As consumers continue to be bombarded from all sides with new advertising information, it has become more of a challenge for retailers to get their unique message noticed.
An old formula in the marketing business used to estimate advertising impressions at over 1,000 per day, per person. Who knows what it is now, with constant connection to the Internet, more direct mail than ever, billboards, endless TV and radio, jingles, twitters, blogs, and of course, logos on just about everything you can imagine.
But there is one place that you can guarantee controlled advertising messages-messages that provide information that will work for you and your business. That place is your own store, and more specifically, your showroom.
Your Space, Your Message
Hopefully by now, everyone understands the importance of outdoor signage. After all, how can anyone find or notice your store without a sign out front? But what happens after you’ve been found is the other crucial half of the marketing formula.
Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of a customer asking you “who the check should be made out to” at the time of purchase? You may think that customer is pretty oblivious to his or her surroundings, but you should look carefully around your store before passing judgment. If you were them, after receiving perhaps even half their daily quota of “information,” would you know the name of your store without some clues?
Most performance showrooms have ample P.O.P. and brand identifiers for well-known or nationally advertised products, but not much in the way of merchant identification-namely, your name.
Customers can quickly be overloaded when confronted with a multitude of visual messages. It’s your job as a merchant to simplify the surroundings and send the most important message: yours.
The first step to take is to visit your showroom or sales floor from your customer’s point of view. What’s the first thing they see? What do they see when they are at the register or service counter? What’s the last thing they see as they leave? How often and how prominently do they see your company name? What will they remember later about your place of business?
If you aren’t satisfied by the answers, it’s time to obtain some of your own brand identifiers, P.O.P. or graphics.
Eye-Catching Light Boxes
Many forms of “customizable” visual merchandising devices are available today, from neon signs to inexpensive vinyl graphics. Your logo, company name or slogan can be featured as professionally and memorably as the best nationally advertised product, thus building awareness and retention of your own business.
One of my favorites is the light box. Light boxes can be made in anything from wood to extruded aluminum. They can be of just about any size, can fit flush with a wall, hang like a picture frame or stand alone as a tower.
They are essentially backlit picture boxes that feature a giant transparency or “slide.” This transparency can and should be the image of your choice-your logo, a photo of your staff or of your most recent custom automotive creation. The image can be changed out or rotated at any time so that your message remains fresh.
While light boxes are not the cheapest forms of personalized P.O.P., they are certainly one of the most visually striking. And because they are backlit, they are particularly effective in lower light conditions in the evening or even as an afterhours “billboard.”
There are less-expensive versions of the light box, known as backlit signs. They can be purchased in many sizes and with a premade message from a list of hundred of titles such as: “Custom Wheels,” “Car Stereos,” etc. They offer a strong visual impact at very low cost to purchase and operate.
Sign Holders and Logos
Another effective and eye-catching form of visual merchandising that can be seen in most shopping centers is a plastic-framed, foam-core-center sign holder that stands alone or can be hung.
These economical devices offer the look of expensive “mall-quality” signs without the major expense. They come in many sizes and configurations, from easel to three-frame towers.
What is mounted to the centerboard can be as elaborate as a high-quality photo or as simple as a graphic. It’s up to you. Again, choose the image that best represents your company’s unique message to your customers.
Making sure that your logo is prominent within the store is also important. If you use signs to promote off-shelf displays, or to direct attention to new products, ensure that your company name is always included.
Include your logo and slogan on all receipts, forms and documents that will come in contact with the customer. More impressions mean better name retention-always.
There is no doubt that the manufacturers in our industry have spent many creative hours and lots of money developing P.O.P. and visual merchandising devices for the benefit of all. Those displays should be used in conjunction with your own merchandising to enhance your ability to sell.
There’s no better way to get a product’s message to the consumer than the combination of good P.O.P. and your talent. But don’t forget about your message.
Being the best in service and selection only goes as far as your customer’s memory. So it’s important to remind and re-enforce the features and benefits of doing business with you. And there’s no better place to start than your own operation.
Do your homework by searching for what you feel are the best ways for your business to become more memorable to your customer.
Look at other types of retailers, such as sporting goods, apparel and specialized mass merchants. What kinds of methods do they use to build awareness or create excitement?
You may not think these merchants have much in common with your business, but think again. They are competing for the consumer’s attention and, just as important, name retention, just like you.
So self-promote for success. No one will blame you for tooting your own horn. It’s good business, and critical these days to stand out in your customers’ minds.