Sold On A Sign

October 9, 2012

My rotting backyard fence finally blew over in a windstorm last May, leaving a gaping hole on the north side of my property.

For months, I relied on an ugly green mesh temporary fence to keep my dog from wandering around while out doing his “business.” When I finally pulled the trigger to rebuild a full cedar fence, it became clear that I also needed to start from scratch on a brand new garage. With a cracked foundation, a tendency to flood in the lightest rainstorm and wood siding that was literally rotting off the frame, it was time to make the call.

READY FOR DEMO: My former garage, with my former fence piled up and ready for removal.

Last week, the garage was torn down and the concrete excavated. For now, I’m the proud owner of a beautiful cement slab, just waiting for a new two-car structure to be built.

The beginning of the end – the garage goes down.

The reason for all this backstory is this: When I finally accepted that it was time to give a new garage the green light, the method I used to select a builder, in hindsight, feels really odd. I drove one of my usual routes through the Nokomis neighborhood to get on the highway and spotted a stupid little lawn sign posted on a nearby boulevard. A lawn sign. That’s all it took to suck me in and commit to a $19,000 home improvement.

Now, of course I got an estimate and did a little Googling to learn more about what I wanted. But I have to admit that almost everything that went into deciding the company I’d hire came down to that 24” x 36” piece of cardboard.

So I did just a bit of research and found that while there are a number of lawn sign printers/producers, it appears to be a very unsophisticated industry. Some companies’ sights give tips on how to create an eye-catching sign. Others advise on writing can’t-miss copy. But that’s about it.

The sign that sold me. Yep, that’s all it took.

On the whole, it feels like the marketing forces behind killer lawn signs leave a lot to be desired.

But maybe that’s OK. When you consider that painters and contractors probably are the source of most non-political lawn signage, the proof is sort of in the pudding. While the garage-builder’s sign may have caught my eye, I certainly checked out their handiwork in the alley. A painter’s work (exterior, anyway) is on display for all to see, so you can quickly evaluate if they provide quality service.

And then there’s the implied endorsement that comes with a neighbor essentially recommending a product or service just by allowing that sign to sit idly on their lawn. In the end, it actually seems kind of powerful, if not entirely creative, marketing vehicle. As evidence the signs must be working, another Pony (Allison) recently had her roof replaced and was offered a $1,000 discount(!) if she agreed to post the roofer’s sign in front of her home. Not a bad trade-off.

As someone who has been heavily swayed into a high-priced purchase by such a simple marketing mechanism, I’d love to know your take, Peepshow readers. Have lawn signs led your decision-making process in the past? Have you ever purchased something – especially something big – from a simple sign? Or am I just a really easy sell?