Marketing Feature for SignLink Magazine – offering advice on digital marketing for Sign Writers

SignLink Marketing For Sign Writers InterviewDigital NRG was honoured to be interviewed by SignLink magazine.

Martyn Lenthall, Managing Director, faced tough questions on marketing and the signage industry.

“How can signage companies utilise marketing to promote and grow business?”

The days of relying solely on word of mouth and traditional advertising are long behind us. Only a few years ago a good-sized, coloured advert in Yellow Pages was enough to keep a sign business busy. Although the customers are still out there, some may say more now than ever, the way to attract them to your business has changed.

For many traditional sign companies, with either retail space or an office, the online world of marketing is either where the low-cost competitors or the “big boys” are based. However, there is room for the small to medium size business to get their fair share of the business. In an area where there is heavy competition, the first to use online or digital marketing in the area will likely take more than their fair share!

When it comes to being found online there is only one place to concentrate on and that is Google search results. Many businesses shy away from trying to get the most from Google as it can seem daunting or costly. It does require a degree of expertise to get the right enquiries from Google, however that expertise can be bought relatively cheaply and deliver a great return on investment.

It is thought, and our at Bamsh Digital Marketing experience shows, that Google prefers small businesses in its results. Google wants to give the users of their search engine their preference, which is a reliable and authoritative local accompany. Increasing your online presence can greatly promote and grow your business.

“Is there a set of marketing strategies that you would say form the foundation for successful marketing for sign writers?”

The foundation of any marketing strategy is the company’s website. However you get traffic to the website through digital marketing, the website itself MUST have some of the “best practice” to convert a website visitor to a potential customer. Otherwise, all efforts and budget to drive them to your website will be wasted. Best practice includes:

  1. First 15 seconds – when people land on your website they will, on average, make a decision if your company, products and services are what they are after in the first 15 seconds. At that point they will leave and look at a competitor’s website or will stay and read your information. Is your website such that within 15 seconds a visitor can tell if your business is high-end or offering a low-cost solution? Can they see images of all of the types of services or products your offer? Is there an immediate sales message to grab attention? If the answer to any of those are “no” then you need to review your current website.

 

  1. Make it super easy to contact you – what is your preferred method of a potential customer to send you their lead? Would you like them to call you or send an email? Which method has the best conversion rate?

Potential customers will not spend time hunting around for a way to contact you. If your website has the contact details on a “contact page” or your telephone number at the top or bottom of the page, you may as well not have a website at all.

Once you have decided your preferred way for people to contact you then add that to your website at every “page scroll”. A page scroll is where on a page a visitor has to scroll down to see more of the page. Wherever someone is on any page there should be in view your preferred method to contact you. This can be an “email us now” button that opens a contact form or a “call us now button” that starts a telephone call.

  1. Make your website fully responsive – regardless of your type of sign company, services, products or location, over half the people that visit your website will be doing so on their mobile phone.

Does your website have a mobile-friendly version? This doesn’t mean that it can be just viewed on a mobile, it needs to adapt or be responsive regardless of the size of the screen the user is using. This is called a “responsive website”. It is widely unknown that Google has two search engine results. One for laptop and desktop users and one for tablets and mobile phone users. If your website is not fully responsive, then it is quite likely that your website will not be shown in these results – meaning that over 50% of your potential customers will not be able to find or see your website.

  1. Authority – Website authority has two meanings. Authority, as seen by Google, and authority as seen by website visitors.

Google reads and scores every website for “authority”. Whilst some of this score is associated to the age of the website address, most of it is attributed to the content on your website and the number of other websites that link to yours. The higher your authority with Google, the higher you will rank in the search engines.  Digital marketing agencies, such as Bamsh Digital marketing, start the process of ranking a website by reviewing the “authority” of the client’s website and the authority of the local competitors who are ranking well. This forms part of the strategy to getting our client at the top of the rankings and taking website traffic from local competitors.

Authority with website visitor is completely different. Remember, you have 15 seconds to make an impact, so high on the home page of your website should be examples of the signage and work you have completed with well-known businesses, highlighting that these well-known and recognisable brands trusted you with their signage.

  1. Let previous customers make the sale for you – have you ever bought a product online or booked a holiday? What was the deciding factor? Price? Or was it the previous customers’ reviews and feedback? A recent large-scale survey found that 93% of people stated that reviews influenced their buying decision.

Customer reviews and testimonials are a simple way to hugely drive up the conversion rate of your business. Genuine customer reviews, added to the website in the correct way, will also help with rankings and being found by local customers.

6. Keep the website fresh – Google loves fresh content. A long article (2000 words) or a couple of short articles (600 words each) each month on a subject related to the signage industry will give your website a huge boost in rankings. Google prefers and promotes (in the rankings) websites that regularly provide new content.

7. Be found for what people are looking for – the words and terms that people put into Google, called “keywords” in the marketing industry, need to be used throughout your website.

In an industry full of technical jargon it can be easy to lose sight of the basic, general and sometimes old-fashioned terms that people might use when trying to find a sign business.

An out of industry example would be for a removal company. More people search for a “man with a van” than they do a removal company, in fact, in the UK around 1,500 people a month search for a removal company, over 27,000 searches for a “man with a van”. Most removal companies would be horrified to be associated with the man in a van service, however, virtually all removal companies offer “small moves” and guess what? They complete the small move with a man in a van.  Having a page or content on their website regarding “small moves” and mentioning a “man with a van” service could attract 18 times more traffic and potential customers to their website.

