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Conducting A Sign Audit

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Conducting A Sign Audit(GIFTBEAT)

Want to make sure you're taking the best possible advantage of the power of signage? Rick Segel, retail expert, author and president of Florida-based Segel & Associates, discusses the ins and outs of "sign audits" - a powerful retailing tool that can increase business, create happier customers and save money on inventory.

"Most retailers have never taken a look at their stores to see exactly where they stand with their signs," says Rick Segel. On a quarterly basis, Segel suggests store owners conduct a "sign audit" to determine how many signs they have, the types of signs in their stores, and the messages those signs send customers.

"Sign audits [also help] see what signage has worked in the past and what hasn't," Segel says. When possible, use store statistics to verify a sign's effectiveness—such as whether a particular sign actually increased sales of a featured item.

So, is there such a thing as having too many store signs? Yes and no, Segel says. "If you put up 50 signs that look good, they'll work. That additional quantity of signs creates a feeling of excitement within the store." However, he cautions: "Don’t go off on a tangent with a certain type of sign. For example, you might overload on signs that are entertaining and do too many of them. Use moderation."

Here, Segel offers additional tips on store signs:

• Check to see if all store signs have a common theme. For example, themes can be seasonal [such as featuring a cornucopia image for fall], focus on your store brand or showcase a character who "speaks" for the store. Beware of creating a "hodgepodge" of themes, Segel warns. This happens when a store owner starts one theme, leaves up the related signage, introduces another theme, and eventually has signs with three or four different themes.

• Limit the number of manufacturer signs. "You want people to come [to the store] for you, not the manufacturer," Segel says. "Plus, good manufacturers want to do business with stores with strong brands." The exception to this rule are manufacturer signs that include the name and price of a product. "These types of signs will help retailers sell products."

• Reassure customers that it's OK to return products. Segel likes IKEA's warm and friendly return sign that features a heart with two hands extending from it.

• Be aware of negative signs. "This is when everything says 'No, no, no.'" Humor is the best way to handle policy-related signs, Segel says. He cites a favorite example: "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy."

Note: To contact Segel, log on to

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