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Ho-Ho-Holiday Signage for Businesses: A Guide for Boosting Sales During Peak Shopping Season

It’s almost the most wonderful time of year — especially for retailers eager to make up for lost sales during our volatile, unpredictable times. Holiday marketing strategies tend to change from year to year, but using holiday signage to boost sales tends to remain constant. Signage is an excellent way to promote sales, special pricing, new products, bundle deals, and services like free gift-wrapping or loyalty programs. And given the hectic, harried, and uncertain year we’ve all been through, your holiday signage can help to take the guesswork out of in-store shopping and ease the process of checking everyone off the holiday shopping list. Let’s look at some actionable tips you can start using today to inform your holiday signage strategy (bonus tip: these can be used across any holiday, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s).

Match Your Color Scheme to the Holiday

Your business logo and color scheme likely never change. That’s because using the same image and colors across all of your marketing and channels helps to build brand familiarity and consistency. The same is also true for your holiday signage. Opting for a signage theme instead of a hodgepodge of colors, images, and fonts can help to tie together your entire in-store signage strategy. This doesn’t mean all your signs have to look identical, but they should share similar elements, so there’s no mistaking that your signage was designed specifically for your store. Also, when you have consistency between your signs, a lot of the hard work is already done for you. This allows you to focus less on the overall design and more on the strength of your messaging. Most retailers feature different signage styles for different holidays. Try using color schemes that are popular for each holiday, such as orange, black, and purple for Halloween and red, green, gold, and silver for Christmas. This way, there’s no mistaking how your messaging and offers tie in with each holiday. Plus, it adds an element of timeliness to your marketing signage, so it doesn’t blend in with your everyday store signs.

Promote Cross-Selling and Upselling Opportunities

Cross-selling and upselling are two classic retail strategies to increase the average ticket size and boost profits. While this move is often thought to be best executed by customer-facing sales reps, it can also be accomplished through thoughtfully-crafted signage. During the holidays, especially Christmas, most shoppers are looking for two things: low prices and convenience. Offering add-ons is an excellent way to give them both. For example, if you’re offering discounts when customers buy multiples of the same item, say so with a sign. This not only helps them save money on each item but also allows them to knock out more than one gift on their shopping list. Another creative way to promote cross-selling using signage is to place similar items or complementary items together on shelves, then draw the shopper’s attention to the items with a sign. For example, a simple “Like This? Try That” message using arrows to point to the products can be a great way to introduce products that are often bought alongside or instead of other products. This can also be an effective tool when certain products have a tendency to sell out. When customers see their favorite item out of stock, you can direct them to a comparable item and save the sale. The possibilities are seemingly endless with this option. Every sale counts and even small upgrades or add-ons can add up quickly on the bottom line.

Use Signage to Simplify the Shopping Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic rages on, and there’s no sign of slowing down for the holidays. Retailers are facing an unprecedented holiday shopping experience, with many wondering what main events like Black Friday are going to look like or how holiday foot traffic will change. Consumers have their own unique concerns, too. With face mask requirements and social distancing ordinances across the country, many shoppers have reduced their public outings to only the bare necessities. And when they do go out, they want to limit their time in-store as much as possible and keep their distance from others. At least, that’s been the case for the last several months, and there’s nothing to indicate these preferences won’t continue into the holiday season. And given that stores are at their most crowded during the holidays, customers will likely have an increasing desire to get in and out of the store in record time. Signage can play an essential role in simplifying the customer experience. For example, if you have a designated holiday section, consider using floor decals to create a path that leads them there. Clearly marking each department can help customers find their way around. And if you offer special convenience services like curbside takeout or ordering online to be picked up in-store, promote these inside and outside your store using attractive signage.

Promote Your Most Profitable Products

Every retailer should know which products bring in the highest profit margin. These might not be your most expensive products, but you should try to make these products the ones you sell the most of. This is even more important during the holidays when your store has more foot traffic and more daily sales overall. Signage comes to the rescue again in capturing your shoppers’ attention. Use signs to promote the products that bring you the most profit. Display these items prominently so that shoppers see them first thing. Even better, display them alongside a more expensive comparable item so that buyers are more likely to choose the cheaper (yet more profitable) product.

Create Urgency for Limited Stock or Limited-Time Products

There’s nothing more disheartening to a holiday shopper than not being able to find something critical on their list. Maybe it’s the hottest toy of the year that every other parent is trying to grab. Or maybe it’s a specialty item at a ridiculously low price that it’s almost guaranteed to sell out. Whatever the case, retailers can demonstrate the urgent nature of these products through proper signage. For example, if an item is only available in limited quantities or a special deal will only last for a short time, let your shoppers know this. This way, they can grab their product in the moment instead of waiting to think about it and return to find the shelves wiped clean.

Promote Your Loyalty Program and Other Perks

During the holidays, most shoppers are looking to stretch their dollars as far as they will go. They want to be able to do more with their money, and a store loyalty program can provide a highly desirable way to do it. Using signage to promote your store’s loyalty or discount program is an excellent way to increase signups. This not only allows you to temporarily increase sales for the holidays but also gives you an opportunity to continue earning their loyalty after the holidays are over. If you’re offering special discounts, first looks, early access, or other perks with your loyalty program for the holidays, share these things using signage. Show how signing up for the program can help them stretch their holiday budget and get more for their money. The more you can help them connect the dots, the better chance you have of retaining their loyalty after the holiday season.