The most used terms in the signage industry and associated products are (Monthly UK Volumes)

Keyword           Avg. Search Volume

banner printing             3559

sign writing                   2900

shop signs                     2400

sign makers                  1092

custom neon signs        1058

vinyl signs                     1058

vehicle graphics             1000

shop front signs             1000

sign makers near me     1000

magnetic signs              1000

metal signs                   880

business signs               872

custom signs                 661

sign company                624

sign maker online          590

sign shop                      542

outdoor signs                476

neon sign maker           387

custom made signs       170

commercial signs          138

outdoor business signs  121

store signs                    38

 

Nearly three times more people search for “sign writers” than “sign makers”, yet most businesses would use the latter term throughout their website. Worried everyone is buying online? “Sign makers near me” is searched almost as much as “sign makers” – people are looking for local companies and this is why Google loves to promote local companies.

8. Show examples of your work – when someone has a need they prefer to see an example where their need has been fulfilled by you. Case studies are a perfect way to showcase examples. A short article regarding the last sign you made. Where it was to be placed, any restrictions on the signage, any specific customer requests and how you satisfied them – are all good content to add to a case study

“How can signage companies utilise social media in their marketing strategies?”

Many businesses still don’t realise the power of social media and this is a mistake. Social Media platforms, for example, Twitter and Facebook have become respectable places for any company to attract qualified prospects. Facebook has in excess of 38 MILLION active and frequent users in the UK and the number is expected to rise to a number exceeding 42 MILLION by 2020. No matter if your company sells to consumers (B2C) or other companies (B2B), your potential customers are on Facebook and using it often.

Facebook is excellent at raising awareness during the customers “research” stage, reminding them of your services or products during the “consideration” stage and putting your specific products and solutions in front of prospective customers at the “buying” stage. With such a substantial target audience and also the versatility to target customers through the entire buying process, Facebook is often a good avenue to obtain leads and sales and to deliver a wonderful return on investment.

To set-up a business Facebook page (called a fan page) is free and relatively easy to do. Although marketing and remarketing through Facebook require investment, having a Facebook page allows customers to recommend you through Facebook.

“As most of the businesses in the Sign Industry are Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs), do you have any advice for those wanting to improve their marketing strategies, on a small budget?”

Online or digital marketing does not have to expensive. Most new clients with Bamsh Digital Marketing start with a small budget and increase this as new sales are achieved. In fact, the budget is rarely a factor. If a marketing company said that they expect to return double the money invested in advertising as profit i.e. £2 of profit for every £1 invested – what would you set your budget at? Return on investment and capacity within the business to fulfil orders in a timely manner actually determine the budget that should be invested.

If you are a SMB or SME on a limited budget, I would suggest the following is the order of priority:

  1. Get an eye-catching, visitor converting website that is fully mobile responsive
  2. Use an agency to optimise this website so it ranks well in the search engines for local searches. This is called “search engine optimisation” or SEO.
  3. If there is capacity in the business after the website is ranking or there is a need for immediate sales – consider a Google Adwords campaign. Ensure you use an experienced agency who will be able to deliver low-cost leads.

If you have absolutely zero budget there are a number of activities that could get more leads. Find and claim your businesses “Google Maps” (actually called Google My Business) and ensure that the details are correct. Add images and examples of work.

Create videos of your work, your customers and staff. This doesn’t require expensive equipment; your phone will do.  Add these videos to your website and Facebook page. They are likely to appear in the search results and will almost certainly be shared by the companies or people featured in them.

“Can you offer any advice on where to start, for those who are new to marketing?”

Firstly, get a free audit of your website and overall marketing. Often, tweaks to the current programme can see an almost instant improvement in leads.

Next, find a digital marketing agency. As mentioned before, it need not be expensive to buy in the expertise. The return on investment should make it a profit-generating service, rather than a cost. Getting leads online is a series of time-consuming activities that generate small, but frequent improvements. Experience and expertise are the keys.

Avoid any agency that talks about a “secret sauce” to get rankings. There isn’t a “secret sauce” or “silver bullet” to achieve results. There are only solid working practices. Although quick wins and early successes are achievable, the best results come from implementing consistent working practices.

Although the best results take time to achieve, avoid SEO agencies that try and tie you into a long contract. This is an early indication that they either have little faith in the results they will achieve, or their working practices take longer than the norm. The best SEO agencies will have a contract length that holds the business partnership together for a period that will start to see results, allowing you to make a commercial decision after that based on return on investment. This would normally be a 6-month contract.

Great questions to ask a potential agency you could work with

When interviewing or just having an informal discussion with your potential service provider there are some key questions to ask.

  1. What processes will you use to accomplish the goals of the business? Why those processes?
  2. How will you report work carried out and results? How often?
  3. What involvement will you need from us?
  4. What do you do when things just aren’t working?
  5. How does Google rank results? How do you work with this?

If you do not know the answers to these questions, it doesn’t matter. It is the confidence the agency has in its answer that counts. Can they explain the processes without trying to bamboozle you with jargon? Can they show examples of doing what they say they do? It is as important to understand how they communicate the answer, rather than the answers themselves.

Lastly, the agency should show as much passion for your business as you do yourself. How interested are the goals you want to achieve? Do you feel like they are keen to help your business grow?

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