What are the most effective marketing channels to achieve footfall for your marketing suite?

The days of the deals-on-wheels style portacabin as a place for negotiations have well and truly vanished. And the property industry is leading the way in developing beautifully designed marketing and sales suites to create a customer experience that reflects a new housing or apartment development. Developers are essentially selling a lifestyle and to do this, they need to make their customers feel special.

Marketing suites play an essential role in communicating the look and feel of a finished site; ensuring all touchpoints are spot-on by creating an immersive and interactive experience. They can also incorporate show apartments, 3D models, private meeting rooms, refreshment areas and closing rooms. An effective marketing suite makes potential buyers feel a connection to the development and its surrounding environment, as well as gaining trust in the developer and their service levels.

We recently conducted our annual customer satisfaction survey; essential to us to ensure our reputation and service levels remain strong. Our customers include nationwide and local property developers, housing associations, construction companies and creative agencies. As part of the survey, we also asked them to share insights into the channels that achieved the most footfall to their marketing suites. Here are the top three results:

Online and signage top the charts

First – Website (29%)
Second – External signage (24%)
Joint Third – Hoarding and Social media (both 17%)

The top spot isn’t entirely surprising, since we’re naturally used to interacting with digital technology for research and other practical purposes. Marketing focus is now, crucially, targeted at digital channels and making sure your website and social media channels are optimised and regularly updated is critical to maximise conversion rates.

It’s also interesting (and of course pleasing to us!) that one of the oldest forms of marketing – signage – is still considered vital in prompting the desired audience action… getting people through the door of your selling space. It shows that offline brand touchpoints are just as important when creating a marketing strategy across multiple channels.

If you’d like to find out more about creating a great customer journey, please visit our marketing suite page, our site signage page or our site hoarding page. If you’d like to discuss a project, please get in touch on 01252 336000 or email [email protected]

Five steps to the perfect marketing suite

Marketing Suites

Most new developments will require a dedicated marketing and sales space in which to engage with potential buyers. A marketing suite is your showroom – possibly even before you even have anything to show. We know that creating the perfect environment and optimising selling space is central to generating more leads for a new development, so we’ve put together our top five steps to creating a relaxed and comfortable environment for prospective buyers:

1. Start with the customer journey – during the planning phase, carefully consider how you’ll lead potential buyers through to your marketing suite. Elements like clear external signage and hoarding, the path around the site, inviting directional signage, a convenient car park, external lighting and landscaping can all be used to lead people in. 

Once inside, incorporate a reception and refreshment area with development models, interactive displays and brochures. When people are further along in the customer journey, they’ll want to view finishes, such as kitchens, carpets and tiles to get a taster of the style of the development and help them in their selection, so make sure you include space for this. 

Consider the route you’ll take to get people to the show house or apartment when it’s ready – this needs to be just as appealing to make sure they don’t feel like they’re stumbling through a building site. Finally, make sure you have an appropriate space in which final negotiations can take place.

2. Showcase the development’s brand – for a great first impression, the interior décor must be warm and comfortable – as well as an attractive and aspirational environment – to appeal directly to your demographic. Whether the finish of your marketing suite is luxury or affordable, or has quirky or traditional styling, will depend on the target audience. To maintain brand consistency, the choice of elements like furniture and technology should also reflect the development.

3. Tell your story – alongside your website, a marketing suite is a crucial tool in telling your development’s brand story. Make sure you do this with clarity and consistency. Intrigue the audience with informative wall graphics, interactive displays with CGI images, or a 3D development model to answer key considerations. You’ll need to communicate information like: the size of properties, how many are available, what the site plans look like, how far the nearest station is, what schools are in the area, the selling points of local amenities and restaurants, the development story, or the history of the area. 

