Help Your Customers Design Better Vinyl Banners
Trend-hoppers have led the average start-up entrepreneur to believe time-tested marketing methods will not work in today’s world. The idea that everything has to be digitized, online or on social media can hurt — rather than help — today’s business owner.
The truth is that savvy operators are still making major gains in retail markets using these same, so-called outdated media — namely the humble vinyl banner. The popularity of IRL graphic prints is alive and well. Whenever a store unveils a new product or service, it is the right time to strategize on how to keep customers coming back.
Everyone who has worked in retail already knows what the experts are saying: the long-term health of any business requires the win-win scenario. The quick buck always loses to the client-pleasing, under-promising, over-delivering, stickler of an entrepreneur. The major factor in any commercial graphics business’s success is not just to make betters signs, but teaching customers how to design better signs.
As most industry experts agree, the workhorse of the retail sign industry is the large-format vinyl banner. Everyone knows that vinyl banners make good business sense, even if they don’t want to admit it. When you enter the location of a successful chain, you will be greeted not by easy to ignore online pop-up ads but by vinyl banners, as well as other types of traditional signs.
Vinyl banners are great because they:
- Grab attention with their eye-catching graphics.
- Increase profits through increased in-store foot traffic and customer retention.
- Begin the conversation about why a business should be the customer’s top choice.
Here at Signs NYC, we have spent more than three decades doing business as a humble local sign company in the trend-setting capital of the world. While there are always new forms of media and other high-tech marketing gimmicks, our average client understands that the sandwich board, sticker, and vinyl banner are the “meat and potatoes” that drive new business.
We rarely used to sell people on the idea of a banner vs. digital media. However, we have increasingly had to educate customers — particularly the younger demographic — on the relatively inexpensive and highly effective strategy of relying more heavily on banners than online ads. Normally, we just point out a competitor and what they are doing, along with their level of success. It also helps that IRL ads such as vinyl banners are more fun. They can be touched and repositioned, packed up and taken on the road, and used to protect merchandise from a sudden rainstorm (this actually happened to one of our clients).
Long story short, the best way to sell banners isn’t by selling the idea of them — it’s by showing your customers how to build a better one.
Five Design Tips to Help Your Customers Design Better Banners
1. Remember why banners are used. When trying to educate your clientele, point out the uses of a banner, beginning with its most basic raison d'être (pro tip: don’t speak French to your clients unless they speak French). A banner in its most basic form is used to promote a business. You need to drive this point home. A banner is a tool to draw in more attention, whereas many online and mass media ads are essentially easy-to-ignore noise. It is much easier to design an effective banner that people will remember than it is to produce a catchy and entertaining TV spot.
2. Make your banner stand out with color (or lack thereof). Most people are familiar with color psychology. You need to allow the proven methods of evoking feelings through a color scheme apparent to the client. Industry-specific hues — such as red for food and green for financial institutions — will come in handy, along with a browse through your own photo gallery or portfolio in order to show examples of successful businesses using the best colors for each occasion. Some banners will even require monochrome, such as grays, or simply a classic black-and-white motif. When in doubt, simply point out existing brand colors to prove your point.
3. Higher quality images are king. While the average person is increasingly savvy about Photoshop and different types of image files, we still get way too many raster files in our inbox. It is particularly important in large-format printing to point out the use of vector files. Simply explain that vector files are a series of straight lines, curved lines, geographical shapes, and points based on mathematical equations. This will bore them, we know. The key is to then explain how vector image files won’t become distorted or pixelated as you enlarge an image for a wide-format display banner. You can also offer to attempt to convert — or simply re-design — any raster files clients submit.
4. Sign distance and fonts for readability. Obviously, every sign needs to be read. Popular typefaces such as a sans serif “block letter” Arial, or a more readable “serifed” or a readable tailed letter such as Times New Roman, should be used as examples of how to design an easy-to-read sign for the public.
The following list — based on ones we currently use, both in-person and during online correspondence with our customers — of sign distances is one of the best ways to explain how the letters need to be:
- 100 feet = 4-inch text
- 250 feet = 10-inch text
- 360 feet (city block) = 16-inch text
- 500 feet = 22-inch text
- 750 feet = 33-inch text
- 1,000 feet = 43-inch text
- 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) = 57-inch text
5. Quality materials. We start with only the highest quality vinyl from recognizable, industry-standard manufacturers such as Avery Dennison, 3M, and Oracal. But that’s obvious to anyone who has Googled “best vinyl for banners.” That’s why we make it a point to emphasize the different types of banner weights — usually between 9 ounces and 22 ounces — in addition to finishes and other accessories.
We’ll also touch on single versus double-sided banner. This will allow us the gauge the client’s needs. Some want an over-head installation — while others seek a single-sided for hanging flat against a surface, such as a wall.
A matte finish is the preferred choice for indoor and artificially-lit signage; it is so popular, many graphics printing companies no longer offer glossy as a choice. This is why we also offer glossy finish for use under certain conditions, such as low light or natural sunlight found on outdoor banners.
Our accessories, such as nickel-plated grommet holes, portable banner stands, zip ties, nylon hanging rope and Velcro, are usually discussed as the result of “buying questions." If you start talking accessories, then you are usually closing the deal.
The process of teaching your customers to collaborate with you to create superior marketing products allows for the all-important “win-win” scenario. Remember, you’re the expert. Only you can guide your clients to make the right decisions for themselves. However, once they do, they will thank you in the best way possible, with repeat business.
Related story: Vinyl Banners and Signs Grow in Marketing Popularity
Arthur Stephens lives to write about all types of commercial graphics printing, from traditional store signage and neon to modern LED technology and vehicle wraps. He has been awarded numerous grants to study the emergence of the modern consumer marketing model from the perspective of local and regional business advertising.