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Spinning Our Signs – The Right Way to Get Noticed

Human directionals, or, sign spinners, can cause you to notice a new business or alert you to a change in an established business...when they aren't texting, talking on the phone, or using the advertising sign as a sun bonnet.

Sign spinners make me laugh.

I am assuming you have them in your neck of the woods, though I have to admit I’ve seen more sign spinners (or, as I’ve learned the industry terms it: “human directionals”) since we’ve moved to Florida than I ever noticed in the mid-west. I’m talking about the human billboards, the modern version of the old-time sandwich boards, who stand along the streets and spin, shake, twirl, and jiggle a sign to catch your attention.

It used to be (mostly) going out of business sales that I saw them, but here in Bradenton and Sarasota, I see them for gold and silver buyers, housing developments, car service shops and car washes, pizza and sandwich shops, gyms, and tax preparation services, complete with the spinner dressed as Uncle Sam or the Statue of Liberty.

They make me laugh for two reasons.

The first one is the same reason I laugh (or cringe, depending on my mood) when I see the same TV commercial over and over and over again. The sign spinners are supposed to catch our attention and drum up business, right? But if I’m not already in the market for selling my gold, is a sign spinner going to change my mind? If my car needs the oil changed, am I asking myself, “Where did I see that spinning sign the other day?” or am I comparing prices, quality, and service? And, despite having a desire to own a 3/3 condo overlooking Sarasota Bay or the Manatee River, you jiggling a sign at me that promises a condo for “half off the original $499,000” isn’t going to get me to come in.

The second reason the spinners make me laugh is when I see them texting, talking on the phone, or otherwise NOT spinning, moving, shaking, or even displaying the sign. The psychology behind “human directionals” is that we all become so immune to static advertising, that when we see moving advertising, it will at least catch our attention. When the sign spinner isn’t moving the sign, it just becomes another billboard. Even someone in the market for the service or product won’t notice an unmoving sign. Even worse, when I see a spinner holding the sign the wrong direction and texting instead of spinning, I am left with a bad taste in my mouth.

What does this have to do with writing?

Fair question.

The last few weeks I’ve sort of felt like a spinner who’s taken to texting instead of doing the job he was hired to do. I’ve started to blog “out of duty” on several occasions, and felt the content was flat and uninspired.

It is easy to “just do what we have to do” as writers (and “platform builders”) and forget that the WHY behind doing these things is really what is important. If I just blog so there is something new on my site, I am like the distracted sign spinner who knows she is supposed to stand by the road and hold the sign, but doesn’t quite understand the deeper reasons for the activity.

Dear reader, I attempt to update my blog three or four times each week, but there are times when that just doesn’t happen. I hope you understand, and are willing to stick with me. And, I promise to not be a texting sign spinner. I’ll publish content only when it is worthy of your time.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Writing!

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