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Banners + Awnings

Banner Value vs. Banner Cost

Too often, sign-makers undercharge for this sign-industry staple. Don’t!

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"I’m looking for some signs. I need one for a party to celebrate an employee’s tenth year with our bakery. I need another sign to advertise our new location in the new strip mall near the high-tech industrial complex across town. And I want to let everyone who drives by that location know we also serve gourmet coffees and have a drive-thru window on the end of the building. I need to get all this by tomorrow and I need to keep the cost down. Can you help me, please?" This scenario, or one like it, plays out in signshops everyday. Analysis of the situation suggests that the customer needs three signs for three different purposes, is in a hurry, and is constrained by budget. Naturally, we’d prefer to create dramatic, award-winning signage for the customer — the very best we have to offer. But immediate need and budget restraints make doing so impractical. The customer’s needs can thus be best met by creating banners. Do a good job, and you’ll likely sell him more durable signage later. Notice that the three banners are quite different. Each will serve a different purpose, display a different message, and require different performance capability. The "bunner’s" celebration banner ("Congratulations to a 10-Year Loafer") will be used for one event, and will likely be installed indoors. The location banner ("Batter Baker’s Here!") will be hung on the building in front of the bakery. The announcement banner ("Take Your Buns Through Our Espresso-to-Go Window!") will be placed between two poles near the road. These banners can be made fast and economically for the client, perform their intended functions, serve until permanent identification signage is prepared, and make the signshop excellent profit. Vinyl graphics are ideal for such applications. The different purposes and performance expectations mean you can use different vinyls for these jobs. The one-use celebration banner can be quickly generated from an inexpensive roll of monomeric, calendered vinyl. The banner can also be weeded but not masked, and taped, stapled or pinned to a wall. The two outdoor banners require higher performance. They’ll hang outdoors — in the wind, sun and rain — for a longer period of time. Thus, you should use cast vinyl for these projects. Remember, clients usually use banners four times longer than they originally project, unless you follow up by selling them more permanent signage. As such, you’re better off overbuilding a banner than you are underengineering one. As to banner material, the identification banner on the building could be constructed from lighter-weight materials than the espresso banner between the two poles; because of its location, the pole banner will withstand much greater windload. But keep this fact in mind: Often, the difference in price between two weights of banner material is negligible. And inventory carrying costs often offset the price difference. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense (and it makes life a lot simpler) to keep only the higher-performance banner material on-hand — material that will serve every outdoor need. But how do you know which material’s better? Easy. Consult with your banner supplier about expected performance differences. Banner value All banners are signs. And signs either inform, instruct or persuade viewers. Their value should be measured by how effectively they achieve these purposes. Obviously, a one-time-use banner is less valuable than a banner that millions of passing motorists see day-in and day-out for months. Take this fact into account when pricing your banners. Remember: A high-price banner that effectively conveys its message for a long time, ends up costing less per day than a cheap, poorly designed banner. The following anecdote effectively illustrates just how valuable a banner can be. A Florida sign-maker reported that a furniture store running a sale with full-page newspaper ads only generated about $1,000 extra business the first three days of the sale. The fourth day, a large banner went up, and the store did more than $11,000 worth of extra business. Banner cost Production and sales costs for any banner, even a simple 1 x 6-ft. tape-up, will run at least $1/sq. ft. Formula-based pricing suggests a minimum of $3/sq. ft. for even the simplest of banners. More durable productions will be at least $6-10/sq. ft. Take these factors into account when pricing, but also consider how valuable the banner is to the customer. Remember, we live in a society that puts a premium on conventions. Otherwise, "Espresso-to-Go" . . . wouldn’t! The better you are at communicating the effectiveness of good signage and better layout of those signs, the better you will be at commanding a higher price for the production. Your sign-layout skills may be outstanding, but if your communication and sales skills are weak, you’ll never earn the money you deserve. So take a class and improve them! The cost of your education will pay for itself on the very next sign that you sell. In the meantime, just hang some scaled-down versions of the good, better and best banners you’ve created on your presentation wall. (You have a presentation wall, don’t you?) On the same wall, display a cheap, worn-out, ug-ug-ugly banner (or, at least, a photo of one). Next to it, hang a little sign that says, "If you want the cheapest sign, here’s what you may end up with!" Don’t forget the fries! You can generate additional profit by selling banner peripherals such as rope, stretch cords, mounting hardware, banner-cleaning supplies, and installation and maintenance service. The latter service — provided for a nominal fee, of course — will keep your customer’s investment intact. Plus, when you perform maintenance, you get to travel to the customer’s place of business and prospect him (and his neighbors) for additional sign sales. Vinyl application tips Finally, here are a few tips for applying vinyl graphics to banners: 1) Prep the banner with isopropyl alcohol or a similar effective solvent. 2) Clamp or staple the banner to a hard, flat table or wall. This minimizes wrinkles during vinyl application. 3) Try to apply graphics dry. Use application fluid on the mask to gently release the latex adhesive from the vinyl. 4) On multiple, duplicate banners, eyeball the layout of the graphics on the first one to achieve the best balance and rhythm. Then, use this banner as a model for the others. This will speed the applications and prevent tedious laboring over mechanically measured layouts. 5) Put your company signature on every banner you create.

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