June 20, 2014 by Craig Pontey
In 1970, the song Signs Signs, Everywhere a Sign was released by the Five Man Electrical Band and the song’s lyrics often remind me about the importance of real estate signs, which are still in today’s fast moving digital world a must have in any marketing plan.
Signs are an important and a key item in any residential sales tool-box. As such an essential area it’s reassuring that the quality and usefulness of signs continues to improve.
I think that today, the first rule appears to be to keep signs simple, with the aim to only convey the core information so that any person interested can make contact easily. Quality photos are important as are clear easy to read contact numbers, web address and the agents branding.
This does not rule out the application of creative ideas or suggest that signs can be boring. But understanding that signs are used to communicate core messages, well-written copy is still important. However over recent years major groups like Ray White have invested a lot of effort to improve their signs. Rather than filling signs with content or complex graphics the idea is that signs should be structured in size and content to make them easy to read. The size of the core message must be able to be read easily, but there is still a need to ensure that the potential buyer makes contact, and I do think that signs can be distilled so much that they fail to make an emotional connection.
A few months ago I saw a sign, which was reasonably large, that contained a QR Code, a You Tube address, web address, the agents contact number and logo. But with no image, and no other details at all. I also noted that it was not easy to establish the address of the home, but I suspect that with all of the other reference points this was not seen as necessary.
I have some reservations about this approach. Because as an interested part I have access to so much information I may think it’s not necessary to speak to the sale agent. The video, web listing and QR code could be convincing or without the agent’s participation I might just talk myself out of considering the property.
Beyond this approach which is none-the-less very relevant in today’s media mix there will also be times when a sign will need to be very creative, one that is designed to make a statement about a particular property. This is an example that might need just the right mix of photography and copy to convey a compelling message to engage the audience.
For particular properties or locations the sign can be less information driven and more about seeding interest in a clever way that makes the viewer think, what’s that about? These signs can be used on pre-auction or expression of interest campaigns.
However any sign needs to help generate traffic, either direct foot traffic to opens or a telephone call or to get the consumer to visit a web site. However I still think that the best result will be personal contact, web traffic is fine, but the consumer who visits a web site can do so without any direct feedback or interaction with the sales team.
Web and email details should also be simple and easy to remember and spell. All of the sign content needs to make it easy for any buyer to make contact and when they do there should also be a fail-safe message collection if calls are not answered instantly.
Do Signs Work
Do signs work? Yes they do. Signs are one of the most recalled media and many buyers will refer to having seen a sign when asked the question: ‘how did you hear about this property’.
While this might not be the only response, it is common; signs are often one of the last things a person will see before making contact with our office. Signs also have the advantage of being attached to the actual property for sale, no other media can do that, it’s a simple fact that can not be discounted.
However if the buyer is in a new area out of their normal environment then the chances are that they have seen some other form of advertising before coming to the location to encounter the sign. It’s all part of the mix of how we connect with the market.
Where possible I think that signs should also reinforce any other current advertising that is being used and this is greatly reinforced by uniform branding.
The content and placement of signs can at times be under estimated, but signs are important cost affective assets. Technology is also starting to have an impact on how signs are produced, the advent of digital photography and digital printing have had a big impact on quality and the time needed to produce great signs. There are also now some outdoor digital live monitor signs with rotating images and information, signs that tell a story.
Signs are often known as ‘silent salesman’ because they work hard, they are on duty 24 hours a day, (sounds familiar!) their importance no matter what format –traditional or digital can not really be over-stated.
Most local government areas now have strict signage policies and this fact has I think lead many sales agents to more carefully manage this important marketing tool, but in any sales plan signs remain an essential.