7 Tips for an Effective Sign-Spinning Campaign

by Jan Fletcher on December 29, 2011
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Are you ready to put a little spin into your promotional efforts? Consider these seven tips if you’re considering an advertising campaign using hand-held signs — also known as “sign spinning.”

  1. Avoid spinners who use over-the-top gymnastics. Rapid sign spinning obscures readability. “The crazier the guy gets with the sign — the more he throws it through the air, spins it, and everything else — the less visible what’s on the sign becomes,” says Rob Kee (pictured below), partner of Enlarge Media Group in Huntington Beach, Calif. He says motorists have less than five seconds to read a sign. “We say, ‘Keep the sign held in such a way that every [driver] that passes by can read it, and keep it so that the arrow is pointed at the actual location the entire time.’”
  2. Grab the attention of motorists with motion — and then give a strong, succinct call to action. “What you’re really striving for is that immediate response,” says T.J. Bobay, marketing adviser for Fireleads Media in Asheville, N.C. “Use messages that really make people stop and pull over.”
  3. kee sign guyTarget impulse buyers. Snatch those on-the-go shoppers from your competitors. For example, a lunchtime sign spinner in front of a restaurant increases the chances new customers will walk in on impulse, Kee says. Larger purchases, such as automobiles, typically are not impulse buys. Even so, sign spinners may entice those already shopping for a major purchase to pull into a dealership and peruse the dealer’s current offers, he says.
  4. Skirt the local sign code. Signage regulations often do not apply to hand-held signs, because many cities have not yet passed sign-spinning ordinances, Bobay notes. “It’s a wonderful way to get around the sign code enforcement issue,” he says. Even in places with sign-spinning regulations, a crew of people smiling, waving, and wearing promotional T-shirts can get around many restrictions, Bobay says.
  5. Treat sign spinning as an art form. Use artistic expression to draw attention to your business. “What we look for are performers. We’ve had tap dancers, acrobats, and people who are into karate,” Bobay says. “We play to their strengths and let them perform.”
  6. Tailor your promotion to a specific market. Are you after weekday commuters or weekend travelers? Bobay says home construction companies tend to run weekend promotions, whereas a deli serving the lunch crowd will likely plan a sign-spinning event on weekday mornings.
  7. Weigh the risks of using employees to hold signs. Check with your insurance provider to make sure that your small business has sufficient coverage in case a mishap occurs. “Let’s say you’re a pizza restaurant owner. You have part-time employees, and not many pizzas are being ordered. If you send your guy out on the corner to hold a sign, you’re responsible for him while he’s out there,” Kee says. Employees may also find the experience humiliating, whereas professional sign spinners willingly choose to spin signs, he adds.
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