Missing the signs


When you’re in the hospitality business, you want to take every opportunity to promote yourself. Right?

Why then, this strange trend for new hospitality businesses to erect signs on their construction sites which don’t tell us anything at all?

Lately, I’ve seen too many upcoming establishments share ‘watch this space’ and ‘follow us on social media for more’ messages on their temporary signs. They’re a wasted opportunity, insulting and stupid.

The Highway Hotel
Now .. this is a good an example of great signage.

If you’re going to open a café or a microbrewery in a high-traffic location, put up a sign that shares something meaningful with the passing traffic. There are thousands of vehicles and pedestrians passing each week while your outlet is being built and decorated – why wouldn’t you grab that chance to share a few well-chosen words spruiking yourself?

What have I noticed instead?

Businesses sharing social media icons and phrases like ‘Follow us to find out more’ or ‘Who is <name>?’

Let me get this straight. This is what you’re asking the passing traffic to do:

  • Remember your business name
  • Feel motivated enough to look you up online by searching that name
  • Assess the search results and try to find your business (not easy)
  • Find your business on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter and follow you – just because you’ve said you’re opening soon and they should follow you to ‘stay tuned for updates’
  • Occasionally see your news within the hundreds or thousands of other social media accounts they follow
  • Amongst those thousands of social media accounts they follow, they might see news about who exactly you are, what you offer, why they should come to your business

You know, I have a full time job. I have two kids. I have organisations I volunteer for and hobbies and friends and I like to go out. But amongst all that – if I’m curious about your business and ‘want to know more’ you are asking me to make time in my very busy life to seek you out.

How about this instead.

I walk past your business Monday to Friday, to and from work. That’s me going past 10 times a week. How about you put up a menu? How about you write in BIG LETTERS what your business is going to offer. Are you a tapas bar? Will you have live music? Are you a new tea house? Will you have great burgers? Do you deliver? WHO ARE YOU? Stop insulting me by teasing me. It’s not captivating, it’s not hip, it’s not what social media strategies require you to do.

If you think an Instagram logo is going to save you, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. Social media is nice to have as part of your communications mix, but there’s nothing unique about a social presence anymore.

We all know business is competitive and hospitality is especially  so.

The walls of your new site (and current site!) present free publicity.

Use that cladding around your business to communicate.

Doing anything less is plain stupid.




6 Comments Add yours

  1. Gary Lum says:

    They’re trying to be smart or clever but they’re failing.

  2. Hear, hear, Prakky. You have so perfectly articulated what I have been thinking for ages. I think I know one such place you’re referring to. A certain place in the city that recently opened – I still don’t know, entirely, what is on offer. I don’t think I follow them on social media – that might be why. But I wasn’t entirely motivated to.

    What’s more, I hate (hate) businesses that use wording more at home in their business plan as their introduction to the world. Dense, impenetrable, incoherent-to-the-punters…

  3. twillyon says:

    I feel like this was inspired by a new joint on Waymouth with a green sign. So much speculation but when I went in there on Friday, so much disappointment.

    The ambiguous signs stem from this stupid idea of black book marketing. It’s Adelaide, it’s a small city with lots of venues and not enough people to fill them. I like seeing businesses be smart about marketing but not asking me to play guessing games.

    1. Prakky says:

      I feel like you are right, Tom.
      Sorry for late response! #tardy

  4. Baxters says:

    Brilliant. You say what everyone else is thinking, Prakky. 🙂

    1. Prakky says:

      Thanks Baxters x

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