4. Function as well as form – marketing suites aren’t always the largest spaces, so don’t forget about practical considerations to working effectively. If your sales team has a good experience of working in the space, this will translate to buyers. Avoid clutter with built-in storage for bags or brochures. Think about formal and informal areas – you may need a relaxed seating area, as well as a private room for sales negotiation. Keep staff facilities, like the cloakroom, kitchen or toilet out of sight. You should also provide hi-vis jackets and hard hats and keep them in a tidy area.

5. Meticulous project management – working on a live construction site is not always easy, so excellent project management will be key to the success of your marketing suite build. Depending on the size and scope of the marketing suite and fit-out, from instruction to design, survey, artwork, production and installation can take anything from three weeks to six months. A good project manager will build strong relationships with the site and construction teams and maintain clear channels of communication. 

This will be a public space within a building site, so make sure you work with a company that adheres to strict health and safety guidance for peace of mind. Finally, it’s important to choose a consultative partner you can trust to find practical and cost-effective solutions to any issues that occur – rather than promise you they won’t happen in the first place.

Reade Signs project manages the design and build of marketing suites to help customers visualise their new home. We do this for leading housing associations and property development companies – both one-off projects or nationwide roll-outs. Please visit our dedicated marketing suite page if you’d like to find out more. If you’d like to discuss a project, please call us on 01252 336000

 

How to make an impact with extra height hoarding

Extra height site hoarding is a great way to help your new development stand out on a busy street. 

Each standard site hoarding panel is 1220mm x 2440mm. However, adding height at high footfall points and corners is a great way of achieving additional stand-out, especially alongside flagpoles and gantry signs.

Using materials like Foamex to extend the canvas of the hoarding up to double height really helps to highlight messages above daily traffic and is very cost-effective. Make sure you consider factors such as health and safety, wind loading and structural calculations.

If you’d like to find out more about extra height building site hoarding and any considerations that need to be taken into account, please call us for a chat on 01252 336 000.

Top ten site hoarding design tips

construction site hoarding
When it comes to advertising hoarding, simple messaging and bold design is the key to attracting attention and generating enquiries. We’ve put together our top ten site hoarding design tips to help you maximise awareness of your new development and boost visits to your marketing suite: 1. Establish a budget – this will help to guide your creative team from the outset and means your designers can tailor the hoarding design to make the most of your budget. It’s also important to consider which cladding you’ll use to reflect your development. Dibond cladding is ideal for most developments and vinyl wrapped ply is excellent if you want to achieve a more polished look. 2. Site survey – to make sure the hoarding fits in well with the surroundings, we recommend you have a site survey. This will consider gradients and permanent elements, using exact measurements that can be built into the design: you don’t want a web address obscured by a post box, and any horizontal designs might look messy on a hill. Make sure your survey also incorporates factors such as health and safety, wind loading and structural calculations. 3. Consider the target market – awareness of the target audience for your development will guide any imagery and graphics you select to represent your brand and help them visualise themselves in their potential new home. 4. Less is more – your key messages should pop out of the hoarding from a distance, so it’s important not to clutter hoarding and leave some space. Great images will support your brand and make sure you include key contact information and a call to action. You will need to convey messages in seconds, especially if people are driving past. 5. Brand consistency – keep hoarding design consistent with other channels and marketing, such as site signage, flags, gantry signs, your marketing suite, website or advertising. 6. Keep it fresh – refresh hoarding periodically with bold colour changes to emphasise development phases, such as plots reserved, or sales achieved. Make sure it’s kept well maintained and repaired if it suffers any damage. 7. 24/7 advertising – consider day and night-time passing traffic – both on foot or in vehicles – and make sure your hoarding design works hard at all hours and drives people to your website and marketing suite. Header and kicker LEDs can help this, as can lightboxes that showcase the décor. 8. Spotlight your logo – whether you’re a national developer or specialise in high-end bespoke builds, you need to make sure your logo is at the right scale to aid recall. As part of the design, you may consider having your logo in illuminated letters or a light box, both of which are very striking. 9. Sell the location – being sympathetic to the local area and considering the surrounding buildings when designing your hoarding is also important. Complimenting the neighborhood through your creative – whether the development is in an urban location or set within a historical market town – can help to sell what’s unique and attractive about the area. 10. Reach for the sky – standard site hoarding panels are 1220mm x 2440mm. But within your design it’s worth considering adding height at high footfall points and corners – a great way of achieving additional stand-out, especially alongside flagpoles and gantry signs. If you’d like to find out more, we have a dedicated page about building site hoarding. Please call us for a chat if you’d like to discuss a project on 01252 336 000.

