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Promising Sign

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When a store is just outside — rather than within — a large shopping center, retailers have an unparalleled chance to draw customers to their location. After all, shoppers are already in the neighborhood — they just need to travel a little further.

Appliance and electronics retailer hhgregg wanted to take advantage of just such an opportunity in Huntsville, Ala., where one of its stores sits across the street from Madison Square Mall. “We wanted to tell people [in the mall] who are interested in appliances and electronics that hhgregg is a great opportunity to shop,” says Jeff Pearson, senior vice president of marketing for the 200-plus store chain.

Several years ago, hhgregg marketers and the company’s ad agency worked with the mall to develop a way to get the message out. The mall offered hhgregg two empty walls flanking a set of escalators and “we were excited to utilize it,” Pearson says.

Removable signs
hhgregg developed signs that would take advantage of the space, which measures roughly 20 x 50 ft. on its largest side. hhgregg’s marketers used photos and measurements of the space submitted by Signs by Tomorrow in Huntsville to create a sign design that was transferred to rolls of adhesive vinyl.

Signs by Tomorrow owner Barry Bowerman and his team installed the vinyl signs during an overnight at the mall, first cleaning the walls with alcohol to ensure the adhesive would stick. (When it’s time to remove the signs, the vinyl can be warmed with a heat gun and then removed, Bowerman says. Unlike some vinyls, he says the type used here should leave the drywall intact.)

Using a boom lift, they hung each roll of vinyl, starting at the bottom of the escalator and working their way up, matching the design at every seam. Most passers-by won’t notice the lines, Bowerman says. “It’s like wallpaper in a house. If you’re looking for lines, you’ll find them. Otherwise, you won’t see them.”

What you will see: one wall featuring a montage of the products hhgregg offers, such as flatscreen TVs and washing machines. On the other, in bold red letters, shoppers see five reasons to purchase appliances and electronics at hhgregg.

“The simpler the better,” when it comes to these types of signs, Bowerman says. Potential customers don’t have much time to read, so they need to be able to grasp the general concept almost instantly. “Keep it simple and basic while still getting the message across,” he advises.

Cost-effective solution
The signs’ price tag is comparable to the cost of developing a billboard, Pearson says, although unlike many billboards there is no ongoing monthly fee.

While it’s hard to tally just how many people head to hhgregg because of the signs, a number of customers mention having seen the signs in the mall, Pearson says. In addition, employees like knowing that hhgregg is promoting itself in multiple ways.

“Our employees are excited not only that we have messaging on the outside of the store, but that we’re actually inside the mall,” he says. “It’s great visibility in front of competitors.”

The relatively low cost and longevity of the signs, along with their ability to reach thousands of people in the years they’ve been in place, have made them a valuable promotional tool. “We’re always looking for the best opportunity to promote” our stores, Pearson says, and mall signs are an important option. “Because of the amount of consumer traffic in the mall, these opportunities are effective for marketers.”