By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc.
Ever drive down the road and out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of a 20-foot pink gorilla in a bathing suit on top of a store?
That is a retailer attempting to overcome what I call the “retail wallpaper syndrome.” The wallpaper syndrome is what happens to a retailer over time as their store becomes a familiar part of the shopping terrain, often overlooked by customers of all kinds. It isn’t that the retailer’s store has deteriorated or become unsightly; rather the store has blended into the retail landscape. It has become wallpaper.
Customers who may have patronized your new store when it first opened may now be looking past it due to the familiarity of the surroundings. Savvy retailers need to shake it up a bit on occasion to continue to keep their store top-of-mind. The pink gorilla may not have anything to do with what is in the store, but what it has done is force the customer to re-look at the store and be reminded of it.
Add Shock Value! You can change your store appearance by creating excitement with attention-getting items, such as search lights or a cold-air balloon. You may want to consider themed attention-getting items that either tie in with your store’s concept or to the community. For instance, placing a cold-air balloon on top of your roof with the mascot of the local sports team makes you look like a “team player” in the community. Adding a four-light searchlight in front of your store, for instance, conveys to your customers that something exciting is happening in it—a significant sale, a celebrity visit or your store’s anniversary.
Become Alive: If you use a mascot, have the mascot walk the strip center or the cross streets to help draw attention to your store. Your mascot should be scheduled in intervals in order not to have them become wallpaper as well. The main goal is to “shake up” the landscape to create attention and maintain top-of-mind awareness. Any type of animated signage helps bring your brand alive, in addition to drawing attention to your store.
Create A “Call-to-Action”: While some of the “showings” of your visibility tools are purely brand awareness, others, such as being at the street with a “call-to-action” promotional board sign that tells the customer to “come into your store RIGHT NOW,” can be measured by impulse sales. A sample goal would be to get three customers an hour to purchase impulse products. At a $10 ticket, that would translate into $30/day x 5 days x 52 weeks = $7,800 in sales—all for one hour of work. Mixing up the types of attention-grabbers throughout the year can allow you to continually attract impulse buyers.
Organize A Strategy: Create a thematic approach to the use of these attention-getting devices that follow all of your other Local Store Marketing activities. For instance, if you are planning a store event on a Saturday, having a mascot at the street during high traffic times for the five previous days with a sign that describes the event and a countdown of days to the event (i.e. five days left, four days left, etc.) is an excellent way to raise awareness for your upcoming event. Break through the retail wallpaper by developing an ongoing calendar to utilize attention-getting items in-store, at the street, and throughout your three-mile trade area. Scheduling moving signage at the curb can entice potential customers as they drive past your store to pull in, helping eliminate the “retail wallpaper syndrome” that all retailers face. Use a variety of attention-grabbing devices to draw renewed attention to your store.
Breaking through the retail wallpaper syndrome is synonymous with grabbing a customer’s attention. Your attention-getting actions should act like placing a proverbial 2X4 in the spokes of every customer that goes by, in order to get them to look at your store. Do not take your customers for granted, or you’ll find yourself watching them visit your competition.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.