From paintbrushes and ply: the evolution of a signage company

Since Reade Signs was founded in 1980, the once time-intensive craft of sign writing has changed beyond recognition. Hand-made signs have morphed into large-format branded graphics produced using the latest printing technology. Hand tooling has been replaced by CNC machines. And health and safety requirements mean ladders are out and cherry pickers are in. Here, we look back at the early days of Reade Signs and reflect on what has – and hasn’t – changed about the signage industry.

£100 and a few tins of paint

Andy Reade, CEO, founded Reade Signs from his spare bedroom with £100, a few tins of paint and a couple of sheets of plywood. After leaving school he became an apprentice sign writer for a local one-man-band sign company, eventually moving to the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough. A lack of fulfilling work spurred Andy into action and he started to take extra jobs at the weekends and evenings, soon building a customer base and eventually setting up on his own.

Sign writing is a true skill. In the early days, Andy hand-painted timber signs, shop front fascia signs, vehicles and all types of different surfaces, including glass, painted timber and metal using specialist paints and traditional techniques. There were cut vinyl letter systems available, but back in the 1980s, these systems were basic with limited fonts and slow production times. However, the systems improved quickly, and the writing was literally on the wall for hand painted signage as a mass production method.

During the first three years, Andy moved from back-bedroom to garden workshop crafting signs for shop fronts, vehicles, job boards, builders and pubs – enjoying the variety of jobs and clients. As the business grew, Andy took on an apprentice himself and after ten years, Reade Signs moved to its first premises in Ash Vale, followed by several more moves as the business quickly expanded.

Roots and wings

It was during this time that Andy Fergus Smith joined, bringing a complementary set of skills to the team to help the company grow. Originally a graphic designer, he ran his own screen print business for 12 years before joining Reade Signs in 2002 as production manager. He was involved in graphic design, account management, operational and general management before becoming Director and shareholder in 2008.

In 2003, Reade Signs moved to its current two-floor office space and factory at Holder Road in Aldershot. At the time there were 15 employees, and this has now grown to over 40; with specialist teams bringing wide-ranging skills, qualifications and knowledge and including some loyal, long-standing employees and members of the Reade family.

Rapid developments in technology meant that sign writing evolved and expanded. The lines blurred between print and sign making and the possibilities for large format outdoor graphics to suit all budgets opened up new markets for sign makers. Full colour, photographic printing onto vinyl was a real breakthrough. All of a sudden you’d see images on vehicles, building site hoardings and temporary banners, where previously it would have been prohibitively expensive to have graphics on these platforms. Direct-to-media flatbed printers marked the next step enabling bigger, faster and higher quality printing onto substrates as diverse as ply and glass. Reade Signs invested in direct-to-media technology in the mid noughties and as the company continued to grow, so did the size of the clients. It was the booming property sector that Reade Signs really gained expertise in and today site signage, hoarding, marketing suites and directional signage remain at the core of our offering.

The signage industry – what’s changed

1. Signage rebranded

The signage industry has changed beyond recognition and the terminology used has had a bit of a rebrand in recent years; signage is now seen as a core channel in the marketing mix and an important part of achieving brand consistency. Knowledge of marketing and brands is vital to understand unique brand requirements and innovate. It’s frequently referred to as large scale brand implementation, brand activation, wayfinding or large format branding… or just plain signage.

