Where formerly wavers of signs were found exclusively at residential subdivision open houses and on car lots, now they are everywhere! In fact, it is hard to go down the road without seeing two or three of them trying to catch your attention by tossing a business’ sign around.
One of the earliest adopters of this marketing tactic was Liberty Tax Service. Liberty had to do something to solicit business from H&R Block, and their solution was a sign waver dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume.
AArow Advertising, a leading sign waving company, was started by two young entrepreneurs who were formerly sign wavers in 2002. They now have more than 500 employees and are franchising their operation internationally. When training their new employees, AArow emphasizes the importance of eye contact and a grin.
So why would a company hire a sign waver? Simply put, they work. Where it is easy to lose a company’s sign in a sea of static signage, a moving object attracts attention.
Sign wavers are useful when you are announcing a sale, promotion or special, are particularly beneficial with grand openings, and can be employed at trade shows and political events. Probably some of the most common users of sign wavers are the shops that buy and sell gold. Many, if not all, of these establishments have sign wavers out seemingly 24 hours a day.
In addition, businesses that suffer from a less-than-prime location can use sign wavers to help overcome the challenge of an obscured storefront. For example, a business located on a side street or the rear of a shopping center can station a sign waver on a main street for added visibility.
For those who would ask if a sign waver is truly an effective form of advertising, I would say yes. The higher your gross margin, the more attractive a tactic it is. And, where the cost can range anywhere from $30 to $75 an hour, depending on the effectiveness of the waver, many restaurants report that sign wavers bring in 10 new customers for every hour they are deployed.
But should sign wavers replace your existing advertising? An emphatic no. Sign wavers are simply one more arrow in the quiver of tools you can use to help market your business.
For the greatest results, sign wavers should drive traffic to a specific location and should be placed where there is a large volume of passing traffic.
Right now, many governments are considering eliminating sign wavers, or at the very least, imposing some pretty steep restrictions on the activity. The city of Delray Beach, for example, has prohibited sign wavers on public property, which normally includes sidewalks. My opinion on this is governments should not be allowed to affect our freedom of speech, per the U.S. Constitution. After all, just look at all the sign wavers used during political campaigns.
Now go out and evaluate if sign wavers are a tactic that can make sense for your business. Sometimes the best way to find out if something works or not is simply to try it for a day or two and see what you get.
Jerome S. Osteryoung, director of outreach services at the Jim Moran Institute in the College of Business at Florida State University, can be reached at 850-294-7477.