The Importance of Signage
We just closed down our U-Pick sunflower field for the year. The petals have fallen and the beautiful flowers have gone to seed. I was blown away by the turn out and interest we experienced this first year. With little advertising investment and a low traffic location I expected maybe a handful of neighbors might wander over and pick a bouquet or two. But to my surprise, every weekend we had a steady stream of pickers and a handful of customers each weekday.
On the topic of signage…in many ways the sunflower field was planted as a “sign”. We hoped that a field full of 6 foot tall, bright yellow flowers might bring attention to our main attraction; our U-Pick lavender coming next year. And indeed it did! I’m looking forward to what next year will bring as our little farm continues to grow.
Our sunflower field was not only U-Pick, but self serve. We decided that for $1 a flower, it wasn’t worth our time to sit for hours out in the field waiting for customers to arrive. Our time was worth more than any losses we may incur due to dishonesty.
We also thought it important for our customers to have an experience. I wanted them to feel as though they were able to wander and sit and relax and not have an employee hovering over.
Because our customers were on their own to navigate the sunflower picking experience we had to make sure that things were organized, clear and simple in our absence.
Even if your farm isn’t self serve, things need to be obvious. In the word of entrepreneurial coach Marie Forleo,
“A confused mind always says no.”
Which means, people are more likely to back away from a sale if they don’t understand, or are frustrated by lack of clarity.
Here are some signage tips to help you prepare for customers.
Make/buy the best sign in your budget
If that means it’s a piece of foam core stapled to a wooden post then so be it. But make it the best foam core sign you can make. Write clearly and large. Make it neat, use a ruler if necessary. Each element of your farm makes up the experience for your customers. You want things to appear as though they’ve been done with care and pride.
Professionally made signs can be expensive so if you go this route, take time and make sure you cover all wordage before submitting your design. If possible, leave off things like dates so the sign can be used from year to year. For example, we were going to make a sign that said “Sunflower Opening 2017” and instead made one that says “Opening Soon” So we can use the sign in years to come to announce the coming sunflower or lavender season.
Be thorough, but not wordy
People want to know how your farm works, but they don’t want to have to read a novel. Make signage concise.
Say what you need to in as few words as necessary. Use pictures if possible. “A picture says a thousand words!”
You might think something is obvious, but take nothing for granted. Many times we’re knee deep in our own projects. It fills our minds and we’re very close to the system. Things seem obvious because we know the property and product very intimately. We have in our heads how we see things running. When we invite others onto our farms and to take part in our services/products they aren’t as invested in the system of how things work.
If there’s any doubt…put up a sign. You may have cleared an area for parking and think…people will obviously see that this is a parking spot.
We did that, and people were parking on the road. When we put up a parking sign, the road parking stopped.
Signage makes your job easier
When you’re working with your customers you want to be in the moment talking about your product and letting people experience what you have to offer. Being pulled in 10 different directions answering questions about logistics can be overwhelming and take the fun out of your work. Make signs for the boring stuff ex. parking, directions, pricing, where lines should form, hours etc. And save your energy on engaging with your customer’s experience.
Pretend you’re a customer
When we set up our sunflower field we went on a dry run. We pretended that we’d never been to our farm and were interested in picking sunflower. We all got in the truck and drove 100 yards to the field entrance. We drove past quickly to see if our signs were visible from both directions. We parked in the “parking lot” got out and tried to think if there would be any questions about how picking worked.
If you’re setting up at a farm stand, go around the other side of the table. Approach your booth from both sides of the stand. Does your product stand out? Is it clear what you’re selling? Is the name of your farm visible?
Do you keep getting asked the same question over and over?
Do your customers keep asking the same question? Maybe you need to clarify with signage.
One question we kept getting asked was “What constitutes a stem?” Originally our sign read $1 a stem or 6 for $5. Then we realized that many of our sunflower varieties have multiple blooms coming from one stem. Technically, you could cut one 6 foot stem and go home with 10 blossoms. So we changed the sign to say “flower”. This way customers cut long stems off of the larger parent stem and counted the actual sunflower head as 1 item.
Style, size color and font
Much of this has to do with personal preference and the overall look of your brand. But be sure when making signs that they need to be large enough for people to read easily. Use fonts that are not overly ornate or difficult to read. Bold- Times Roman type fonts are best. Use bright or contrasting colors to catch attention.