October 26, 2016

5 Reasons Why Signs Work For Your Small Business

business sign

In a square mile radius in Germantown, Maryland are about 6 Asian grocery stores. Yet I visited the one store whose location was way off the main road and was difficult to find. I saw a sign for the business in another Asian grocery store and knew that they stocked goat meat, which is a delicacy for meat eaters from the Indian sub-continent.

I can’t tell you how many countless times I have used a new business based on their business signs. Business signs work – and here’s why.

5 Reasons Why Business Signs Work


For a brick and mortar small business your sign is important as it acts like a  guidepost to guide customers to your place of business and attract the attention of new customers. If you are a new business, people driving by will be attracted to stop in and try your business. People moving to the area look for local businesses that they can start visiting.

Brand Promise

A sign should always be neat and bright and should convey the promise of your brand, convey the high standards of your business, your differentiation. A sign board that is damaged or smudged may fail to convey your brand.

business signs

Special Occasions

In the photo above, SXSW is a large event in downtown Austin and this small business is attracting event attendees walking by. Find local events and community gatherings like parades to create awareness for your business


When Groupon rented ad space outside Living Social’s offices in downtown Washington, D.C. it created some buzz. You see these signs often on highways advertising restaurants or gas stations just a few miles ahead of an exit ramp. Signage is important in a high traffic location as overflow traffic from other places can find your business and make an impromptu decision to use your business.

Online-Offline Connection

Take a look at the picture at the very top of this post from an Irish pub in the Cleveland Park area of Washington, D.C. that advertises their Facebook page.

Adding your website url to your sign is a good idea for people who don’t have time to stop and can check you out later. Adding a QR code is a good idea if your sign can be scanned easily.

In photos of your business on your website, it may be a good idea to include pictures of your businesses physical location, signage and neighborhood. So that when people visit, they are already familiar with how the business and surroundings look.

More and more people are finding your business online, but that is only half the story. If you have a great location, you can also appeal to new people who are walking past your business every day.

Do you have a success story about using signs for your business?

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Shashi Bellamkonda

Shashi Bellamkonda Shashi Bellamkonda is CMO of Surefire Social, AKA "Social Media Swami" at SurefireSocial. Visit Shashi Bellamkonda's blog. He is also an adjunct faculty at Georgetown University. Shashi is a regular contributor to the Washington Business Journal, DC Examiner and other tech blogs like Smallbiztechnology and Techcocktail. Shashi has been in the list of Top 100 Small Business Influencer Champions list for 2011 and 2012.

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26 Reactions

  1. The whole premise of advertising is to reach the right people. If there is a location where you know your customers are, then a sign can very effectively reach them.

  2. Shashi Bellamkonda

    Very well said Robert. Thanks.

  3. Signs are particularly useful for impulse purchases. Restaurants and bars fall into this group, particularly those that are in a popular entertainment/recreation neighborhood. Often people plan in advance where they’ll go to eat or to party. But often they will just head down to a popular neighborhood and wing it. The signs help lure them in.

    • Shashi Bellamkonda

      I can tell you of the times I have chosen a business because of their sign, an impulse purchase. I remember a time I searched for thai food on Google maps and of course got confused with the directions but the sign was useful to point me there.


  4. Great ideas, Shashi.

    Adding your website url to business signage is a definite plus.

    I have a rolling sign for my business; I had a small sign made for my vehicle that’s magnetized…with my url on it.

    The Franchise King®

    • Shashi Bellamkonda

      Having a url on your car is a great idea. Keeps the business in memory and in the olden days we had the 800 number now having a memorable url is good.

      • If you put any form of advertising on your personal vehicle for your business, even just a website, be sure to inquire with you insurance company. Insurance companies usually increase your rates if you use your car as a billboard for commercial purposes. If you fail to inform them, you may have problems later in the case of claim.

  5. Shashi – Useful tips. A sign is a first contact of potential customer with your business. Even in these days of everything digital, physical signs still play a very important role in getting attention of potential customers and converting them to regulars. Like your idea about including additional information on the signs.

  6. An absolutely fantastic article! As somebody who works in a High Wycombe based signage company, I’ve had thousands of small businesses benefit, and while modern signage such as screens etc. can be generate a fantastic ROI traditional and affordable signage can work wonders.

  7. Very good points and traditional signs have most certainly proved themselves, and still do!

  8. I agree that there has to be an online-offline connection. If the website and signage don’t match up, it makes it confusing for a potential customer. Hopefully, by having a coordinated effort, a company can get its message across to all its customers.

  9. I like the idea of a lunch sign outside of a local shop to advertise the weekly specials. I didn’t realize it, but I feel like advertising in that way makes it feel a lot more personalized. A friend of mine works at a local pizza joint. I’ll have to offer that as an idea for business. Thanks!

  10. I thought that you made a good point about how business signs can be useful by attracting walk in clients for special occasions. It seems like walking past a sign would attract people’s attention. The SXSW sign seems like a good example of how this can work by attracting event attendees that were walking by informing them of their event by listing their specials. It seems like similar businesses would benefit by doing the same thing.

  11. Thanks for the post. I really like the idea to have a sign posted out front of our business. It definitely creates a visual for customers walking by or driving by. I think it also great for promotional that our business is having.

  12. I really liked how you explained, “A sign should always be neat and bright and should convey they promise of your brand…” I like the idea of a business sign conveying a message to customers. I’ve been taking marketing classes this semester, so these kind of ideas has been really interesting to me lately. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I really like the whole article on all the different way you can use physical signs to promote your business. You make a good point to put your website or QR code on them for the people who may not have time to check back soon. If I ever start my own business I’ll have to keep that in mind!

  14. I am one to always get distracted when I see a sign with a lot of color. I will most likely go and eat somewhere new long as the place looks appeal. The first thing I look at is the sign. So i have to agree the colors are the most important part.

  15. I like the idea of the sign acting as a guidepost for your physical location. I worked at an underground restaurant for a few years and the only way people could find us on their own was by finding the sign by the stairs. If you live in a tucked away place you may need a sign to direct people or your business could suffer. Great tips!

  16. Some great points mentioned here! Signage is a powerful tool for drawing in consumers. Strong, clear and creative signs reflects the qualities needed to produce a visually pleasing and eye catching display.

  17. Business signs do work, both outside of a store, and on the windows (window clings). Another good idea would be to create a banner sign or two and place them in prominent areas near your business. Especially if your business is tucked away in a shopping mall corner, a good colorful banner sign or two out in the parking lot would help to make your presence known.

  18. Great article! I have seen my own benefits from placing a business sign. If I were to add onto this article, I would also mention that you know your audience is a local and can stop by and visit your store, as opposed to a guy on the internet.

  19. These are great points as to why you would need a sign if you are a small business owner. After all, you want to be sure that your company is known to the world. Further, you want people to be familiar with what your company does. One of the best ways to be sure that people will know who you are and what you stand for is by having a great sign. Do you have any pieces of advice when it comes to writing a good sign?

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