5 Ways to Craft Effective Sandwich Board Messages

Crafting Effective Sidewalk Signs

Posted on 10, March, 2015

Last Modified on 14, March, 2019

Sandwich boards and sidewalk signs are some of the most common advertising displays used by local businesses. Part of the reason for their popularity is that they are very economical yet they provide users with lots of features and versatility, especially if they are designed to be written on or come with a set of changeable letters. Customizable designs give retailers and restaurant owners the ability to tailor their signage and information, so potential customers are more likely to enter the business. Because the sidewalk signs can have such a massive effect, it is extremely important that the displayed message is well crafted. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some ways to develop effective sandwich board messages.

Directional Cues

Local businesses operate storefronts in wide variety of neighborhoods, from busy downtown districts to suburban and residential areas. Many local shops rent or lease spaces that aren't exactly ideal. In fact, it's safe to say the vast majority of businesses certainly do not build their own buildings (at least when they first open), so it's no surprise that small business owners often experience the pitfalls of less-than-optimal locations. One of the most common problems for small business owners is designing and hanging a sign that everyone can see. Pedestrians and motorists often pass by businesses and do not have a clear view of overhead signs. Because sandwich boards are lightweight, they can easily be placed at a variety of angles right in potential customers' line of sight.

Sometimes people don't even know your business is open at all. I personally lived next to one of the coolest bars around for years without realizing it was even open. If they had placed just one sidewalk sign outside the entrance, they may well have paid for the sign with my business--and that's just one customer! Imagine the impact it would have had on many customers. In short, people want direction. Bold arrows not only stand out to prospective customers but also provide assurance about where they are going. These types of directional messages don't leave any room for error, which is great because customers usually don't want to work that hard to find your business. Consider using strong directional cues when creating your message, so everyone knows exactly where to go.


Using Promotions to Draw Customers
Using Promotions & Sales

Everyone loves free stuff! Giveaways and promotions have been driving business for centuries simply because...well...they work! Giving customers extra perks and bonuses is a great way to gain their trust. That trust can then be used to increase the average amount that customers will spend. Some of the most common ways to do this are free upgrades, package deals, and promotions that offer the customer more convenience. (Car salesman have this down pat.) Raffles and prize-driven sweepstakes are some other great ways to generate more interest and revenue for your business. What's even better is that businesses never lose on these deals and if the customer feels like they got a little something extra, everyone wins! Feature sales, promotional pricing, limited time offers, and other perks on your sidewalk sign and the customers will come rolling in.


In recent years, humor has played an increasingly important role in advertising. Sandwich boards are commonly set up with funny, quirky, and downright strange messages that are intended to put potential customers in the right mindset for making a purchase. The saying "laughter is the best medicine" could be reimagined as "laughter is the best advertising strategy." Happy, entertained customers are much more likely to make a purchase. Additionally, lots of customers appreciate the less serious, human element that comical messages provide. Funny sandwich board messages are so common now that there are tons of image compilations of the funniest examples on the web. Who knows? Maybe one of your funny sidewalk signs will go viral!

Topical References

Using Topical References to Sell More
Topical Reference & Promotion

You can even take your funny messages one step further by adding topical references. Featuring popular TV shows, movies, music, sports teames, and news stories in your sidewalk sign messages will show customers that your business has a human side. For example, if a bar offers a new drink called the "Walter White", you can bet that a lot of Breaking Bad fans will want to give it a taste. Leveraging pop culture is one of the easiest ways to attract new business.


Controversial messages are yet another way to draw in prospective customers. While it's usually not a good idea to talk about hot-button issues that get people on edge, lighthearted subjects that do not offend can be very effective. For example, you could post a sign showing "Star Wars or Star Trek? Come in and vote. Winning team gets a 10% discount!" Dividing your customer base may not seem like the best advertising move, but you'd be surprised at the success some businesses experience doing so.


These simple tips will give you an edge on your competitors and help you create effective messages that drive more people into your business. Think about how each tactic can benefit the various campaigns your company runs. You can even consider combining several of tactics together in one message for even more impact. Humanize your business again with unique, exciting messages that people can't help but read and you will not regret it!

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