I started working for Office Sign Company a little over 18 months ago. I knew nothing about signs at the time, nor did I have a great grasp on who my new employer was. Of course, I did my research – I learned that Office Sign Company had recently won “Small Business of the Year” honors at the FMWF Chamber Choice Ceremony, I read up on the story of how Ryan Fritz started a small print shop in his basement, and I grew familiar with the products offered on their (now, our) website. However, I was still being thrust into a position at a company I knew little about, and was suddenly in charge of selling Office Sign Company to prospective clients in our region. Headache ensued.
But after some Tylenol, and many hours spent shadowing my coworkers, I started to pick out what made this company special. Coming straight from my marketing classes in college where I learned all about the importance of a company’s USP (look it up), I was developing my own unique way of selling Office Sign Company to those who I would encounter. Without even realizing it, I had begun selling my new place of employment to all of my friends and family.
“Dude, it’s awesome,” I’d say to my roommates, “we don’t only sell signs, but we make sweet coasters and mugs and stuff, too.”
Herein brings my first selling tactic.
#1: Get my foot in the door with a product that’s easier for them to relate to.
Let’s be honest, there’s not a constant need for new signage within every building. When do people mainly need new signs? (Well, scratch that, some signs are hideously antiquated). When do people mainly think they need new signs? What I’ve found are that there are three times in which people decide that new signage is required: (a) during a rebrand, (b) when moving to a new location, or (c) when simply looking to spice up the aesthetic in their office. My point is this: a company will only invest in a large amount of new signage about once every 3-5 years. In between that period of time, you need to keep them excited about other products that your company can offer. Here are some of the products that help me get my foot in the door with prospective clients:
- Custom coffee mugs
- Coaster sets
- Plaques, trophies, & awards
- Stickers, decals, & window cling
- Banners & trade show setups
- Custom engravings
- Etched glassware
- T-shirts & apparel
Although a great sign is super sexy (seriously), I had to realize that the beauty of signage is less overt to many individuals, even the purchasing agents at companies who were tasked with the project of procuring more office signs. It was much easier to introduce people to objects they were familiar with (like those listed above), so they would remember the name Office Sign Company down the road when they actually needed to roll out signs for their new re-brand or change of location.
#2: Show them what makes us unique.
Now, I require a little help from my coworkers on this one. Having never experienced a culture quite like ours – one that’s filled with devoted workers, who also know how to have a good time off-the-clock – I was pretty taken aback by how much I liked coming to work. Between going on surveys, learning more about our equipment, and enjoying the perks of “Beer O’Clock” on Friday afternoon, it didn’t take me too long to really get invested in this new company I worked for. I could tell something was unique and special about Office Sign Company.
The more education I received on the sign industry, the more I was able to expand my understanding of the uniqueness of our business. For one, we boasted an industry-leading turnaround time. Most print companies are about a 7-10 day turnaround on standard product offerings, whereas our company makes sure to push out standard products within 2 days. Bulk orders and custom substrates would sometimes elongate that threshold, but the vast majority of our products that we offer online do ship out within 2 days. We also make everything from scratch. We try to rely as little on outside vendors as possible to produce our finished goods; virtually everything we sell is manufactured within the 27,000 sq. ft. we call home. We offer free digital proofing and no additional charges on design work for the majority of our products. Of course, logo design & redraws will always come with a fee, but we employ seven remarkably talented graphic designers who work effortlessly to ensure our customers’ satisfaction on all their signage designs. Digital proofs are sent via email and must be approved before an order goes into production. This helps validate the work we do for our customers, and minimize the amount of reproductions our company inherits. Finally, and trust me this is as important for our customers as it is for our employees, our team really enjoys working here. We were awarded the “Best Employee Recognition” Award by TinyPulse (a culture-building software company) for the amount of “cheers for peers” that our employees send to one another. We also get paid days away from the office to participate in the OSClympics, go watch a RedHawks baseball game, and engage in team-building activities at our retreats or the Chamber Cup. These efforts culminate to create an environment that employees want to actively engage with and give back to. Happy employees = happy customers.
All of these factors and more combine to make Office Sign Company one of the more unique businesses in town, and certainly in the sign industry. I love to talk about the areas that set us apart from other companies, not only by discussing our production capabilities, but also by letting them in on the fun team that I get to work with everyday.
#3: Align our organization with community initiatives.
It’s as simple as this: people like to spend their money with companies that do good by their community.
The photo above is from our OSC Garage Sale in October 2016. We had hundreds of signs that were used for photo shoots & samples that were piling up in our office. Unsure what to do with these signs, and too proud to throw them away, we decided to open up our garage in the backside of our building to the community and host this unique Garage Sale. All signs were “name your price,” and all proceeds (literally, every dollar we raised) were given to our local United Way chapter. In a little over three hours, we raised $700 for a fantastic local organization.
This photo signifies another great initiative that our team led. In June 2016, we partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association of MN-ND to offer custom mugs that aimed at raising awareness for the importance of early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease. Our “Know the Signs” campaign included the selling of these awareness mugs, donating funds from the sale of each mug, and on June 21st (“The Longest Day”), we also donated 10% of our total revenue from that day’s sales to the Alzheimer’s Association. Total, we were able to raise over $2,500 for a great cause.
But showing support for one’s local community doesn’t only consist of throwing dollars at non-profit organizations. More importantly, it’s the mindset of supporting others that are doing great things in your community. That’s why over the last year our company has sponsored more than 30 local organizations, initiatives, and individuals through the allocation of either product or monetary resources. We’ve also volunteered for the likes of Prairie Public, the Salvation Army, and United Way’s Day of Caring. Finally, we’ve viewed ourselves as a lending hand for our local counterparts in the for-profit business community, sharing ideas and resources with some great companies that we align ourselves with.
Supporting local everything has definitely instilled a sense of pride among our employees, and has also caught the attention of a variety of other local businesses. We love giving back to Fargo in any way we can. For an expanded list of our community involvement, visit here.
So there you have it, my 3-step guide to successfully selling Office Sign Company to prospective clients. I don’t believe in selling people a product they won’t like or won’t need; Rather, I would love to sell them on the contributing factors that make our company so special, because then our products will sell themselves.
Written by Jack Yakowicz
Marketing Manager for Office Sign Company
Contact at email@example.com