By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
How to make your on-premise practice sign recruit new patients
One of the best long-term marketing tools for any consumer-direct practice is, unfortunately, often neglected or under-utilized.
It’s easy to overlook the powerful effectiveness of an on-premise sign. And far and away, it can be the best Return-On-Investment (ROI) for your location.
The main reason? You only have to pay for it once. Once your sign begins working, it is like a never-ending annuity.
Here are several of useful tips to get the most from this opportunity.
Before you buy the property, sign the lease, or renew your lease, carefully consider ways to make your office sign a workhorse for your facility. If you are in a consumer-direct specialty, signage can be such a critical issue that you may want to pass on locations where adequate signage is not available.
Called property, business, tenant or leasehold signage, this is the one or more message areas that are visible to the general public as they pass your location. It might be a “building mounted” sign or a “freestanding” or “monument” sign at the entrance or near a major intersection. It may have one face, or two or more message faces.
Identify all sign location options. If you don’t have at least one good sign opportunity, it may not be the best location for a consumer-direct provider. But think beyond just one…there are usually several options. Can vehicle or pedestrian traffic see your location from more than one direction and/or more than one entrance? Prioritize.
Walk and drive the property. Go up and down the street-several times, all directions, both day and evening-as the passing general public will be doing-and look carefully at your present sign or prospective sign locations. Snapshots will be helpful reference.
Plan for visibility and legibility. Consider sign size, letter height, placement, shape, lighting and surroundings. You want your message to be noticed and stand out among other signs and from the general background. Avoid any message-blocking obstructions. Consider how to illuminate the sign during evening hours…usually a good idea at least for a few hours after sunset.
First impressions are important. If all that the public knows about you is the appearance of your sign, they will judge your practice on the quality it sees in the sign. Aesthetics, choice of colors, use of white space, avoiding clutter, should all speak professionalism.
Use a benefit-driven message. This can be a personal and a creative challenge, but the message-the right message-is where your sign makes money. It’s a personal challenge if the sign is simply the doctor’s name. Like it or not, a personal name is not what’s important to the public. It’s all about what you can do for them. Think benefit. The creative challenge is that available space is limited.
Keep the message short and simple. Regardless of the physical space allowance, the passing public can’t read a lengthy message. In one, two or maybe three words: What do you do (that improves the health and/or happiness of a patient)? What’s in it for them? If you do many things, say what’s of interest to the most people, and educate them about other details when they come in.
Shop for experienced help at a good price. An office sign can be a big investment that lasts for years. So in addition to a competitive cost estimate, be sure that the company that will fabricate the sign has experience, good references, and knows about compliance with regulations, building codes, property standards…and will deliver and install the work on time.
Bonus Tips: For even more mileage…
Consider a large temporary exterior sign/banner. Your new permanent sign may take several weeks to design, fabricate and install. Put up a large temporary banner in the meantime. This attracts attention and new patients — helpful if your office is open before your regular sign is ready.
Investigate secondary signage opportunities. Look for additional sign possibilities such as “wayfinding” signs approaching the building, in or near the lobby, hallway or elevator. Make them durable and professional in appearance, even if done with temporary permission.
Don’t use handmade, paper or cheap-appearing signs. Inside the office or outside, no matter how well-intended, signs that look unprofessional reflect poorly on you. (Some genuine emergency messages are the exception, of course.) Think twice about “riot act” messages such as “have your insurance card ready” or “sign-in and wait.” If the message is truly worthy of a sign, present the message in a friendly tone of voice, with the right choice of words and the right size, placement and construction.