5 Reasons Why Signs Work For Your Small Business

business signs

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.

5 Reasons Why Signs Work For Your Small 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.

LocationBusiness signs serve as guideposts for brick-and-mortar businesses, directing customers to their physical location and catching the attention of potential new customers.
Brand PromiseA well-maintained and visually appealing sign conveys the brand's promise, high standards, and differentiation. Damaged or unclear signs can fail to represent the brand effectively.
Special OccasionsLeveraging signage during special events and community gatherings, like parades or festivals, can create awareness and attract event attendees to your business.
CompetitionStrategic signage in high-traffic areas and locations with competition can divert overflow traffic from other businesses, leading to impromptu decisions to use your services.
Online-Offline ConnectionBusiness signs bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds by promoting online presence through website URLs and QR codes, enhancing accessibility for potential customers.

5 Reasons Why Signs Work For Your Small Business

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Advertising and Marketing

While implementing various advertising and marketing strategies is essential, it’s equally crucial to measure their effectiveness. Without data-driven insights, it’s challenging to determine which strategies are delivering the best results and where adjustments are needed. Here’s a section that explores the importance of measuring the impact of your efforts:

Understanding ROI and Key Metrics

As you navigate the intricate landscape of advertising and marketing, tracking the return on investment (ROI) and key performance indicators (KPIs) becomes paramount. These metrics provide a clear picture of how well your strategies are performing and whether they align with your business goals. Here’s why measuring effectiveness is crucial:

  1. ROI Assessment: Every advertising and marketing dollar spent should contribute to your bottom line. By tracking ROI, you can determine which channels and campaigns provide the highest returns. This information empowers you to allocate your budget more effectively, channeling resources into strategies that generate revenue.
  2. Conversion Rates: Understanding conversion rates is vital to gauge the success of your marketing campaigns. Whether it’s website visitors becoming customers, social media followers engaging with your content, or email subscribers making purchases, tracking conversions helps identify what’s working and what needs optimization.
  3. Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC): Knowing how much it costs to acquire a new customer is crucial for sustainable growth. Compare your CAC to the lifetime value of a customer to ensure your marketing efforts are cost-effective. If CAC is too high, consider refining your strategies or targeting a different audience.
  4. Click-Through Rates (CTR): CTR is a valuable metric for online advertising and email campaigns. It indicates the effectiveness of your ad copy, email subject lines, and calls to action. A high CTR suggests that your messaging resonates with your audience.
  5. Engagement Metrics: On social media and content marketing platforms, engagement metrics like likes, shares, comments, and time spent on a page reveal how well your content connects with your audience. Engaging content often leads to increased brand awareness and customer loyalty.
  6. Customer Feedback: Don’t underestimate the power of customer feedback. Reviews, surveys, and direct feedback provide insights into customer satisfaction and areas for improvement. Listening to your audience can guide your marketing efforts in the right direction.
  7. A/B Testing: Experimentation through A/B testing allows you to compare different marketing approaches and determine which one yields better results. This iterative process can help refine your strategies over time.
  8. Google Analytics and Marketing Tools: Utilize analytics tools and marketing platforms to gather valuable data on website traffic, audience demographics, and user behavior. These insights can inform content creation, ad targeting, and website optimization.

5 Reasons Why Signs Work For Your Small Business

The Continuous Improvement Loop

Measuring effectiveness isn’t a one-time task; it’s an ongoing process. Regularly review your data, analyze trends, and adjust your strategies accordingly. This continuous improvement loop ensures that your advertising and marketing efforts remain aligned with your business objectives and adapt to changing consumer behaviors.

In the dynamic world of advertising and marketing, success hinges on your ability to evolve, refine, and optimize your strategies based on measurable outcomes. By tracking ROI and key metrics, you’ll not only maximize the impact of your efforts but also stay ahead in the competitive landscape. Remember, what gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed gets results.

