Signs Sell - Book Review

Bicycle sign for bike rental against blue sky, California, USA
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Signage is the most misunderstood, underutilized tool available to retailers today. Strong statement from the authors of Signs Sell: Harnessing the Power of Your Interior Advertising. This book, the only of its kind for retailers, outlines the principles and strategies for getting the most out of our your retail signage. In other words, how can your signs make your store money?

The ideas in this book are based on research from several studies including one by Brigham Young University.

The studies tested merchandise that was signed versus merchandise that was not signed and found a 20% difference in sales between the items. In other words, the merchandise that was signed outsold the merchandise that was not by 20%. But, it gets even better. Full-priced merchandise that signed outperformed sale-priced merchandise that was not signed by 18%! Those are two amazing statistics that illustrate the power of signage. 

As retailers, the only ideas that we care about are ones that make us money and this is one that can and does so with immediate results. The authors share examples of stores they worked with experiencing immediate sales increases due to proper signage. Signage truly is the silent salesperson in the store - at least it is if you use it that way state the authors. 

The book outlines principles for good quality signs including rules for fonts, copy, colors and sizes.

This section of the book was written with FastSigns, the nation's largest sign manufacturer. In fact, the CEO of FastSigns wrote an endorsement on the back of the book citing her company's own experiences in the power of signage. 

"Signs are funny. You never notice them until they are not there," says Matthew Hudson, one of the books co-authors.

"We never think about the value of signs or how dependent we really are on them until they are not there. Customers constantly list lack of signage or bad signage as one of their biggest complaints with retail stores," shared Matthew. 

The authors present a four-part formula for ensuring you have the best signs in your store. They call it the ISEE formula (citing the fact that when people are introduced to the principles of quality signage, they often say, "oh, I see!") The I stands for Inform. These signs help the customer find his or her way around the store, but also explain what the product will do for the customer - the what's in it for me part. 

The S stands for Sell. These are signs that "sell" your merchandise. They do this through pricing, but more importantly compelling reasons to buy. For example, made in the USA is a popular Sell sign. 

The first E stands for Educate. These are signs that educate the customer. Hudson believes the key to success for independent retailers is education of the customer. "The store needs to be seen as the local expert on what they are selling," said Hudson. "Then and only then can they compete with the big box and online retailers." 

The second E stands for Entertain.

People buy more if they are happy states the book and entrain signs help put the customer in a good, happy mood. 

This book also explores the concept of customer experience in the stores. Dubbed "experience engineering" the author predicts that experiences will be the new products in retail stores. 

Signs Sell is a full-color book with tons of examples of good and bad signs to help guide the reader along. It is full of examples and stories to support the claims in the book. The authors have over 50 years of combined retail experience and with the support of FastSigns have crafted a "must have" book for all retailers. 

To read more on some of the signage principles outlined in the book, check out these articles:

Why Signs Sell