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Last Word – Make 2018 a year to remember

Last Word – Make 2018 a year to remember

In his first column of the New Year, Mark Godden suggests how signmakers can make it a year to remember

“Not sure if you’ve noticed, but that’s 2017 done and dusted. Ask twenty people whether it was a good year and you’ll no doubt get twenty very different views on the subject. Ask the same twenty whether 2018 is going to be any better and you’ll still be in much the same position.

Whether 2018 turns out to be a belter or a bummer is, at least to some extent, in the hands of those who have to find the good in it or do something to make it so. It’s often misattributed but as far as I know, Einstein said something like, “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome.” There’s something in that. At least with 20/20 hindsight, we’re not necessarily doomed to do the wrong thing in the hope of a better outcome.

Expectations of what the future might hold vary markedly among and within business sectors but particularly so in the sign and allied industries. Ours is a business that looks attractive from the outside with one’s nose pressed up against the window. The cost of entering the sign industry is very low, you don’t need to have completed five years of specialist schooling to practice and you can operate on your own if that’s what you want to do.

There are signmakers, old and new, who harbour ambitions no bigger than achieving a modest and predictable income. There are others who’ve built potentially very profitable monsters that must be fed or they’ll consume their creators. The cool thing is, I guess, either camp has a brimming pool of opportunities to swim in and it shows little sign of evaporating.

I’ve long held the view that the size of the sign and graphics market overall is restricted by sign buyers’ limited knowledge of what’s possible. With the materials and technologies that are now available to even the most modestly equipped signmaker, they sky really is the limit in terms of creativity, but your potential customers may not know that.

If you’re going to resolve to change anything in the coming year, perhaps you should do your best to increase the share of the market that’s available to you.

If yours is a big and massively capable concern, perhaps you could focus on your capability and your mastery of the creative elements. There are agencies out there who are only as good as their last big idea and that would love to be putting something new in front of clients – you deal regularly with such agencies, show them what you’re really capable of.

If yours is a smaller company, perhaps you should try to make just a little bit more of each and every job that comes your way. If a client rocks up and asks for a fascia sign above his shop front, he’s not telling you he doesn’t want window graphics too. Try suggesting it – or something like it.

However big or small your business, maybe 2018 is the year to really do something about being found. As we all know, business these days comes via Google’s front door or your preferred social media channel. Give those who arrive there something to look at – dust that website off.

Let 2018 be the year when we, as an industry, tell the market, as a customer, what we’re really capable of making!

Mark Godden

e-mail: mark@markgodden.co.uk

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