Whew! It's already that time of year again. Here we are heading into the 4th quarter, a make or break time for many retailers where traditionally many hope to generate as much as 40% of their annual sales in the last 45 days of the year. Hopefully, you have completed most of your planning and marketing strategy for this crucial period. Luckily, there is one critical area where you can still make a substantial impact on your financial outcome this Holiday Season for a minimal investment. That is by applying the "science of shopping" through effective use of signage.
Why is point-of-sale signage so critically important? There is a brief "Window of Opportunity" you have with every consumer that engages a contact point with your business, either by walking past your store, entering your store, and/or viewing one of the marketing communications you have placed to promote your business. Many market researchers will argue that this "Window of Opportunity" is a mere seconds in length. When your availability to connect with your customer only lasts a few seconds you better WOW them with your message or experience if you expect to capture their business. Even with your "regular" customers, both the number of product options available and the increasing number of media/information channels have eroded the traditional brand loyalty of this consumer. The result is that many more buying decisions are being made in the store itself. It means that shoppers are susceptible to impressions and information they acquire inside stores. Industry marketing guru Pamela Danziger states this eloquently in her book "Let Them Eat Cake": "Over 95% of consumers buy something other than what they went in intending to buy when shopping in a store selling luxury goods."
With quality point-of-sale signage you can have a considerable effect on the traffic flow in your store, the products your customers ultimately purchase, and the products your associates choose to sell. When planning the positioning of your signage, you will most probably do this when the store is empty. Signs are intended to capture their audience and most attention when the store is crowded or full, particularly at Christmas, so take this into account when you are planning your signage strategy. Make sure that you don't put signage where it will be blocked by your customers when they are shopping, and placing a sign just because you have available space for it is a waste of effort and money. Focus your attention on using strategic available space wisely. As with real estate, think location, location, location.
The 4 Types of Signage
- Directional: Exit/Enter, location, and where to go.
- Informational: Special price offers, features & benefits, and inquiries.
- Aspirational: Creates a difference, sets the bar, as in "I Want to Be That."
- Motivational: Starts the shopping process, gets consumers to ask questions, establishes importance to sales associates.
When planning your signage strategy, it is of primary importance to match the type of sign with the correct message zone for each sign. Once again, think location, location, location. Listed below are the message zones in order of importance.
- Wall Near Merchandise: Usually motivational and product oriented.
- Front Windows: First contact with the store. Observe the "2-second" rule. Good for informational, aspirational, and motivational.
- Merchandise Counters: Easiest to put up and take down, but hard to stand out. Can be motivational, aspirational, and informational.
- Way Finders: Mostly short term. Reinforce other zones. Directional/informational.
- Sight Lines/Cash Wrap: Once again short term. Good for informational and to reinforce other zones.
- Floor: Branding in the decompression zone (between the interior and exterior of the store), and possibly in aisles in large stores. Floor graphics that augment the interior of the store.
- Hi & Bye: The first and last impression of the store. Should be changed often. Good for directional and informational.
We have established that location and matching the type of sign with the correct message zone must be priorities to maximize the effectiveness of your in-store signage. Another cardinal rule is to limit your text, and live by the 2-second rule. You have a limited "Window of Opportunity," so use it wisely and stick to your primary message.
When planning your in-store signage strategy, remember that your objective is to motivate consumers with in-store visuals. This means directing them to those products or services that produce the greatest return-on-investment for your store. Direct the traffic flow accordingly and motivate them to purchase with your messaging. Rely on your core vendors to supply you with professional graphics. Most vendors, especially those trying to establish a brand presence in the minds of the consumer, have graphics available free of charge. Last but not least, frequently change your in-store signage to keep it fresh and new, and do so continuously through the year not just during the Holidays. In-store signage is an extremely powerful marketing tool that enables you to influence the buying behavior of your customers at a very marginal cost.
David Ramirez is Executive Director of Brand Development for Dangler Studios in Sarasota, FL. He has a BS degree in Communications from Boston University with a double minor in marketing and advertising. His twenty seven years of industry experience include seven years at J. Walter Thompson as a brand consultant to the Diamond Trading Company, and other notable industry leaders A. Jaffe, Frederick Goldman, and Spark Creations.