Matching Messages and Locations in Stores

The last post “Moving Marketing Messages in Store”  talked about the importance of matching the marketing message to the right store location.  If marketing messages have one of these three main goals: attracting people into the store, making a sale in the store and building loyalty for a return visit ; the location of where the customer intersects with the message needs to match.

To attract people into the store you have three main locations: outdoor messaging, storefront windows and the front door itself.  Outdoor messaging can be a sign with changeable letters, a sidewalk sign 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 sweaters” 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 test of shoppers.  The tone of the windows begins the promise of the experience inside.  You can place a sign in the window that says you have creative paper solutions or hang fifty folded paper cranes in different sizes and colors to say the same thing. Not sure you have the creative chops to do it yourself?  Hire a part-time local art student to help change the windows once a month if you are not so creatively inclined.

If your message is about making a sale to people already in the store, use ceiling signs and the counter to deliver the message. But beware of how your store space is used.  This is the message area that is most likely to become cluttered with overlapping messages.  Look at the store with a critical eye and always focus on only one or two crisp messages.  A sales call to action and perhaps a reinforcing loyalty message is common.  Beware if there are overlapping messages like a spring clean up sale, we carry your favorite brands, become a preferred customer, sign up for a service plan and a charitable event message in multiple signs around the store.  Rotate which message is primary and be focused.  Be vigilant in removing old signs by making it a part of a standard first of the month opening checklist item.

Remember that your sales associates are also a part of harmonizing your brand message.  If your target market is small 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 trustworthy and approachable to your target market.  Which 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.

For messages that are meant to build loyalty for a return visit; use your checkout, register receipts, bag stuffers and the front door (again.)  At 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 is where a customer is most likely to entertain an offer for a loyalty program, a service plan or appreciate the offer for home delivery.  It is also where you can deliver a longer message about community programs or sponsorships.  Have brochures or other marketing materials available to the cashier so that they can quickly give the customer more information if there is interest in a detailed program.  Use acrylic document holders to make organization easy and swift.

If you have a recent POS system, you can deliver changing messages on customer receipts.  Have cashiers remind customers of any offers on their receipts as they conclude the transaction.  Bag stuffers should either be calls to action for future sales events or reminders about home delivery or online shopping.

Finally, there should be a message that gives a customer a reason to return as they leave through the front door.  This is your very last chance to communicate the brand to a customer – so please make it more creative than “Have a nice day.”

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