Sign & Digital Graphics

December '14

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S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S • December 2014 • 67 Cartersville, Ga.-based Signs & More, Inc., however, "as you mature, you move into particular niches. The important thing is that you have to have a good website." Swanson used his experience in man- ufacturing to begin specializing. With a manufacturing background, Swanson identified an initial niche by "running a whole bunch of coroplast signs," he explains. However, to expand into addi- tional niches he leveraged his website coupled with looking for near-term opportunities and in-person networking actions to break into the K-12 education and apartment rental areas. Swanson developed partnerships with school districts by approaching athletic directors, PTA members and principals to establish a working relationship. This helped Swanson explain to them what his sign company did and how his processes work. Ways Swanson mar- keted to new school districts included approaching complementary businesses that have an existing relationship with schools through his local Chambers of Commerce. Using his website, Swanson dedicates a page to an individual niche, showcasing past projects for new school districts to review. Specializing in the apartment and rental property signage niche, Swanson found this area to have the potential for comprehensive and on-going signage needs. Reaching out to trade associa- tions for the apartment and multi-fam- ily housing rental industry, along with referrals, he found opportunities such as entry signs, unit number signs and direc- tional signs. Many of these signs have the potential for repeat business based on natural wear, or if the apartment unit goes into foreclosure, requiring a re- naming and beautification of the facility. Finding New Niches Donald Berglund, partner of Atlanta- based Instant One Media explained how his marketing and promotions company, transitioned into serving the car wrap industry and later appliance wraps. After finding success in the car wrap industry, marketing directly to companies and cold calling them, he wanted to special- ize in another niche of the sign indus- try. "What other market or niche could I find that nobody else has really filled?" Berglund asked. A n s w e r i n g h i s o w n q u e s t i o n , Berglund recommends "acting like a customer and start researching who's offering it [the particular sign product]" to see what niches are being filled and which ones aren't. Thinking and acting as a customer by looking at social media, such as Facebook, enabled him to see what specials, deals and work other sign shops may have done in this particular area. However, this can be applied in any industry. Looking at different holidays and sea- sons can give a better indication of what types of signage different industries are using or might have a need for. Examples Bergland highlighted include looking at bars and restaurants during the holiday and Super Bowl seasons or the real estate industry during the spring time. Looking at external factors, along with internal factors can provide hidden value, increas- ing work. Specialized Marketing Determining if your sign business qualifies for special federal or state clas- sification can present niche marketing opportunities. Qualifying as a H U B (Historically Under-Utilized Business with the State of Texas), Paul Ingle, co- owner of Design Center Sign in Tyler, Texas, explained how it has, "helped us even out the ups and downs of the sign industry." Owning his sign business with his wife, it qualified as a woman-owned business. This certifcation has given his company 10–20 daily bidding opportuni- ties, permitting state and federal agen- cies such as the Texas Parks and Wildlife (department) to buy signage products from his company. Timing is Everything Regardless of the niche, finding when a new business breaks ground, literally or figuratively, can greatly increase the chances of businesses allocating more room in their budget for signage. "A lot of the times they [new businesses] are over budget, because they spent all of Evaluating one's marketing strategy will help you determine how to market your business to take advantage of future growth Billboard installation for a local community college athletics design and instal- lation by Design Center Signs in Tyler, Texas. The Fresh by Brookshire's logo-branding was also used for exterior signage and business cards.

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