

    Next, incorporate this image into a logo. A logo can be anything from the name of your shop to a fancy graphic.

    For example, your logo could simply say, "Sally's Flowers-Your Community Flower Shop." That conveys a friendly, personal image.

    Here's a word of warning, however. Don't get carried away with your logo. It's nice to have a good logo design, but a clean, crisp name and slogan is more important.

    Everyone has a different opinion on logos. So spend a little time on yours, but don't lose the bigger focus of conveying a clear message to your customers. How will the logo look in black and white? Will it still be readable when sized for small applications-like business cards and stationery?

    Next Is Consistency

    Consistency is the foundation of image. You must reinforce your message over and over through a variety of contacts with your customers.

    Keep it clear and simple. Don't confuse your customer with multiple messages or images. Settle on one and drive it home.

    This means that every printed item in the shop should have your logo and carry your image. Enclosure cards and envelopes; sales tickets; invoices or statements; mailing envelopes; return envelopes; statement stuffers; calendars; advertisements or flyers; labels; business cards; and any other items you might give to customers.

    It's an idea that works. Look at McDonald's. Their golden arches appear on just about everything associated with the chain.

    If your business is large enough, you might even want to have wrapping paper, plastic wrap, tissue paper, and delivery boxes imprinted with your logo. When these items are purchased in sufficient quantity, the prices can be very reasonable. This is called "branding" your product, and it works to build your business.

    Your signage and logo certainly need to be visible on delivery vehicles — often the only contact someone has with the business.

    In-Store Signage

    Your in-store signage should follow the same rules as other forms of customer contact. Whether it is a price tag or a sign describing a particular product or sale, each one should carry your logo to reinforce your image.

    What size signs do you use inside your shop? Settle on a couple of different sizes, and then print a large quantity with your logo and an attractive design, such as a border. The template signs will be ready to use whenever you need them. Just add the pertinent information to announce a special, a new product arrival, or simply an item's price.

    Your Point of Contact

    Your first and most frequent point of contact with current and prospective customers is your signage. Be consistent. Use your logo as often as possible on every printed communication.

    But remember that your image is more than a logo and a sign or two. It is the atmosphere that is conveyed in your shop. It's the buying process itself. Your customers come away from your shop with a "feel" for your operation.

    That "feel" is your image at the emotional level. Make sure the buying experience is easy and positive. Give customers as much information as possible with a generous use of signs all around your shop.

    SIDEBAR: The Most Important Things About Signs

    The type and number of signs in your shop have a definite impact on your image. Your shop can be customer friendly, or you can make things very difficult for the customer. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for someone to buy a product in your shop.

    Take a look around. How easy is it for a customer to buy something in your shop?

    What's the Price?

    The first thing customers want to know is "How much does it cost?" The easier you make it for them to get an answer to that question, the happier they will be.

    Anytime people don't see a price clearly stated, they assume it must be high. They may think that you're trying to get them hooked on the item before you reveal the price. That's not how you want to handle your customers.

    Unfortunately, many florists make it very uncomfortable for their customers. Nothing in the cooler has a price tag on it. To learn the cost of a particular item, customers have to find someone to ask.

    Many customers will leave rather than inquire. If the item is more expensive than they can afford, they are afraid they will look cheap when they have to turn it down.

    Everything for sale in your shop should have the price clearly marked. The easier you make it for customers to shop and compare products and prices, the more you will sell.

    Sign Up for Signs

    After you make the bigger signage decisions — logo and outdoor sign — make sure you devote an equal amount of time to your pricing signage.

    The best strategy is to put your logo on each pricing sign to reinforce your image. Each sign should be large enough to be easily seen with the price boldly displayed.

    Some florists use cards that can be thrown away in the event the card is damaged or the price changes. Others laminate the cards and use an erasable marker.

    What about a flower price board? It's better than nothing but not nearly as helpful as individual pricing. Customers have to know the name of the flower they want to use the board. Why put people in such a potentially awkward position?

    Each bucket should be clearly marked with a sign that includes the name and price of the product. Some shops use bucket clips-or clothespins with cards attached to identify flowers and prices. Each arrangement should also have its own pricing tag. Whenever possible, include care information on the tag. The price can go on a removable sticker or a perforated section of the card. Of course, you can also use separate care and handling tags.


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