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The Banner Boom

"They're everywhere! They're everywhere!"

By Staff

For those shops in the sign industry, it just seems like the polyethylene banners are everywhere. Convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, auto parts stores, and every Mom-and-Pop operation on the main drag in town seem to be streaming with banners.

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  • Each season seems to bring out banners announcing the dates of a coming community festival, the sign-up period for Pee Wee football or Little League, or the celebration of a special event at a local school or for a local charitable organization.

    Why not be a part of the banner boom?

    Volume means profit. The more banners you or your shop sells the more money there is to be made. But how do you know if you or your shop can produce the volume necessary to make the banner boom profitable?

    If you or someone in your shop can stroke out a banner in a short period of time, the banner boom can mean some serious money. But there is not a lot of profit in each banner: the serious money comes in a little profit from a lot of banners.

    Nor is the banner boom an outlet for creativity, ingenuity, or originality. Polyethylene banners are not the sign work that will make you a legend in your own mind or in your own time. It is work to be done as fast as possible.

    So, what does it take to get out a banner in no time flat?

    Stretch and secure the banner on your work area. Don't attempt to paint both sides of a polyethylene banner. Only the side with the material that is "corona treated" will take the paint.

    Strike out horizontal lines on the banner with a blue Stabilo.

    Use a one-stroke casual letter. Do each letter so that it does not require a finish-off stroke. Remember that time is money. Each stroke takes time and costs you money. The fewer strokes for you the better the banner will be for your shop's profit.

    Vary the size of the lines.

    For some stylistic variety, you might consider using a jumbo market to do underlining or to add a little different color. Try not to get into any multi-color extravaganzas. Most banner signs are glanced at when a car speeds by or when people stride down the street on a mission. Banners are not meant to be subtle or tricky.

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    In short, don't get artistic. Slap, dab, simple, clean, and done. Art takes time and costs money.

    Polyethylene banners are smooth and slick. Paint selection is important. A coating product for the banner is not cost-effective. Water-based enamels won't hold up in the outdoors. Some banner makers use lettering enamel thinner with acrylic enamel reducer. Others use oil-based poster paint if they do not mind a dull finish. Many recommend screen printing poly ink that is thinned.

    If the banners are simple, the money is faster and easier. High volume and increased profit come with a "mass production" mentality. You do not promise anything special. You do not wrestle with aesthetic design, clever wording, or special effects. The banner boom is best joined by sign shops who are capable of setting aside their urges for creativity and the careful attention to details.

    Also, the best business scenario is to build and cultivate a host of regular customers for your banner trade. Certainly, walk-ins and one-shot customer are welcome. However it is important to remember that volume is the key to profit in the banner boom.

    The perfect scenario is to have a number of regular customers who need a number of the same banners. For example, if there is a management company that handles a number of convenience stores, you want to tap into their weekly specials trade. One week it is generic brand cigarettes; another week it is a designated brand of beverage; the next a fountain-drink-and-hot-dog deal. That's a banner for the building and perhaps even one for out on the highway. If they manage three, four, or more convenience stores, then your cash drawer is ringing.

    Some banner makers charge by the letter or the word. That can be a formula for fiscal disaster. Many banners are a just a few words, a few numbers, and a dash of color.

    Other shops have a minimum charge per banner-say $10-and a rate per word over a minimum number. For example, they allow seven words for each banner and then charge a dollar for every word after the seventh.

    Some shops figure their banner business based on the amount of gross per hour. They calculate that their shop has to generate a fixed amount of revenue per hours-say $50-to make the net profit from banners worth their time and resources.

    Yes, the banner business is booming everywhere. Think about it. Can you-or are you willing to-turn out the number of banners necessary to make the banners profitable? Is your mind right for a volume market?

    If your answers are "yes!," get the word out and let the boom begin in your shop.

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