Key MetricsDescription
ROI AssessmentEvaluating the return on investment (ROI) is essential to understand the financial impact of your advertising and marketing efforts. It helps identify which strategies are most cost-effective and contribute positively to your bottom line.
Conversion RatesTracking conversion rates reveals how successful your marketing campaigns are in turning prospects into customers. It can be measured across various touchpoints, such as website visits, social media interactions, or email sign-ups.
Customer Acquisition CostsCalculating the cost of acquiring a new customer (CAC) helps assess the efficiency of your marketing efforts. Comparing CAC to the lifetime value of a customer ensures that your acquisition strategies are sustainable and profitable.
Click-Through Rates (CTR)CTR is a crucial metric for digital marketing campaigns, indicating the effectiveness of your ad copy and calls to action. A higher CTR suggests that your messaging resonates with the target audience, driving more clicks and engagement.
Engagement MetricsOn social media and content platforms, engagement metrics like likes, shares, comments, and time spent on a page reflect the level of audience interaction. Engaging content often leads to increased brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Customer FeedbackCustomer feedback, obtained through reviews, surveys, and direct communication, offers valuable insights into satisfaction levels and areas for improvement. Listening to your audience helps refine your marketing strategies and meet customer expectations.
A/B TestingA/B testing involves comparing two variations of a marketing element to determine which performs better. This iterative process helps optimize messaging, design, and other aspects of your campaigns based on data-driven results.
Google Analytics and ToolsUtilizing analytics tools and marketing platforms provides detailed data on website traffic, audience demographics, and user behavior. These insights inform content creation, ad targeting, and website optimization, enhancing overall effectiveness.

The Psychology Behind Effective Advertising and Marketing

Understanding the psychology of consumers is paramount when it comes to crafting successful advertising and marketing campaigns. While strategies and channels are essential, the human element plays a central role in influencing buying decisions. This section delves into the psychology behind effective advertising and marketing:

Appealing to Emotions

  1. Emotional Storytelling: Humans are inherently emotional beings. Effective advertising often taps into these emotions, telling compelling stories that resonate with the audience’s feelings and experiences. Whether it’s a heartwarming narrative or an inspirational journey, stories evoke empathy and connection.
  2. Emotionally Charged Imagery: Visual elements, such as images and videos, have a powerful impact on emotions. Choosing imagery that aligns with the emotional tone of your message can evoke the desired feelings in your audience. For example, images of happiness and joy can be used for products associated with positive experiences.

Building Trust and Credibility

  1. Social Proof: People tend to trust the opinions and actions of others. Incorporating social proof, such as customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials, can build trust in your brand and products. Consumers are more likely to engage with businesses that have a proven track record.
  2. Authority and Expertise: Establishing your brand as an authority or expert in your industry can instill confidence in potential customers. Share your knowledge through content marketing, blog posts, and informative videos to position yourself as a trusted source of information.

The Power of Persuasion

  1. Scarcity and Urgency: The fear of missing out is a potent motivator. Creating a sense of scarcity or urgency in your marketing messages, such as limited-time offers or low-stock alerts, can drive action as consumers seek to seize opportunities before they disappear.
  2. Reciprocity: People are inclined to reciprocate when they receive something of value. Offer free resources, downloadable guides, or valuable content in exchange for email sign-ups or engagement. This reciprocity fosters a sense of obligation, leading to future interactions.

Understanding Cognitive Biases

  1. Anchoring: The human brain often relies on the first piece of information encountered when making decisions. Use anchoring to your advantage by presenting higher-priced options first, making subsequent choices seem more reasonable.
  2. Confirmation Bias: Consumers tend to seek information that confirms their existing beliefs. Tailor your messaging to align with your target audience’s values and preferences, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

Personalization and Relevance

  1. Personalized Experiences: Leverage data to create personalized experiences for your audience. Tailor product recommendations, email content, and advertisements based on individual preferences and behaviors, enhancing relevance and engagement.
  2. Segmentation: Divide your audience into segments based on demographics, interests, and behavior. This allows for targeted messaging that speaks directly to the unique needs and desires of each group.

