A Sign Program with an Essential and Expansive Message

Eye-Opening Banner Series at Dothan Nurseries 
Highlights the "IT" Factor of Gardening 

A recent project with J. D. Boone and Dothan Nurseries is worth sharing as an illustration of the expansive potential of POP signage executed with a strategic message. 


Basic POP101: signage as focal points for departments, products, pricing, etc. It serves a good purpose. And it's so accessible today with the readily available in-house tools of software, substrates, and digital printers that make it fast, easy, and affordable. Why not take it a step further and then another step further. 

At the Fall Event with J.D., I shared some of the great features of the extra-large format signage I have been producing for several years ( CLICK HERE to See) for growers and retailers. He thought he had a perfect application. With prominent location on a busy highway, Dothan Nurseries was a prime setting for the high visibility of a large format message. Better still, 200-250 feet of 5ft tall metal fence parallel to the road with a 15ft set back offered the perfect structure for carrying the signage. 

Set a Course 

In our early discussion, J.D. mentioned several messages he wanted to send with his signage.... 

  • Let people know what's on the other side the fence- a fine independent garden center. Odd as it sounded to me, J.D. had a feeling a lot of traffic was zipping by unaware. 

  • Engage new shoppers- once informed out on the road, novice or experienced gardeners who never thought to stop before would have a bold invitation to come in. 

  • Be encouraging- let the customer know gardening doesn't have to be the big mystery. Just get started and Dothan is there to help make it easier, enjoyable, and successful. 

  • Give it a cool, colorful, feel and look. 

  • Use imagery that shows lifestyle, activity, family, fun, and beauty. 

A great menu to start with. 

In developing a concept, a few parameters of my own... 

  • An interesting space to work within at a max 5ft tall and 200+ft wide. 

  • Think billboard thoughts. This had all the characteristics - very short read time and the less busy, the better. 

  • Communicate a connective message in word and image. 

  • Give the message a shelf life. This is not price and item signage to change weekly or monthly. 

Saying IT 

Starting there, I revisited Hendrickson's reasons why a gardener gardens. That really gets to the root(!) of all things. What does a gardener want and need? That's the IT of gardening! 

What is IT? 

  • Find IT- You want that cool, new, or favorite plant 

  • Start IT- Get going with something new, wholesome, worthwhile 

  • Grow IT- You want gardening to be fun, easy, enjoyable 

  • Do IT- You want accomplishment- satisfaction of a job well done 

  • Dig IT- You want to get in the dirt, get in tune with the earth again 

  • Create IT- You want beauty, creativity, self-expression 

  • Live IT- You want your home to be an expression of pride and beauty 

  • Love IT- You want to be passionate about something and love doing it with children, partners, and friends 

  • Cherish IT- You want to give something back to Mother Earth 

Where is IT? (drum roll) 

 Dothan Nurseries- We Have IT 

Pulling IT Together 

The idea was born. This set of very simple phrases covers the experience of gardening and how a Group garden center joins the experience and closes the circle. 

Rounding out the picture was a matter of finding appropriate images to attach to each mantra. We drew on the wealth of stock images at iStockPhoto. Very cost effective with unlimited usage once purchased. 

Bringing it all together in graphic layout, choosing the specific phrases and sequence to display on the road (didn't have room or need all the above), completed the process. The result- a series of 5 - 19ftx4.5ft banners digitally printed on mesh vinyl with hems and grommets. 

The Added Value 

You may recall a presentation I made a while back called No Message is an Island (see in this Group Blog). The essence was that your marketing communication is more effective when you take a core message and apply it to all your vehicles of communication, from signs to direct mail to e-news to website to ads and so on. Along with message and vehicle, add in coordination of timing and you have a campaign. 

In this case, J.D.'s IT message can be presented in any and all of his outlets of communication this spring, through summer, or all year if he chooses. Each of these 9 short statements can be expanded in creative and useful ways with story, focus, and timing. Add in the engaging visuals, the We Have It signature, and away IT goes! J.D.'s extending his IT message beyond road banners to direct mail, in-store signage, and video. There are other outlets to utilize as well. 

What's the message and story on your signs? Can you tell IT with consistency and coordination in the rest of your marketing communications? Does it connect in meaningful ways? IT can and should! 


If you need help to craft your own particular message or perhaps find a way to adapt this one, let me know. I'm one of your Group Service Providers and always available! 




(Thanks, J.D.!) 





Tom Kegley

Tom Kegley Communications 

Cell: 843-991-4366

[email protected] 



Tom Kegley is a Service Provider for The Garden Center Group. As a creative resource for BRANDING & MARKETING for The Group, Tom can help define the quintessential value of your garden center brand, align that essence at all constituent touch points, and coordinate the message across all appropriate channels.

Share this post:

Comments on "A Sign Program with an Essential and Expansive Message"

Comments 0-5 of 1

Wendy Hendrickson - Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Having visited Dothan Nurseries and knowing the drive-by traffic, these banners will be a great draw into the parking lot to experience what cool things Dothan has to offer. Great place to shop! Nice approach Tom! WH

Please login to comment