Ask Vendors to Sponsor Your Signage

Signage is an affordable marketing tool, but getting vendor sponsorship can lower the costs even more. If you have good relationships with the brands you carry, consider asking them to chip in for signage that includes their branding. It’s a win/win situation: you can lower your marketing costs, and they benefit from you selling more of their products. These types of partnerships are also integral to healthy, long-term relationships. Make sure you share your results with participating vendors, so they’ll know how well your signage campaigns worked. They’ll be more likely to chip in again in future campaigns if they know it’s worthwhile to their bottom line.

Add a Personal Element Using “You” and “Your”

Generic messages without a specific audience aren’t as impactful as messages that seem to be speaking directly to your shoppers. Adding a personal element to your signs, such as using the words “you” or “your,” can make it feel like you’re connecting with each customer. This helps them to visualize your products and put themselves into a user’s shoes. It can also create an emotional appeal that encourages action on the spot. For example, you could add signage to your dressing room mirrors that say things like “You’re a showstopper” or “You’ll turn heads everywhere,” or include a sign in your bicycle section that says things like “You’ll be their hero.” Who could resist messaging that makes people feel good about the things they’re buying?

Create Consistent Brand Messaging

Signs are, first and foremost, a marketing tool. And just like the other components in your marketing strategy, your signs should support your overall brand’s messaging. Good branding is essential to making your messages memorable. It also helps you stand out from other brands that are competing for the same audience of holiday shoppers. This is arguably one of the most common reasons when in-store signage falls shorts. Retailers that don’t somehow relate their signage to their brand in terms of messaging and appearance are missing a huge opportunity to solidify the in-store experience.

Use Signage to Decorate Your Store

Not all signage needs to have a message. In some cases, it can be used as pure decor. Consider adding vinyl decals to dress up your windows, dressing room mirrors, and doors using holiday-themed pictures instead of words. At the very least, these images can help pull shoppers into your holiday spirit and put them in the mood to shop.

Keep Your Copy Short and to the Point

  Something to keep in mind when crafting your signage copy is the length of your messages. During the holidays, shoppers are distracted and in a hurry. They’re on a mission and don’t want to spend their whole shopping trip reading signs and sifting through messages. If you want your marketing to be well understood, it’s best to keep your copy short and straight to the point. Leave no room for interpretation, but also don’t waste their time wading through too many details. Your signs are not the place to list out all the features and specs of a product. Short, impactful copy can take your strategy much further than trying to give them too much information.

Add Holiday Appeal to Your Social Distancing Signage

In a recent blog post, we covered a ton of inspiring ideas on how to use signage to encourage social distancing. Regardless of your retail business, you probably have some of these types of signage in your retail store, and those signs aren’t likely to disappear before the holidays. Between social distancing reminders and holiday signs, your shoppers will see no shortage of information. One way to prevent signage fatigue is to give your current social distancing signs a holiday upgrade. For example, if you’re using floor decals to mark out six feet intervals in the check-out lines, you can trade these signs for ones that reflect your holiday branding and color schemes. This helps to add consistency to your in-store brand image and experience. And if you’re making the switch, consider how you can add a special holiday message or offer to your new signs. If you’re selling masks, hand sanitizer, or other COVID tools, make sure you include them in your holiday signage, too. Certain items are still hard to come by for many shoppers, so promoting them can easily increase your average ticket size.

Think Outside the Storefront

Strong holiday signage strategies aren’t limited to your internal real estate. Consider how you can take your signage outdoors to spread your messages to passersby. For example, if you have windows on your storefront, consider how you can use window decals to draw traffic through your doors. You can use multiple windows to create one large sign or place something different in each window. Yard signs are a tried-and-true favorite among retailers, especially when you use a lot of them. These signs can work together to form a single message, promote discounts, or even serve as directional signage to help shoppers find your store. Best of all, you’re not limited to using them only on your own real estate. If you’ve got a deal worth sharing, work with your local municipality to see about placing signs on busy street corners. Other ideas to inspire your outside-the-store signage strategy include:
  • Full door decals
  • Signs posted with local businesses
  • Sidewalk “sandwich” boards in front of your store
  • Sidewalk graphics
  • Outdoor banners
Keep in mind that your outdoor signage may serve a very different purpose than your in-store signage. Instead of focusing on specific deals (unless it’s THE hottest item of the season and you have a bunch of it), try opting for more of a mass appeal (e.g., Entire Store 25% off). Another idea is if you have a special buy that you want to move quickly, such as fresh-cut Christmas trees or a free gift with purchase. Many retailers use outdoor signage to communicate important messages that have nothing to do with sales. For example, if you’ve extended your store hours for the holidays or offer free gift wrapping, let it be known via a large banner or window graphic.

Work with a Professional Designer

To make your brand stand out, consistent design across all of your signage is a great way to drive your message home. To do this well, consider partnering with a professional designer that can create something original, unique, and engaging. Once the basic designs are created, you can apply them in different ways using different sizes and types of signage. For example, a designer might create an image, frame, or icon that you can use for floor decals, shelf signs, hanging signs, and window decals.

Start Your Holiday Signage Strategy Early

Did you know that roughly 40% of consumers start holiday shopping before Halloween? Regardless of whether you feel that’s too early or right on time, it would help if you start your signage strategy as early as possible. This is because all that copywriting, design work, and printing takes time to finalize! This is the time of year when all retailers are doubling down on signage and other marketing elements, so the earlier you can order yours, the more likely you will get your signage delivered on time. Even if you aren’t ready to use it, at least you can have it in hand and ready to display the moment you flip the holiday switch. At AlphaGraphics, we’re already in full holiday signage mode and ready to add your projects to our printing lineup. Contact us today for a quote or to explore your signage options.

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