2. Super graphics

Sign making has always been a craft, but in terms of scale, the industry has blossomed. There are very few screen printers and only a handful of artisan sign writers today; work centres more around implementation and management of projects, with multiple stakeholders and suppliers. From local beginnings, clients now come from all over the country. A baffling array of different formats are available for all types of signage, banners, hoarding, events and exhibition graphics, retail branding, vehicle graphics and marketing suites. Professional, quality signage is now available to any organisation and to suit any budget. The art of sign-making still requires a specialist skill-set, but the skills needed are very different.

3. Specialists – all under one roof

Over the years, as sign requirements reached a larger scale, a finished sign would require several specialists at different points throughout the process. You’d get the signage artwork agreed, then go to a sign writer, then an artist for the pictorial part, then you might go to a screen printer.  Now, technology and an expert in-house team means this is all under one roof. We have a large pool of skills, qualifications and knowledge from a team expert at quoting, sourcing and project managing to meet client demands and be increasingly competitive. 

4. Choice and demands

As larger companies and brands realised the importance of making a splash with signage, expectations become higher and lead times got shorter. Reade Signs now works with so many more materials – it’s not just ply and paint – there are hundreds of materials that can create different effects to represent a brand and grab the audience’s attention. It used to take weeks to apply undercoat, paint the ply, route-out posts – it was all quite laborious.  But now, full colour capabilities mean we have no constraints – we can print onto almost any material. Last year we produced six miles of panels for property developers, handled over 2,500 jobs and every day we have up to 20 installers out on the road. And from receipt of final artwork to installation on-site, we can fit 20m hoarding in just 72 hours.

The changing face of business and the economic impacts of the last 30 years mean clients are far more cost conscious and demand value for money from their marketing spend. The good news is that modern materials and printing techniques enable us to provide high-end finish using cost-effective materials to maximise any budget.

5. ‘Up a ladder in shorts and flip flops!’

There wasn’t much in the way of health and safety when Andy founded the company. He’d install signs ‘up a ladder in his shorts and flip flops – you would make things happen!’ For a long time now, though, we’ve been finding solutions to make it happen safely and observe strict regulations, taking regular advice from our own health and safety consultant. Training and accreditation is so important to being highly professional and maintaining high standards at every stage of the design, manufacture and installation process.

The signage industry – what hasn’t changed?

1. It’s all still marketing

Essentially, signage is still marketing; we might use more elaborate brand and marketing terminology, but it still serves the same purpose. ‘Brand activation’ is the art of driving consumer action – and was the same intention when creating a hand-crafted sign for The Red Lion! Our purpose is to make brands and messaging stand out, the industry sometimes just uses different terminology.

2. Reputation

As a business, our reputation still supports us in the same way it did from day one and has helped us grow our work with many national property developers and corporates. The service level requirements and quality control are still as high as ever and reputation enables us to continue to be creative and branch out into other exciting fields – beyond shop fronts to large-scale architectural signage projects and complex wayfinding solutions.

3. Apprenticeships

Andy started out as an apprentice sign maker and that’s something we continue to embrace as a company; it’s vital to invest in the future and pass skills on to a new generation. Continuous development and training is very much at the heart of the business – not just our passion to do a job well, but also the necessity to keep up with changing technology. Continuing the family theme of the business, we currently have two brothers working in production department, who joined as apprentices and show a real aptitude to learn, improve and work as part of our team. In fact, one of them recently won Young Sign Maker of the Year!

4. Passion for design

Andy Reade has always had a passion for design and this still is a driving force within the company as the market for large scale graphics and digital signage grows. While the business is unrecognisable from the company Andy founded, he’s keen to see it grow and progress to the next generation. It’s this passion, being flexible and constantly evolving that’s always been essential in the signage industry. For us, constantly improving and trying new things means short deadlines can be met, problems can be overcome with creative solutions and adjustments to changing situations can be managed smoothly.

How can I use lighting with my site hoarding?

Sign installation at Royal Exchange, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Clever use of hoarding lighting is a superb way of making the most of the best vantage points, highlighting messages and maximising the impact of your site hoarding. With one in eight people working night shifts, and darker winter months, great lighting means you can make the most of your marketing 24/7 for all passing traffic. Lighting elements include lightboxes, strip lighting and halo-illuminated lettering.

