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Showing Your Work and Keeping Copy Short — Just Two of March’s Tips

Plus, after two revisions ask a peer to review your work before submitting.

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“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” — Harriet Tubman

MARKETING The Human Touch

1 Think of the dreaded “M” word as a component of business development, not sales, says James Keppel of CLI Services (Denver). “Show your work, talk about the process and tell everybody where the bodies are buried,” he explains. A good anecdote about a project, process or client interaction helps to humanize the story, the people and the results. “Don’t allow your work to be viewed as a commodity.”

QUOTING Friendly Reminder

2 “Follow up!” recommends Russell Toynes of Studio Dzo (Austin, TX) on old quotes that never received a response. “Follow up in a non-pushy, ‘just circling back on this’ way. Don’t leave a bag of money hanging on a limb,” he adds. To help customers understand what they are getting at a job’s end, Cody McElroy and Commercial Signs (Houma, LA) spell out their quotes in detail.

COLLABORATION The Work of Others

3 Ask a peer to review your work before submitting if more than three revisions have occurred, whether to design or estimating, advises Bob Persichetti of Effective Sign Works (Burlington, NJ). Ian McLellan of Hill House Graphics (Bristol, RI) encourages delegating and overseeing when possible, with patience. “Do not micromanage,” he stresses.

DESIGN Brevity Is Wit

4 The best signs quickly communicate problem-solving values and benefits that appeal to a client’s needs or wants, according to Larry Mitchell of SignChef (El Dorado Hills, CA). Pick words and graphics that immediately express benefits. “Some of the best headlines are only two words: ‘WAR ENDS!’ – ‘CANCER CURED!’ – ‘FREE GAS!’ I’d buy that newspaper!”

RESOURCES Book Club

5 Comprehending and optimizing processes are paramount for expansion, says Patrick Clifford of Clifford Signs (Kokomo, IN), regarding a lesson he learned from reading Michael E. Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited. Derek Atchley and Atchley Graphics (Columbus, OH) recommend The Lean Deal by Michael Althoff of Yellotools fame. “Very good content that we are adapting into our own processes and more,” Atchley says.

TRAINING Slow But Steady

6 Make use of the online training that the International Sign Association (ISA) provides for new employees, advises Sara Geiger of Fox Cities Sign (Appleton, WI). “Having them learn starting with Signs 101 has helped tremendously for people new to the industry,” Geiger says. She often hears employees complain about past companies that offered them minimal to no training, which then subjected them to management’s wrath. “Slow down, take the time, it pays off!”

ADD MORE HUMAN TOUCHES Connect to Another Person

7 At its core, culture is human connection, argues the business author and marketer Seth Godin. Over hundreds of thousands of years, our brains have evolved to excel at interacting with other humans, and as a result we feel most fulfilled when we do. It’s why the more technology colonizes the world, the more important it becomes to add human touches throughout your operation. Godin says every member of your staff should be trying to “figure out how to take that customer who just came in or is on their way out and make them feel 10 percent better by saying something, doing something, interacting with them. Not because it’s in the manual, not because they memorized it, but because they see a way to connect to another person.” It’s the sort of action that will allow your company to truly stand out at a time when most service is either abrupt or automated.

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Tip Briefs

  • When mounting a sign with studs embedded, prior to installation, toothpaste provides a good alternative to mark the wall. — Jeffrey Chudoff, Fastsigns of Maple Shade, Maple Shade, NJ
  • The subscriptions for software may seem a little overwhelming, but they are the only way to have the latest and greatest computer-aided software. — Tim Ward, Sign Solutions, Frederick, MD
  • I recently brought back the 4 x 8-ft. calendar on standoffs for the shop and sales team to schedule properly. Digital calendars are great if you’re at your desk all day. I wanted everyone to see what is scheduled. — Bobby Jordan, Fastsigns of White Marsh-Joppa, Joppa, MD
  • Never trust realtors. — Marti Etheridge, Laguna Bay Printworks, Laguna Vista, TX
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