Is Your “Sorry, We’re Closed” Sign a Lost Marketing Opportunity?

By Matter

I hate those “Sorry, We’re Closed” signs on the doors of businesses—especially on the door of my favorite Portsmouth, NH, ice cream shop. But it isn’t the fact that it’s closed that bothers me so greatly; it’s the lost marketing opportunity to communicate with its customers.


At Matter, we conduct what I like to call “touch point analysis” for our clients. The analysis takes a really deep look at every single way the business comes into contact (planned or otherwise) with its stakeholders and explores how each interaction impacts the brand.

All companies know they should pay attention to the biggies: website, marketing collateral, voice mail systems, etc. But, as in life, it is often the little things that, over time, influence the perception of a company’s brand. Are you using your invoices as a chance to share a meaningful bit of news? How about your e-mail signature? Do you have core messages developed that all staff members use when speaking with customers? Are you effectively leveraging physical spaces? Is your social media campaign on-brand, or is it just gobs of content?

When you have a chance to “hang a sign in a window”—whether literally or proverbially—please ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who will be “touched” by this communication opportunity, and what do they really want to know? In the case of the ice cream store, potential customers seeking an icy treat want to know when you are open (not when you are closed). They might also want to know what you have inside your store—but alas, they cannot peer through darkened windows.
  2. What do you want them to do with your company? If I own this shop, I want them to come back to buy ice cream, and I want them to know my ice cream is worth the second trip.
  3. What impression will this communication make, and is it consistent with your company brand? This shop has a lovely bright environment, friendly staff, and award-winning, quality ice cream… and it offers a new funky flavor each week that is worth repeat visits. The brand is fun, top-quality, and surprising. 

So when this shop is closed, instead of the cheap, plastic, red, “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign on the door, how about:

We can’t believe we missed you! Please come back at 11:00 a.m. any day, and we will be open to serve you the best ice cream in the Seacoast. We feature a new surprise flavor every week!

Then use other window space near the door sign to feature an article, photo, or recent award that proves your value—even a propped up blackboard will do.