By understanding the psychological drivers that influence consumer behavior, you can create advertising and marketing campaigns that resonate on a deeper level. Effective marketing isn’t just about showcasing products or services; it’s about connecting with people on an emotional and psychological level, ultimately driving them to take action. Whether you’re aiming to inspire, build trust, or persuade, psychology plays a pivotal role in shaping successful marketing strategies.

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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.

55 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.

    • Hey Robert, a sign placed outside your business will be seen by every driver/passenger that drives by as well as any foot traffic that walks by. You can go to the dept of transportation and get a feel for how much traffic passes by your store. Price out your sign and divide by that number and it gives you the cost per impression of your advertising sign. If you know how much business you had prior to erecting your sign then you will have a great idea of how well your sign is advertising for you. Your sign could be an architectural sign or monument sign or it could be a banner or yard sign. Depending on your business, each one has it’s uses but they are all great for increasing the bottom line of any business. But you have to consider all the options and what’s best for your business.

      I agree with your statement if you’re a restaurant off the freeway and you put up a billboard to let people know if they’re hungry to get off at the next exit. I’m not sure for what other scenario putting your sign far away from your location would work. What sort of business did you have in mind when you made your reply?
      great discussion!

  2. 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.

    • 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.


    • I was a sign maker for 5 years, you’d be surprised how many small business owners pay as little as possible to get a sign made, also not having their own logo. You can judge a book by it’s cover in this case, if a business sign looks small time, then it’s expected the product is as well. But then there are those outliers which break the test of time and just have great food in a dirty or bad location but people come from all around to stand in line.

  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®

    • 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?

  20. I like how you point out that maintaining a neat and attractive sign helps deliver on the brand promise. I can see why having an appealing sign would be important to a business owner to get more customers. My cousin is thinking of opening up her own restaurant. She might consider using signs to reach more people.

  21. I never thought about the ability of a business sign to help consumers connect to online sources or advertising; that’s a great idea! I know that nowadays, a lot of people are playing Pokemon GO, so I could see a huge benefit in talking about that online game with their sign. It shows people you’re an upbeat business that follows trends as well, which can help your reputation.

  22. The fact of the matter is that these signs work. These signs not only get noticed by pedestrians, but drivers passing by. I think this may be because drivers are paying attention to the road. The focus of their attention is on keeping the car where it needs to be. Just a small thing like bringing a sign closer to their frame of vision can bring your business attention.

  23. I appreciate the information on signs and why they work for your business. I agree that signs can really help brand a company and really help to get their name and image out there where people would not have been able to see them otherwise. If I remember right, it takes 7 times of seeing something for someone to really remember it. I know signs really help me to do that for businesses and their names.

  24. That’s a good tip that location is a great asset of physical signs. If you put a sign where people are more likely to see them, that can help your business. If I start a business I’d consider physical signs as part of my advertising.

  25. Zachary Tomlinson

    I like that you pointed out that adding your website, or, might I add, your QR code, to a sign really increases traffic to your website and increases you publicity even more. I think that it is important to realize that you don’t need to spend a ton of time and money on signage. It doesn’t need to be perfect; it will work either way.

  26. I like what you said about how a sign should always be neat and bright and should convey the promise of your brand. I’ve heard that sign architects always consider the question: how can I catch the attention of a passerby with just one glance? That’s quite the task! I’ll have to keep this information in mind if I ever am assigned to design and make a sign for a business!

  27. Adding a QR code to a sign is a great idea. I was walking down the street the other day, and I walked right by a sign the shop owner had put out. I was curious at what that shop had to offer, but there was no way to get that information. I could’ve really used a QR code.

  28. I had never considered that a sign could be used as a guidepost. After reading a little bit, it makes sense why this could be a way to inform the public about what you are offering and if any deals are happening. I often see signs when I am walking through outdoor malls. I’ll have to pay closer attention of what they say.

