Can a Changeable-copy Sign Help a Business?

A car wash in California had a two-color, freestanding, rectangular ground sign. It replaced it with a sign of the same proportion, which constituted a multi-color, dimensional cabinet sign on a pole and a manual, changeable-copy sign below it. The sign cost $15,000.

In the first year after the new sign was installed, gross revenue for the car wash increased by $135,000 — 900% of the cost of the sign. A licensed appraiser said that the overall value of the sign was $340,000. The full story and detailed appraisal formulae were published in the September 1999 issue of Signs of the Times magazine.

How Do to “Impulse” Buys Relate to Signs?

An “impulse” purchase is distinguished from a “destination” purchase. If you get into your car to specifically go to the hardware store, everything you buy there is a “destination” purchase because it’s why you drove your car. However, if, on your way home, you see a convenience-store sign that says “All two-liters $1,” and you stop to buy some, that’s an impulse buy. You made the purchase on impulse, and the sign’s information compelled you to stop and make the purchase.

How important are impulse buys to various businesses? You probably never saw a sign for a dentist’s office and decided to drop in. But if you’re traveling, unless you already have a reservation to lodge and/or eat, virtually every “stop” would be an impulse buy. You wouldn’t know to stop unless a sign informed you about available goods and/or services.

The Institute of Traffic Engineers estimates the following to represent impulse buys as a percentage of overall sales for various retail categories:

For a discussion about how a court case highlighted the effects of signs and impulse buys, see the entry in this section entitled “What happened in the Denny’s v. Agoura Hills Pole-sign case?”.

Do Signs Help Non-profit Charities Raise More Money?

A Goodwill Industries store in Sarasota, FL was underperforming, even though it was located at an intersection through which 100,000 vehicles traveled on a daily basis. Other entities at the same intersection included a Wal-Mart, a Home Depot, a chain motel and a hospital/medical complex.

Unfortunately, a canopy of trees blocked the Goodwill’s wall sign, and a Sarasota ordinance forbade tree removal.  The Goodwill store’s administrator had a county commissioner ride with him in a car, and the commissioner acknowledged that both the building and signage were obscured. A variance was granted, and one sign was moved to a more visible location, which was better, but still less than ideal.

The results?
Typical monthly donations had been 309. After the sign was moved, these increased to an average of 424, a 37% increase. Typical sales had been $4160 per month. After the sign was relocated, the average became $5215, a 25% increase.

How quickly did this occur?
In the first week, donations increased by 2.8%, and sales increased by 6.5%. In Week 2, donations increased by 36.9%, and sales increased by 28.2%. By Week 5, donations had risen by 45.0%, and sales jumped by 25.8%. Overall, in the first year, donations increased by 45.5%, and sales rose by 22.8%.

What about adding an electronic billboard to a non-profit?
The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (CT) hosts a 36-hour online fundraiser called the Great Give®.  To bolster its 2015 campaign, this consortium of more than 300 local charities purchased  month-long advertising (several times per day for 10 seconds) on an electronic digital billboard located near a confluence of I-91 and I-95, where (fortunately for the charity), traffic congestion is common.

The results?
Money raised from the prior year increase by 65% to $1.3 million, whereas the original goal for the year had been $1 million. More than 7000 donors provided more than 9600 gifts.

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