The City of Alexandria has asked the Alexandria SBDC to provide specialized assistance during the next year to our retail and restaurant small businesses to increase their opportunities for success. You will see several new workshops, videos and online information as we roll out this initiative. Recently, the City of Alexandria distributed new signage guidelines to the retail businesses in Old Town.
To assist Alexandria’s businesses with both signage and marketing in general, the SBDC has created a new section of its website where it will curate information from subject-matter experts on issues important to our Retail and Restaurant small business owners. The City’s signage brochure and the first four information pieces have been places in the repository and can be accessed at www.alexandriasbdc.org/retail-restaurant. The first four information pieces were written by Paul Williams of Idea Sandbox. At the request of the Alexandria SBDC he also prepared a summary of Tips for Better Messaging. Consider the following tips when developing signage for your business:
- Prioritize Your Messages – based on the reader’s perspective. Use headline messaging on your larger signs and smaller details on the close-up signage. Keep Signage Fresh– Replace before it gets worn, curls, lights burn out, photo colors fade, tears, or is out-of-date.
- Be Clear About What You Do – If your business name does not make it clear, add an icon (blow dryer, hot dog icon, diamond ring) or a second line of type (blow dry bar, gourmet hot dogs, engagement rings).
- Curb Appeal – Signage is only part of your presentation. Don’t neglect your window display, cleanliness of your sidewalk, front door, or building facade. Customers judge your business by its cover.
- Less is more! – Too many messages create confusion, not clarity. The goal of exterior signage is to bring people inside. Then, use the inside of your store and your employees to provide additional details when the customer is ready.
- Design Professionally – Use the right combination of colors, typefaces, lettering size, and white space for quick and clear communication. Hire a professional – it is an investment, not an expense.
- Word-of-Mouth Beats Signage– The best, most credible way to drive traffic and sales to your business is by doing the things that will make existing customers so enthusiastic they can’t resist telling others about you.
- Show, Don’t Tell – If you can, skip text and instead merchandise your product. A mouth-watering plated sandwich, food photography, or well-assembled outfit is worth 1,000 words.
- Have a Big BrandLook – You don’t need big budgets, staff, and research tools of national brands; you simply need to see what they’re doing and apply it to your business.
- Perceived Value – If you want customers to spend more money with you, offer a level of customer service and a store experience that makes them feel your prices are worth every dollar – and more.