How to Sell Your Airbrushed Vinyl

Butch ‘Superfrog’ Anton shares his secrets of his success in selling airbrushed vinyl. Hint: it’s a three-tiered pricing approach. Read on to learn more.

It’s time to get a return on the time and money you’ve invested into becoming an expert at airbrushing on vinyl. Learn how to generate a buzz and close the sale every time.

Vinyl. Airbrushes. Paint. Skills. You’ve got everything you need to knock the socks off of the most discriminating of critics. Now you just need one more thing to launch a profitable division of your sign company: customers.

Let’s face it. You can be the best airbrush artist in the South (or the East, West and North for that matter) and without customers you won’t make penny. So how does one begin to generate a return on the investment of time and money you’ve made in acquiring the equipment and skills to airbrush with the best of them?

It’s a three-legged stool, according to Butch “Superfrog” Anton, founder of Superfrog Sign University, better known as Frog U. The university is a one, three or five day hands-on school taught in-house at Superfrog Signs and Graphics in Moorhead, Minn.

Anton is well-qualified to impart the knowledge it takes to become successful in airbrushing. He has a degree in industrial technology and has been an educator on the national sign circuit since 1990. He has since taught classes from coast to coast and all over the world.

Anton has written countless articles for various industry magazines and offers a series of instructional videos on working with vinyl. Indeed, Anton’s innovative ideas have changed the sign industry in many ways, the most obvious being the three-tier pricing concept. His tree-legged stool to selling airbrushed vinyl includes creating sales tools, marketing/sales and pricing what you make.

Creating sales tools
With ready skills, equipment and supplies, your first step toward attracting paying customers is to create sales tools. Anton has learned that pricing products is one area where many in the sign industry are making the big mistakes ­ and therefore missing out on profits. Why does Anton have such insight? Experience.

“I was a sign painter first and then later began to work with computers and digital files,” Anton explains. “That changed everything because I discovered that I could design the graphic on the computer and then airbrush special effects really quick on the vinyl. It was like, ‘Oh my God, I can go from zero vinyl to an airbrush vinyl with an outline and a shadow in between 30 seconds to five minutes’.”

That revelation changed Anton’s mindset about pricing and has since changed the mindsets of many others. Since Anton discovered he could create three different levels of product ­ straight vinyl, airbrushed vinyl and very detailed airbrushed vinyl – he created a three-tiered pricing board.

Here’s how it works:

Imagine the word “Excellent” on plain white vinyl on a red board. Do you have the picture? OK, now imagine the word “Excellent” on white vinyl that is enhanced with a yellow airbrush blend positioned just below the plain text on that same red board. Are you getting the drift? OK, now take it a step further and imagine the word “Excellent” on white vinyl on top of a black outline and shadow just below the other two texts on that same red board. So it’s the same lettering, but it is displayed three different ways. Obviously, the third level is the most attractive with the most detail.

This red board with the three samples is a sales tool that works time and time again, says Anton. And the best part is… well we’ll get to the best part in a moment. Let’s continue with the sales and marketing demonstration so we can see just exactly how to put this quick and easy sales tool to use.

Sales and marketing
With the example board prepared, Anton is ready to qualify customers when they walk through his door. He talks with them individually to learn about their special needs in what he calls “the five minute interview.” When the qualification process is complete, Anton shows the example board with the three levels of lettering to the potential customer and asks him which of the three he likes the best.

“I can tell you from experience that 95 percent of all people will pick number three, the most complicated one,” Anton says. “Once I know that they like number three, then I put a price on it. Let’s say the customer wants vinyl lettering on the side of his semi-truck. The first level of lettering on the red board for that job is $150. But level number three costs him $300 because I have to do three different things to it.”

Now here’s the “best part” hinted to earlier. The best part is that it only takes Anton a fraction ­ say about 1/8th more time – to create level three than it does to create level one. So he is increasing his profits exponentially.

“The name of the game is learning how to sell it,” Anton says. “The moral of the story is that we are a specialty custom shop. We always have been and we always will be. We always do the trick stuff because customers are willing to pay for the specialty stuff because they see the value in it.”

Pricing the product
There are some variations in the pricing scheme. The price may vary from customer to customer depending on several factors. Anton says some of the best customers are referrals from other customers, and much of the pricing strategy deals with the customer’s perceived value.

“What happens is that some guy down the street will ask the customer with the fancy lettering on his semi-truck where he got the job done and the customer sends them to us,” Anton says. “We don’t even do the three-tier pricing then. When they tell us who referred them to us, we offer them the same type of lettering they saw on their friend’s truck because we know that is what they liked. So I’ll charge him $350.”

What if the potential customers balk at the price? A savvy Anton will simply ask the person how much they had planned to spend. If the customer says he only has $280 in his budget, then Anton will usually agree to do something “really nice” for him at that rate. He’ll do almost the exact same job but leave one item out.

“We want to keep it custom,” Anton says. “Anything we throw out there on the street, we want it to be nice because that’s what does the selling for us. That’s what brings in new customers. The name of the game is to do it as fast as you can and make as much money as you can and then go spend it.”

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