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Sign companies and web sites, or the lack thereof
By Brian Stickland

It is an eye opening experience to view the world's number one business directory, the Yellow Pages, and to see the huge number of sign companies that either do not have a web site or are ignoring the opportunity of promoting it.

With internet based business being the way a growing number of business people are preferring to do business, the only excuse for a sign company not to be exploiting this huge opportunity is if the management does not want extra work, or does not wish to remind their existing customers why they came to them in the first place.

One assumes there is an aura of complacency in our industry in this regard.  One is also forced to wonder if the bulk of our industry is even 'on-line' with an e-mail address.

There are nearly 5000 sign writers nation wide listed in the Australian Yellow Pages and if one takes the trouble to skip the first few who do list their web site details, go on past these first few and you will note that the majority of sign companies do the absolute minimum of supplying information on themselves by including a web site. If they have a web site, it is not mentioned.

I am aware that the Yellow Pages may charge extra for the addition of web site details.

Also I do not want to put web sites or any other form of marketing ahead of face to face contact and the building of relationships when doing business.

It is understandable that company owners are reluctant to list e-mail contact details due to the problem of encouraging spam. However perhaps one should be guided by the positives rather then the negatives in this regard. Many new customers would prefer not to have voice contact on their first enquiry.

Creating a web site is not difficult, nor need it be expensive, but it can be your best marketing tool by far. There are free sites available as well, just Google the words, "Free Web Sites", and you will be amazed at the opportunities that present themselves. Perhaps you only need a single static page.

It is also not necessary to spend large amounts promoting it for it to work for you.

A static page could require an absolute minimum of maintenance. In other words, once it is set up, you may not need to change it for quite a while. Look at it as your company brochure as well as an excellent business card.

There are two types of advertising, passive and active.
Passive advertising relates to directory listings and other instances of where a buyer comes looking for you. When he/she does, the web site should be telling the buyer why they should be doing business with you.

Active advertising is where you spend money and go out looking for new business with your advertising.

Passive advertising can be very effective and usually does not cost a lot, if at all. For instance if you are listed in directories such as the Yellow Pages, association membership lists or the new Wide Format Online magazine wide format directory (which goes live in early April 2008), for goodness sake list your web site so that potential customers can learn more about you and find the information that they need in order to give you their business.

Print your web site details on every bit of paper that your clients and potential clients will see; business cards, invoices and statements or any promotional print that you distribute.

You can never stop selling. Remember your customers are your competitors prospects in addition to being your best prospects for new business, so never get complacent about your marketing.