The Exciting World of Planning and Zoning

City planning and zoning divisions can be a thorn in a marketer’s side. But if you don’t know the ordinances of your town, you could end up like this guy, who was slapped with a $500 fine for marketing with chalk on the sidewalk. The next time you have a breakthrough outdoor marketing idea that hasn’t been tried in your area, check the local codes to ensure there’s not a reason no one else is doing it.

Ordinances can be tricky, so read carefully. A client of mine is located in a township that will only allow businesses to display an outdoor banner if they are approved for a permit. The permit allows the business to display the banner for 15 days, but you can only have one permit every six months. We had to prioritize which two 15-day periods in the year were most important to the business and plan far ahead to make sure we received permit approval in time.

Dont be scared. They are just people in suits.

Don't be scared. They are just people in suits.

If you have to present your outdoor marketing plan at a council meeting, leave nothing to the imagination. Create mock-ups and show pictures from where the idea has been implemented elsewhere. You’re trying to convince a committee, so your visual evidence should be as compelling as possible. By showing council members your plan is aesthetically pleasing, you will remove their fear of marring their town’s image.

The imagination of the marketer often is at odds with the strict codes of some planning and zoning divisions, but through careful planning, you can make your outdoor marketing as effective as possible.

Marketing Podcast: Marketing for First Impressions

In this marketing podcast, I give marketing tips for making great first impressions. Your customer’s first impression could be your storefront or even your website, and what customers think determines if they will buy from you.

And I also reveal a pretty shocking first impression I’ve encountered with a local business- listen to find out!

Listen or download below:

Marketing for First Impressions

Download the Marketing for First Impressions MP3 file here. (7.9 MB)

This segment first aired during “Getting Down to Business” on Alaska’s Fox News Talk 1020.

Sign of the Times

Today’s blog post is not about Prince-¬†sorry to disappoint. Instead, it features of some of the best signs I’ve encountered around the world.

In my travels, I’ve always taken an interest in the signs that businesses use to promote themselves. A sign can be a powerful motivator for a potential customer- either to buy from you or to pass on by. Or, a sign can blend into the landscape, escaping a potential customer’s attention altogether.

These nine great signs demonstrate what make a sign effective. First up, we have the St. Louis Science Center.

This sign mirrors the shape of the Science Center. It shows that design can incorporate both creativity and functionality- it’s beautiful and easy to read. Also in St. Louis is this dramatic and interesting zoo sign.

Everyone knows what a zoo is, so the designer had a little fun with the shape and presentation of this sign. However, most businesses should follow the Shrimp Factory’s example below.

This sign shows you exactly what you will get: a seafood dinner in a classy atmosphere. Another take on the restaurant sign is this Art Deco sign for the Signature Room at the Ninety-Fifth in Chicago.

Don’t you want to eat at such a cool place?

Next up, we have a little Hebrew for you.

I may not be able to read Hebrew, but I certainly know what a giant coffee cup and arrow mean. This 3-D sign perfectly describes what you can get at this business. When it really counts, though, signs should be multilingual.

Danger. Mines.

The clever building below is a carwash, which isn’t readily apparent at first glance, so the sign is essential. I really like this company, so you might want to learn more about their business model at their website, Lighthouse Carwash Solutions.

This British tube sign makes so much more sense than the American “Exit.” What could be clearer than “Way Out?”

And I’ll leave you with this interesting sign. I can’t decide if it’s good or bad, although it’s quirky. What do you think?

“We sharpen anything but your wits,” and “We fix anything but a broken heart” are certainly interesting ways to talk about the service commodities of sharpening, repairs and key-making. Does it make you want to be their customer?