  29. Thanks! Good signage can help your business in a number of different ways. Signs provide continuous advertising for your business, and will work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  30. I like how the article compares a business sign to a brand promise. I’ve read in an article somewhere that people report making up to 25% of impulse decisions on where to shop based off a good sign. I know if I had my own business, I’d want to make sure my sign is attractive and well-set. And if it were ever damaged or broken, I’d want my sign repaired as soon as possible.

  31. In your article, you stated that 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 and if you are a new business, people driving by will be attracted to stop in and try your business. My wife and I were on a date and we saw a really funny sign that was attracting a lot of people. I wonder if there are certain sign designs that might be better for certain types of business.

  32. That’s a clever idea to add a QR code to a sign. That way people can learn about your business online when they have time. Signs also help businesses look more legit.

  33. Wow it’s interesting how much a sign can influence your business. Unfortunately.. many small business owners worried about their online business presence nowadays, many forget about or ignore their business’s physical presence. This article does a great job of pointing out just how important signage can be to the success of a business. Thanks so much for sharing!

  34. I appreciate that you mentioned that signage is important for big traffic areas. After all, it could be a great way to utilize that area for advertisement, especially if it’s prone to slow traffic. Having a monumental sign that stands out could really stand out to a driver as they are waiting to move.

  35. Yeah its a real fact that the signage design is a big influential in attracting or repelling customers, Make sure it is designed to attract, not just a fancy design signage.

  36. Making the connection to the visual aspect of your brand is very important. We think in images and image recognition comes far faster than language recall. So, make sure your offline and online branding match. Also, use your sign to advertise events that are coming soon. Even though someone may find your sign online or walk/drive by your site they may not have need for your service immediately. But, if they recognize your logo when they do have need, you have a better chance of them finding you. Since you really can’t search by an image, remember to always place your logo in a searchable form prominently on your sign. If your logo is a well known image, with no searchable text, use a QR code so customers can find you online.

  37. I like that you mention that a sign should be in good shape to better convey your business brand. It’s very important that a business takes the time to improve their visual branding. The better they look, the most likely that customers are going to want their products or services. It’s good to find a company that can provide you with the right signage to really make your business stand out.

  38. I like your tip to put your URL on any shop front sign you have so that people can connect with you online. The store I work at has been thinking about putting in a sign on their shop front, so they are wondering what they should put on it. I will be sure to tell my boss to put our URL on the banner so that people can look at our website too.

  39. I liked what you said about how a good business sign really helps when the business is celebrating a special occasion. My cousin is looking to gain some new business to his small store, so he’s considering his advertising options. Thank you for the information about how he could put signs outside the shop or advertise with local events and community gatherings like parades to create awareness of his business.

  40. I agree that business signs should always be neat and bright to attract the customer’s attention. It should also include your branding message. Basing from experience, I think this is more compelling in terms of enticing customers to try your products. In the event that I get to put up my own business, I need to make sure that the brand is promising by setting up clear business signage in front of it.

  41. If I had a business, I’d have some signs. They would let customers know where your business is. Plus, they are a cheaper way to draw them in.

  42. I never took into account that installing an outdoor lighted sign in your business can be interesting for people that are curious about knowing your products or services but don’t have time when they see it. My boss is always looking for ways to attract more customers. It would be a great idea to tell him about the advantage of having a sign outside the store.

  43. Thanks for helping me understand why business signs are an effective form of marketing for the company. I like what you said that a signage must appear presentable to potential customers, especially if the business plans to place it outside their shop. You noted that through a good signage, branding management of the company is conveyed. Since my boss is looking for ways on how to increase sales, I hope we can find a firm that offers custom signs.

  44. It made sense when you said that people who have just moved to the area will want to find small businesses they can support there. My sister just opened a small art store in an area with a moderate amount of traffic. I’ll have to let her know why investing in an exterior sign for the business would be worth the cost!

  45. I can understand how a business could really benefit from getting the right signs to increase customers’ awareness. Getting some help from a professional to illuminate the signs in the dark can help them be more effective. It was interesting to learn about how the sign shouldn’t be damaged or smudged to help them have higher standards.

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