49% of homebuyers still use yard signs as information resources (source).
So, these signs shouldn’t be ignored just yet as a marketing channel.
But there are custom real estate yard signs and then there are custom real estate yard signs that likely convert better.
And in this article of mine, you will learn how you could make those that do the latter.
One clue I can give you already before you start reading any further: you will need to combine them with a human element.
The Characteristics and Usage of Typical Real Estate Yard Signs
A large share of real estate yard signs is made from corrugated plastic with vertical fluting.
What does vertical fluting do?
It has little holes that run through the interior of the sign, and enables the wire stakes you may want to use to display the sign to be put inside of the vertical fluting.
These signs are usually 4mm thick and besides the corrugated plastic, they are also made of rigid plastic or aluminum.
As the name already implies, real estate yard signs are usually placed and displayed in yards and can be displayed by using metal frames, wire stakes, posts and grommets.
What about the most common size?
The typical yard sign dimensions are 24’’ x 18’’ which make the sign visible enough for people (potential buyers) passing by.
While these dimensions are standard, for strategic marketing reasons you may not want to stick to standard (more about that later) so there are also these popular yard sign sizes:
- 24’’ x 6’’
- 36’’ x 18’’ (jumbo yard sign)
- 18’’ x 12’’
- 2’ x 2’ (jumbo yard sign)
- 4’ x 4’ (jumbo yard sign)
The main priority for the decision on the right real estate yard sign size should be visibility.
If people can’t read it well from a decent distance, you won’t get your marketing message, or “ad copy” across.
And without that, no leads.
There is a little rule of thumb you can use to determine the right size.
If you want people to be able to read the message from 30 feet away, your text will need to be 3’’ tall.
Translated into a rule of thumb, this means that for each inch of text size you will reach 10 feet of viewing distance.
And once you know the requirements for the text size, you will know what sign size you will need.
The next characteristic is typically the color.
I already covered the ideal colors of real estate signs in this article of mine.
In this article, I concluded that you want to use purple/brown, and/or black colors for high-end properties, orange and/or red for houses in lower price ranges, green for healthy homes, and again red, orange and/or yellow colors for open homes.
The Marketing Problem with the Typical Custom Real Estate Yard Signs
During my research, I looked at many different websites that offer “custom” yard signs.
When you search for them, you usually find the typical providers that can make you the standard signs I just mentioned above.
Are these really custom made real estate yard signs?
When we take a look at the meaning of “custom-made”, it means “specially made for a particular person” (source).
And what these providers usually offer in terms of customization is the following:
- A selection of the orientation (horizontal/vertical)
- Different sizes (e.g. 12’’x 18’’, 18’’x 27’’, 24’’x 36’’, 6’’x 24’’, 18’’x 24’’)
- Grommets or no grommets
- Accessories such as wire yard sign stands, command strips, plastic yard stands, plastictable top stands
- Select the photo area on the sign (if necessary)
- The sign color
- Pre-made design templates that you can customize with your text
- The option to upload your own design
To answer the question above, taking the definition of custom-made into consideration, yes, they are indeed custom-made within the constraints of the sign shape and size that can be selected.
The latter are the only constraints that limit the customizability.
So, where is the marketing problem with that?
When you revisit the well-known copywriting and marketing principle of AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action), you will find that one of the main jobs a real estate yard sign has to do is to draw attention and cause a response.
After that and when the space allows it can also raise further interest in the product/the property.
The latter usually is secondary since the product (the property) can usually be found behind the real estate yard sign.
And if it is prepared well enough to sell, further interest will be caused.
When it comes to the attention part and the usual custom real estate yard sign providers, your creative freedom is limited to color and typo.
When it comes to shape and size, you won’t have much creative freedom anymore.
You can choose between 5 or slightly more different sizes and maybe more than one type of material.
If the providers would also start to offer the customization of shapes it may mean a logistical overkill for them to streamline their business processes in the background for this use case.
But imagine if they would integrate 3D printing in their production process.
With 3D printing, the sky would be the limit in terms of creative freedom.
Why would this be an important factor in terms of attention of the AIDA formula?
You will stand out much more from your competitors that, like you, will be limited to more or less the same shapes and forms these providers offer.
If you can stand out not only with your ad copy on the sign, but also with the shape or form you will be able to increase your response and conversion rates of potential buyers and other clients that will more likely see your 100% customized real estate yard sign.
So, what can you do until providers also offer 3D printing for yard signs to cut through the real estate yard sign noise?
Well, you could make your own individual shapes and forms.
This website where a birthday yard sign was made gave me a nice idea to make a real estate yard sign that way might even be cheaper but will need more of your time.
The mentioned article above describes in detail how you can make these yard signs with thick cardboard.
What you would do is cut out the different letters you will need for your marketing message (in the case of the article, it was for a birthday yard sign) and place them the way you like it in the yard.
This is really a rough summary of how to do them. The article is much more detailed.
Another approach would be to let yourself get inspired by some guerrilla marketing methods and use another type of unconventional shapes and forms.
In my article about the best colors for real estate signs, I mentioned at the end some unconventional ideas for real estate sign forms that draw more attention.
The ideas I mentioned were:
- Signs in the form of a magnifying glass
- Signs with built-in lights that highlight the design and the ad copy
- Using a small mobile home as a sign that you can actually enter and get further information about the house
And these are the ideas that came to me while writing this article:
- Renting an old Cadillac or whichever car would appeal to the target buyer group and use that as a sign.
- Having actual people hold and/or spin your sign. Depending on the target buyer group, they could be dressed up or just in the same age group so the potential buyer group could relate.
- A variation of the former idea could be a person holding a sign with a very short message or even only a QR code as the only message, with a call to action like “Take a Picture of That”. The QR code of course leads to the landing page of the respective property that is promoted.
The last two ideas seem not too bad at all especially conversion or response rate wise.
In this study, signage experts compared how driving by cars would respond to either stand-alone signs, signs held statically by a person and signs held but with some moves and spins.
They also did different experiments with the sign size, text and color contrast on the sign.
The results were quite interesting.
As you might have already suspected, when a person held the sign the engagement was increased by 60% and high-contrast colors and text also performed better.
Further results were the following:
- Short messages increase the engagement by 90%
- The same sized message performed better on a larger sign, and caused a 75% higher response rate.
- A simple and easy to read design leads to 40% more responses.
There are many good providers that can produce nice custom real estate yard signs to a certain degree.
But if you really want to cut through the noise and increase the attention and thus response rate for your real estate yard signs, you might need to put a little more extra effort into it.
This means you may want to play with the form of the design and/or introduce also a human element.
By human element I mean someone holding the sign.
And no offense, but I didn’t mean the typical realtor picture on the sign that in the end looks like someone is running for some sort of office.