Nefarious and useless piles of advertising have started creeping up in my town. Yard signs, by those I mean the little 17″x17″ish poly signs on wire stuck in the ground. The other, sign shakers, the guys on the corners doing the “Electric Bogaloo” with a sign for a business to get your attention.

Now let me say right off the bat, these things have their purpose and a place. All advertising has a purpose and a place. I had to make that clear so when I get “guerrilla advertising” hate mail. I can say, “Did you read the whole thing?” Now that is over let me tell you how I feel about these two, advertising gems…

The yard sign is a long standard method of the real estate agent. They are the masters for the most part of these. Plain and simple easy to read signs, not a boatload of information, just the basics. Up here we have a coffee shop called “YAKS” they ran a brilliant campaign before they opened with yard signs with things like “What the heck is a YAKS?” Simple, bold and legible. Brilliant! The down side is, everyone knows how well these worked for YAKS and now they all want to do yard signs, even the our chamber of commerce. They have taken to promoting their 2009 business expo with yard signs. Not just any yard sign, but one with a logo, dates and a bunch of verbage that you can’t read until you stand 3ft away from it. It fails in a huge, huge gigantic way. Did I mention it fails on all levels in a gigantic way? If you are asking why it fails, I’m gonna scream! But just in case you don’t get why, I will tell you. The first thing is the simplest, when you have a small space and moving readers, less is best! Not better, but best! The second reason is that to truly make them work you need an element of surprise. Like, “What the heck is a YAKS” leave the reader wondering, confused, questioning. Even more so questioning when they appear all over town, with small variations of the same message.
Now on to the street corner plague, Sign Shakers! I don’t really have much of an issue with them really. For the most part they are entertaining and active. Though, I have seen a few really lazy ones on their cells, sign pointing the wrong way and generally lethargic. The problem with them with the sign shakers is partially the same thing that has happened with the yard signs. Bad sign design and being that we talked about that up above, we won’t go into it again. The other thing is also partially the same as above; everyone now thinks they are a good idea. If you are a mover, shaker kind of business with some energy to what your product is, then by all means use them! But if you are a granite place, you probably shouldn’t. It doesn’t fit with your demographic, psychographic or any graphic you are to pick, except for copycataphic. Wow I just made up a horrible new word!
So the point you ask? Just because one form of advertising works well for some businesses, does not mean it will work well for you!