Beyond the routine magnetic sign

By signcraft

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2021

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Hand lettered by Eban Morales, Latin Dragon Graphics, Highland Park, Michigan

Magnetic signs, like any vehicle lettering, can be powerful advertising for a small business. Likewise, they can also be generic identification that lets a small business miss out on that advertising value. If not well done, they can even work against the business by creating a negative image.

They’re also the ideal solution for many clients. When permanent graphics aren’t an option, magnetics can deliver great advertising that can be installed or removed in seconds.

Bob Stephens, Skywatch Signs, Zephyrhills, Florida, upsells his clients to magnetic signs that are positive advertising whenever he can. What Bob doesn’t advocate is that a business opt for a basic set of magnetic signs, unless identification for legal purposes is all that’s required. He likes to do magnetic signs that don’t look like magnetics once they’re on the vehicle. Yes, it costs a little more, but it sends the right message to those who see his client’s vehicle.

“They can go anywhere,” he says, “and get someone to type in three lines of black Helvetica and stick it on a white magnetic rectangle. At best, that’s basic identification. At worst, it’s a visual turn-off. But either way, it’s not good advertising. It’s not creating a positive impression in the mind of the person who sees it. And it’s not memorable—no matter how many times they see it.

“I sometimes ask if they want to look generic or professional. Going around with a cheap, generic set of magnetics on your vehicle is a mistake if you want people to call you and do business with you. You’re sending a clear message about the professionalism of your business—and it’s not a good one. You want to look professional and competent, not temporary.”

In his display area, Bob has a black steel panel with four magnetic signs on it. It shows the four versions he offers: Basic, Intermediate, Custom and Deluxe. His basic version provides a clean and appealing layout, but keeps production time and materials to a minimum to keep the cost down. From there, they can choose to upgrade to something even more appealing and professional.

When they see the display, some customers decide they need the deluxe version and are willing to pay for that. Most, though, are willing to move up just a notch or two from basic. They can see the difference it makes when they spend a little more.

“People will pay more,” Bob says, “but you have to know how to sell it. You can’t expect them to just come in with a blank check, or to understand what you’re describing to them. It’s best when they can see the difference.

“For the sign shop, the goal isn’t to see if you can do a pair of magnetics for less than $49.95. The goal is to produce effective advertising for your client. A nice set of magnetic signs may sell for $250 a pair. I know that some shops advertise a low-cost set of magnetics to get people in the door, but can you really sell them for less than lettering the vehicle when you have to buy the same amount of film and also buy the magnetic material?”

Magnetic signs, of course, are meant for temporary use, and you should remind your customers of that. The door should be clean and dry before they are installed. The signs should be removed frequently, rather than left on for an extended period of time. It’s a good idea to wax the door, too. A little routine maintenance will make sure they get the most out of their great-looking magnetic signs.

SignCraft, July/August 2015

The magnetic signs shown here were done by the late Bob Stephens, Skywatch Signs, Zephyrhills, Florida, unless otherwise noted.

Digital print by Andy Bordi, Bordi Designs, Merchantville, NJ

Digital print with a vintage look by Ron Phillips, Brodhead Sign Co., Brodhead, Wisconsin

Hand lettered by Eban Morales, Latin Dragon Graphics, Highland Park, Michigan

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