LEDs are available in many variations and can be used with timers in sensitive residential areas, also making it more cost-effective. LED header and footer hoarding illumination is low cost, great as a design feature and provides a subtle wash of light rather than illuminating the entire hoarding. Halo-illuminated lettering is great for highlighting your new development name or brand.

Lightboxes used within hoarding can be very effective. The use of shallow lightbox extrusion and printed flex-face panels mean the hoarding can take extra weight without compromising the structure. We always recommend getting the structure of the hoarding checked by a qualified engineer before adding any additional weight to it, such as light boxes, flagpoles or extended height sections as these all add extra wind loading to the hoarding. All these elements help draw attention to your advertising hoarding messages all year round and, if correctly designed, are very cost-effective.

If you’d like to find out more about how lighting can enhance your building site hoarding, please call us for a chat or if you’d like to discuss a project on 01252 336 000.

What is the lead-time for hoarding?

Beaufort Park site hoarding

Commissioning advertising hoarding panels often gets left until the last minute, but you can get the most value and impact by considering your hoarding cladding design and materials as early as possible to make the most of the pre-launch window. Allowing for different milestones such as ‘site acquired’, ‘under construction’ or ‘plots reserved’ throughout the life-cycle of the build can engage the community and build interest from the outset.

Advertising hoarding panels are a superb way of generating valuable word-of-mouth advertising in the local area, selling the future vision of the development and driving marketing suite visitors. Turnaround time for site hoarding will very much depend on the size of the hoarding project, but from final artwork, our average lead-time to manufacture, print and install 20 metres of hoarding panels in a single location is just three days.

Before you get to final artwork stage, we take the initial briefing and come up with recommendations for potential materials, styling and lighting options. We conduct a professional site survey and then agree the final design – either with our in-house team or with the client’s designers. It’s important to look at creative solutions for your budget, make clever use of manufacturing techniques and position key messages at high footfall points to maximise stand out. Leaving enough time means you can take these elements into consideration and create hoarding that stands-out.

Find out more about building site hoarding on this dedicated page. If you’d like to discuss a project, please call us on 01252 336 000.

Hoarding – Top tips for being bold on a budget

Hoarding – top tips for being bold on a budget

Every new residential or commercial development is different and requires tailored marketing to attract different audiences. But what are your options with advertising hoarding if your budgets have been squeezed, but you still want to make a big impact? Here are a few solutions we recommend…

I love the look of built up letters but don’t have the budget for stainless steel:
Instead of fabricated built-up stainless-steel letters, we suggest 20mm thick painted Foamex letters to highlight the development name.

Brass letters would set off my high-end development, but the costs are prohibitive:
Instead of using expensive metal materials – we can create metallic text in bronze or gold-cut vinyl to achieve a high-end effect.

The designer’s hoarding concept uses a spot-UV effect we love, but we can’t justify the additional cost:
Using a combination of matt and gloss laminate creates a superb spot-UV effect.

There are a huge number of competitors in the local area, and I want to stand out above the traffic:
Extra height sections of hoarding manufactured in Foamex are a great, low cost way to maximise impact at key footfall points and above the height of the traffic.

I want people to look twice:
Using different depths of hoarding can create an effective look – by building out parts of the hoarding or creating recesses, you can add interest.

I’m looking for a cost-effective industrial look and feel:
Vinyl applied on sterling board with Foamex built-up letters gives an original, contemporary industrial effect.

There are so many options and our team are great at coming up with creative solutions to suit any budget. Find out more about building site hoarding on this dedicated page. If you’d like to discuss a project, please call and speak to one of our hoarding experts on 01252 336 000.

Which hoarding is best for your housing development?

Which hoarding is best for your housing development

Hoarding is a temporary structure installed around the perimeter of a construction site for the safety and security of the site, construction workers and members of the public. It’s also a highly cost-effective advertising space to showcase a housing or commercial development, communicate the brand and attract sales.

