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What is the Signage Foundation, Inc.?

Posted by Mark Fullerton on Wed, Sep 26, 2012

What is the Signage Foundation, Inc?

The Signage FoundationMost of the OnTrak Software blogs, white papers and case studies come from a marketing perspective – How to use Point-of-Sale (POS) promotions, typically signs, to increase sales and profitability.

I recently received an email from the University of Cincinnati Economics Center inviting me to participate in the Signage Foundation Inc. (SFI) - National Signage Research & Education Conference.

The SFI apparently looks at signage from an economic perspective. The invitation noted:

“Over the past year, our research on the ‘Economic Value of On-Premise Signs’ has involved collecting data on thousands of businesses through hundreds of surveys and several case studies. We are now preparing to present some key findings from our research at the National Signage Research & Education Conference, October 9-11, 2012. For those interested in this research, we want to personally invite you to the conference.”

Imagine this: OnTrak Software is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I’ve never heard of the National Signage Research & Education Conference or the Signage Foundation Inc.

Two Perspectives on Signage

I immediately went to SFI’s website ( In my opinion it appears the SFI approach is to research and report on the economic impact of signage - Quite different from our perspective. Our view of signage, which we call POS or POP, focuses on those marketing campaigns and materials that are used to promote sales - And more importantly turn shoppers into buyers.

We believe that effective Point-of-Sale (POS) Marketing Management will improve both sales and profits.

OnTrak has published a POS Marketing Management Whitepaper which goes into more details on this topic. You can request a copy of our whitepaper by clicking this button:

     POS Marketing Management

The Economic Value of Signs Research Study

Although it is possible to interpret the benefits of improved sales as “economic benefits,” we’ve generally taken the approach that signage helps create sales and profits, or “financial benefits”. SFI takes a much broader view of signage. The following is the description of one of the breakout sessions planned for the October 2012 conference:

The University of Cincinnati researchers have been investigating the question of sign impacts for over fifteen years. Their research study – Economic Impact of On-Premise Signs’, the Signage Foundation, has produced an in-depth examination and critical study of on-premise signs and environmental signage to evaluate their immediate and long term impact within the physical, economic and aesthetic environments.”

This conference presentation will focus on several key questions for businesses and communities:

  • What does the research show about the various purposes that on-premise signs serve for businesses?
  • Given those purposes, what is the economic value of those signs for businesses?
  • What differences exist between various types of businesses in the purpose and value of signs?
  • How do communities and consumers benefit from on-premise signs?

This research has significant implications.  Nearly all businesses have a need for effective on-premise signs to help them succeed. To the extent that signs and sign regulations promote or hinder business activity, there is an impact on the vitality of commercial areas and the tax collections of local governments.”


This Signage Foundation session, like most of the conference’s sessions, is being presented by economics professors, civil engineers, lawyers, urban planning professors and professors of signage and visual marketing, and not by marketing professors. That's interesting.

But I have reviewed the SFI objectives and vision and it appears that those of us who work to improve the impact and ROI of point-of-sale marketing may be able to gain valuable insights from SFI’s research (available for download from their website.) If you’re interested in attending the conference on October 9 – 11, here in Cincinnati, please click this link:

Tags: point-of-sale marketing management, Marketing At-Retail, on-premise signage, Signage Foundation