Tony Palmer comes from a long line of artists. His grandfather founded a sign shop back in the 1930s, and 60 years later, Tony followed in his footsteps. “I love creating, I love seeing people’s ideas come to life and I love seeing people’s passions,” he said. “The ability to take my life experience and help someone else find success in their chosen career is very rewarding.”
When Palmer Signs was born in 1990, the focus was on designs, wraps and signage. Over the years, their offerings have grown and evolved. Today, they also print T-shirts, offer embroidery services and even build websites for clients. Because of these changes, Tony decided the name “Palmer Signs” was no longer a fit, and this year, he rebranded his business.
In March, Palmer Signs became Palmer Plus. However, the rebranding efforts didn’t end there. Tony and his team completely overhauled their Sacramento building, knocking out walls and redoing floors. They made a point to utilize wrap films in the remodel. For instance, they used perforated films on the windows, because it helps Tony drive his own sales. “I’m always referring back to those when I’m selling perforated windows to someone else. They walk in and say, ‘I want to do this. I was going to tint my windows, but now I’m going to do this.’”
The results have made a big impression. Tony says the updated and more professional appearance gives more credibility to his business. Clients have noticed and sales have grown. “Client experience is so important. For instance, when you walk into a dingy restaurant or a business with a dirty bathroom, what’s your perception of that company? If your shop is dingy, clients are going to question the quality of your products and services. If your showroom looks good, however, your chance of converting a potential client into a sale grows by about 85%. Perception is everything.”
Tony strongly believes in the importance of a strong brand strategy. “A brand is how you separate yourself from the competition. It’s how you’re known. That can either be a detriment, or it can be a blessing, so it’s important that you put out a good brand.”
Tony understands that most sign shop owners are artistic, creative people. As someone who fits that description himself, he says that the artistic mind isn’t always organized. While it can be a challenge, he says it is critically important to keep your shop looking neat and clean. He recommends creating a storage area that is out of sight of the showroom. Get rid of clutter. Add a coat of paint to your showroom. The cost can be minimal, and the investment could pay off big-time.
Tony says social media changed the game for his business. “It leveled the playing field for us. We couldn’t afford to keep up with the guys with big advertising budgets. Social media is where we really made a change.”
He says creating and posting content, mostly how-to videos and high-end photography, led to a major boost in sales. “Last year alone, we saw a 45% increase in our wrap business. That is the only thing we did differently.”
Tony’s pro tip:
“Any time you can show what’s unique about how you do something, people are interested.”
According to Tony, “3M is a great brand, and we make sure we emphasize that with people. We’re 3M Preferred Graphics Installers, and we use 3M products. Everybody associates 3M with quality. By connecting our shop to the 3M brand, we earn credibility with our customers.”
Whenever possible, Tony recommends adding your logo to the negative, or empty, space on a wrap. For example, when he’s printing a vehicle wrap, he adds his logo to the back end, along with the phrase “Installed and wrapped by Palmer Plus.” He says, “People like it, because they like being able to say they have a Palmer wrap. It’s similar to someone buying a Louis Vuitton purse. They like to show off the logo.”
Even though it can be difficult to do sometimes, Tony says that trusting your creativity is the most important tip of all - your brand depends on your individual style and creativity. “Trust who you are. If you’re a good designer, don’t be afraid to show it. Practice what you preach.”
For Tony Palmer, building his brand isn’t a box on a checklist. It is an ongoing process that changes and evolves over time. It takes practice and dedication, but, he says, the results are well worth the investment.
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