For advertising hoarding, we recommend cladding the base ply hoarding panels with either digitally printed Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) or a direct vinyl wrap to the ply*. Both options will carry your message and images in high resolution full colour digital print and images can even be illuminated. We recommend headers and kickers be added to give a neat finish and again these will allow for lighting to be fitted beneath the header, which will provide a wash of light to illuminate the entire hoarding at night. They suit both short and long-term use and are easy to install, strong and secure.

Which material is best for my hoarding project?

ACM sheets – also commonly known by the brand Dibond, ACM is secured onto plywood. It’s made from two thin coil-coated aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core (polyethylene or foam). Printed ACM can be applied straight onto hoardings.

It’s a superb material for hoarding because it flexes and is very durable, offers sound reduction and is fireproof. The overall affect is a streamlined, professional look and feel. Individual panels can also be easily updated and replaced and is less expensive than vinyl wrapped ply.

Vinyl wrapped ply hoarding panels – comes with different effects and can be laminated or wrap sealed. Vinyl wrapped hoarding is popular with luxury, high-end building developments. This type of hoarding gives a very high quality of finish.

Site hoarding lasts for about three years, although it can be updated and refreshed at any point during the build. For extra longevity, hoarding can be coated with anti-graffiti laminate.

Our team takes a consultative approach and can provide advice on the best option for your development, based on the brand, location, site life-cycle and expected frequency of message changes. Find out more about building site hoarding. If you’d like to discuss a project, please give us a call on 01252 336 000.

*Vinyl wrap to ply requires a specific grade of ply, please ask for further details.

From apprentice to award-winner: celebrating young talent in the UK sign industry

Last week I made my way to Leicester with my colleague Marc Kisko to attend the British Sign Awards 2018. The awards celebrate some truly remarkable achievements that demonstrate the wealth of skills and creativity that make the British sign industry world class. Marc, who is 22 and has been with Reade Signs for four years, was shortlisted for the Young Sign Maker of the Year category. And I’m absolutely thrilled that he won the award!

From the outset, Marc has shown dedication; he completed his apprenticeship in 12 months – instead of the usual 18 – and demonstrated real development and problem-solving skills ever since. This approach has continued throughout Marc’s time at Reade Signs. It is his attitude that really drives him forward. Marc is a naturally quiet and reserved person, so it’s understandable that coming in to join an established team might be daunting. However, Marc has really demonstrated a thirst for knowledge, a drive for personal development and he works brilliantly as part of our team.

Marc has continued to learn and recently trained to use our state-of-the-art EFI Vutek LX3 Pro printer. Amira Bouchiba from CMYUK, who trained Marc told us: “Marc has been what I would call ‘the perfect student’… although he was not my only trainee, Marc stood out.”

Since qualifying, he’s really made this his mission and pushed himself ahead. This epitomises the drive and flexibility that has been at the core of the growth of Reade Signs and our founder, Andy Reade’s philosophy since he started his career as an apprentice sign writer.

Marc recently met MP, Leo Docherty, who visited us to learn more about Reade Signs and how we develop apprentices. Marc’s younger brother Kyle has also completed his Sign Makers apprenticeship with us, and our Assistant Account Manager, Jerome True has recently finished his Business Administration apprenticeship.

I’ve been thrilled by the rapid progress made by Marc. He’s just got his head down and got on with it. He is very conscientious and a pleasure to work with. Congratulations from all of us at Reade Signs!

“The Young Signmaker of the Year award is designed to highlight how vital training and apprenticeships are to the sign industry. Young people are the future of the industry and unless we provide them with the right training, the industry will struggle in the years to come. This year, we had a record entry for the award, demonstrating that enlightened companies continue to invest in young people, but it is essential that more sign businesses follow their lead. Our congratulations to Marc and to Reade Signs for showing the way.”
David Catanach, BSGA Director.