Marketing may seem like it all happens outside the store – in print media or across cyberspace. But savvy retailers know to combine their external marketing messages and in-store experiences. You want to make sure your store’s external marketing messages are harmonized with your customers’ in-store experiences.
To begin, keep your employees in the know. At your weekly sales meeting, tell every associate your current key marketing messages, and prominently place them on your backroom message board. Sales and sponsorships should be a part of your front-door and phone greetings as well. Create messages that associates can feel natural saying, such as “Welcome to our store! If you’re here for our February Clearance Sale, all of our sale products are in this aisle.” Avoid using cumbersome messages such as, “Welcome to our store where this week we are featuring a buy two get the third half off on every winter shoe over $ 25.” The same is true for your phone greetings. Keep them short, helpful and easy to remember.
You’ll also want to think of your marketing message as having one of the following three goals. Then match your locations to each message. Here’s how:
Goal #1: Attract people into the store.
Post messages outdoors, on storefront windows, and the front door itself. Outdoor marketing can consist of a sign with changeable letters, a sidewalk sandwich board, or even colored chalk. Depending on your brand’s voice, you can be very business-like or fun and approachable. Match your voice, the message, and the way you talk to your customers. The same “half-off all boots” message can be written on a scrolling LCD panel, posted as a limerick on your changeable store sign, or drawn as a psychedelic graphic on a sidewalk chalkboard depending on your brand voice.
Storefront windows are the first taste for shoppers. The tone of the windows begins the promise of the experience inside. You could, for example, place a sign in your window that says you have creative paper solutions. Or you could hang fifty folded paper cranes in different sizes and colors to communicate the same message. Savvy retailers use the products they sell in hundreds of creative ways to showcase exciting solutions inside. Hire a local art student part-time to help change the windows once a month if you need creative help.
Goal #2: Make a sale to people already in your store.
Use ceiling signs and the counter to deliver your call-to-action message. But beware of how your store space is used. These are the message areas most likely to become cluttered with overlapping signs. Look at your store with a critical eye and always focus on communicating one or two crisp marketing messages, such as a price promotion and a reinforcing loyalty message. Beware, however, if you have too many different messages around the store, such as one for a spring clean-up sale, another touting the fact that you carry their favorite brands, and yet another on how to become a preferred customer. Remember: less is more! Rotate your messages to keep them fresh. Just keep them focused. You’ll also want to be vigilant about removing old signs. Make this a part of a monthly checklist item.
Your sales associates are also a part of your brand message. If your target market is local businesses, a store uniform should probably consist of a button-down shirt with an embroidered logo instead of a t-shirt. Your store associates should look credible and approachable to your target market. This means that a written policy on appearance and hygiene may be in order. Reinforce messages with buttons or lanyards worn by your sales associates when appropriate.
Goal #3: Build loyalty for a return visit.
Use your checkout, register receipts, bag stuffers, bags, or even inside of the front door to grab your customers attention and encourage another visit. At the checkout, there should be a pleasant exchange with the cashier that includes an earnest request to visit again. Consider a counter mat that allows you to insert a changing message under its transparent cover to keep it up to date. Here’s where a customer’s most likely to entertain an offer for a loyalty program, a service plan, or home delivery. It’s also where you can deliver a longer message about community programs or sponsorships. Have brochures or other marketing materials available for cashiers to quickly give customers more information if there’s interest in a detailed program. Use acrylic document holders to make organization easy and swift.
If you have a recent point-of-sale system, you can deliver changing messages on customer receipts. Have cashiers remind customers of any offers on their receipts as they conclude transactions. Bag stuffers should either be calls to action for future sales events or reminders about home delivery or online shopping.
Critique your bag itself and make sure that it reinforces your brand. Today, customers see bags as reusable items. Make sure you provide a bag that customers are proud to use and consider it a marketing expense – not an operating expense – that advertises your brand outside the store.
Finally, there should be a message that gives customers a reason to return as they leave through the front door. This is your very last chance to communicate your brand to customers, so make your message and its means of delivery more memorable than “Have a nice day.”
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Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published by Bags & Bows and was written by Flora Delaney. The post has been updated for accuracy and relevance.
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