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Despite the growth in social media, online advertising and pay-per-click marketing, UK business decision makers still believe that an exterior sign is a better use of marketing budget for a start-up than the majority of online marketing tools available, according to a new survey.

Signs Express, the UK's largest sign company, commissioned an independent research company to survey more than 1000 business decision makers, to find out what challenges they are facing and better understand the role that signage plays in overall business marketing and branding strategies. The research showed that more than three quarters (78%) of business decision makers believe that signs, graphics and displays play an important part in their marketing activity and 98% think that good quality and attractive signs and graphics help to give a good impression of a business. When asked to select the best three marketing tools for a business being marketed from scratch, from a list of 12 options, respondents said: (1) a website (77%) (2) an exterior sign (47%) (3) printed brochures or leaflets (43%) Craig Brown, Managing Director at Signs Express, said: 'There is no doubt that company websites are the shop window of businesses today. But our research proves that exterior signs, which have been around for hundreds of years, are still a vital part of the marketing mix and highly regarded as an essential investment - firmly in the top three choices for effectively marketing a business.' The survey revealed that the least popular marketing choices were press advertising, radio advertising, Yellow Pages and billboard poster advertising. Online advertising was number five on the list with 26% of respondents putting this in their top three. 'We first carried out this research in 2011 and repeated it to see if opinions have changed in the past three years,' continues Craig. 'Whilst pay-per-click advertising takes its place as number six on the list of preferred marketing tools, it still comes below signs, printed leaflets and vehicle graphics. We were also interested to see that press, radio, yellow pages and outdoor advertising have remained at the bottom of the list but with even less respondents selecting these than in 2011.' The Signs Express research indicated that websites are most important for those operating nationally or internationally, whilst exterior signs and vehicle graphics were cited as more valuable by businesses with a local and/or regional reach. Craig Brown concludes: 'The survey also revealed that Signs Express customers come back again and again and would recommend us. We are, of course, delighted with this because we take great pride in what we do and are celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. Each Signs Express centre is fitted out with state-of-the-art equipment, which enables us to design, print, manufacture and install almost all forms of exterior signage to meet our customers' briefs and budgets exactly.' For more information about the survey results or to find out more about Signs Express please visit www.signsexpress.co.uk

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