Think About What You Are Selling
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SignLab from CADlink


Think About What You Are Selling

Our real competition is not the sign prices of other sign shops, but in reality our real competition is the effectiveness of signs for the betterment of our client’s business versus the effectiveness of our competitor’s signs.

By Mark Roberts

If I have heard it once, I have heard it thousands of times. At sign shows, in my seminar classes, on the show floors at sign conventions, and in trade show booths. “Wow Mark, I would like to charge these prices that are in your book, but I just cannot get those kinds of prices in my market.” In fact, two sign professionals made this exact statement a couple of weeks ago at the ISA show in Las Vegas. All I could say was, “Wow!”

2008 Sign Price Manual from SignPrice.com

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  • To that statement of denial, and others like it I say loud and clear, “BUNK”! Not only can you ask for and get book prices, but also in many instances you can get prices “beyond” the suggested book prices. How is this possible? Easy. You just have to be constantly aware of what it is you are selling.

    The Price is Right
    Another famous line I have heard about book prices is this one: “ I don’t care about book prices, I just triple my costs and I do just fine”. Maybe they will do fine for a while, but with the attitude of setting sign prices by multiplying cost by a certain factor, the unfortunate sign maker is relegating his hard work to a commodity status. We must all stop and think about what we are selling.

    Another popular comment that I hear way too often is this: “I can take a piece of aluminum that costs five dollars, and slap three lines of vinyl on it, that cost three dollars and if I sell it for twenty four dollars, I have tripled my money.” Well, wrong again my friend. Too many people only look at their raw material costs for a basis of establishing prices.

    So, what are they forgetting? How about overhead for starters? Next, what about your maintenance funds to repair and replace sign equipment and computers? What about insurance, truck notes, repairs, and other items that need to be paid each and every month. What about the biggies like your weekly salary and your retirement funds?

    Now with all those things in mind, do you see the silliness of the last example? We simply cannot arbitrarily multiply any sign by a certain percentage to achieve a selling price. There is nothing left over for the expenses and our future.

    In our industry, which is the commercial sign “advertising” industry, when it comes to price, we really do not want our products to be considered as commodities. Our real competition is not the sign prices of other sign shops, but in reality our real competition is the effectiveness of signs for the betterment of our client’s business versus the effectiveness of our competitor’s signs.

    Sure, our client can always buy a lower priced sign, but what do they get for the lower price? Certainly they will not get a more effective advertising message. Certainly they will not get a higher quality product and certainly they will not get the care and pride that goes with a well made and correctly priced sign.

    Is It Worth It?
    We all have lost business to the lower priced sign companies. I do not have to tell you that when we drove by the location of our confused customer, and we saw the sign that they ordered from our competitor, we were not surprised in the least when we saw what they received for their lower price. Time and time again the customer will sacrifice workmanship, design, materials and aesthetics to save a few dollars. It is our mission and purpose to take the time to educate our established clients, as well as our prospects, that a well designed, constructed, and installed sign is well worth our asking price.

    RENOLIT Calendered Vinyl - Top performance for various applications

    We must all establish the credibility of our companies to our clients for the purposes of building value into our sales equations. Each of our clients have the responsibility to negotiate the best deal for their business, but our motive as sign company owners is to offer them the best advertising value for their dollar. This rarely means agreeing on the lowest possible price.

    This is why I am such a fan of the three and four tier pricing structure that I use in my sign-pricing manual. This offers us enough latitude to have a price for a wide range of sign buyers. Of course there will be businesses that are just starting out and they will only have enough money for the most basic truck-lettering project. If that is the case, there is a price for a basic truck-lettering project.

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    On the other hand, when we are dealing with an established business, and you are making the sale in their place of business, be as observant as an owl looking for his evening meal. Look around and around at all of their store accessories, their displays, their yellow pages advertisements, their newspaper advertisements, their billboard advertisements, and even their radio and television advertisements. If you see an abundance of these other advertising tools in place and on the job, you will have a very easy time of selling your signs at your price.

    The smart and progressive business owner knows the true value of well-invested advertising dollars. It is now our job to jump into their advertising budget and get our fair share. You can believe that the newspaper ad salesman, the yellow pages ad salesperson, and the other advertising salespersons rarely back down from their prices. They have established their value and their price. We must do the same. When we fail to sell a sign at the price we know is fair, and we succumb to a discount, we will cheat not only ourselves, but our client as well. Our heart will not be totally in the project if we are not working for the price that we knew was a fair price for both parties.

    To escape the bottom level of sign sales, where all shops are equal and price wins every time, we must raise the bar and progress to a level above all other shops in our market. We do this through specialization and superior quality and service. At this stage, the client will soon realize that price is less of an issue, and quality, service and overall appearance of the sign is really more important that the bottom line price.

    When our clients finally see the light and choose our products by their effectiveness as advertising tools and not by how low a price tag they carry, their advertising program will pay for their new sign, vehicle lettering, or store displays in record time.

    Who really appreciates low prices? Can you ever remember looking at a cheap sign on the side of a building and saying to yourself, “Now that is a smart businessman! He knows how to save money on his signs.” No, you will probably never say that, and we must take steps to avoid our own client’s potential embarrassment by preventing them from buying cheap and non-effective advertising signs. Remember...think of what you are selling!

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