Signs in this digital age should also have a broader focus. In addition to the usual location and services message, today’s sign should also drive viewers to the shop’s website, Facebook page, and other on-line locations like Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. This is especially true of signs not on the shop’s physical property. Shop vehicles with printed information, or a magnetic sign, should definitely emphasize on-line connections in larger type.
The same is true if the shop invests in bus bench ads, bus ads, taxicab ads or billboards. All of the signs and ads should have the same look and feel with a prominent logo and any other images used. Some shops like to use a photo of the shop but this space could be much better used.
Signs with an emotional appeal always do better. Charities use photos of handicapped children or handicapped older people to reach viewers emotionally. Sympathy may work for them but fear is a much better target emotion for body shop sign messages. One survey found 9% of vehicle drivers text or talk on a cell phone while driving. A dramatic photo of an inverted crashed vehicle could capture attention with a message like, “This could be you. Don’t text and drive or you might be paying us a visit,” or “Don’t read this sign if we’re interrupting your text message. We’ll see you at the shop.”
One key to an effective sign is uniqueness. Check out your competition’s signs to see what you shouldn’t do. You don’t want to be sending a “me too” message. It’s pointless to emphasize quality. Everyone expects that. Emphasizing cost for self-pay prospects is fine, but is unlikely to motivate those who expect insurance to pay. One approach that isn’t often used is the collision prevention emphasis. It takes a tip from dentists who emphasize tooth care but know they’ll be fixing the teeth anyway. A shop with an adequate facility to hold a small weekly or monthly class could provide information on collision aversion and prevention. Insurance agents would be glad to speak to young drivers or students just for the exposure to new potential customers. The sign invitation message would be truly unique.
The size and location of a sign generally determines how many people see and read it. Today’s huge, digital moving signs are astonishing but also very expensive. Ten years ago I priced out a Las Vegas style moving neon sign for a shop. The cost was over $500,000. It’s probably much less today but still prohibitive for any regular sized shop. But this type of sign is worth checking out. In a location by heavy street or highway traffic this kind of sign would capture continual viewers. A while back one group of shops in the same general area pooled their resources and invested in large signage. They called themselves “Gold Class Collision Shops” and listed all locations on the signs. I was surprised by the cooperation of shop owners who were actually competing for business in that area.
There is one final concern about the message on signs and related media. Any shop with a website would like to have their site appear on Google’s or Yahoo’s first page when someone searches for a collision repair facility in their area. The search engine that weighs and evaluates the site determines in what order their site appears. My web-savvy sources tell me content on a site is very important and the keywords used in that content may determine the fate of the site when it is evaluated. If a shop has done its homework, the best keywords that people look for are known and used frequently in the site’s content. The problem is that all of the other shops doing a professional site will be using most of the same key words. Here is where a shop seeking uniqueness in signs and ads can multiply the benefit by incorporating key words and images that most other shops wouldn’t use. By approaching the content for a sign using the same basic keyword and image idea used to attract search engine recognition, it is also likely to attract a sign’s viewer and drive that viewer to look for the shop’s website.