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Success Depends on Carrying Over Your Marketing Message to the Retail Floor

Aug 17, 2007
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I decided to spend a day in the yard raking up the last of my fall leaves. Not wanting to lose my belt-clipped cell phone during the process, I removed it, placed it on the counter and did my best to corral the leaves that ultimately would fill 23 yard bags.

After completing my chore, I went to retrieve my phone, but instead of finding it on the counter where I had left it, I found it submerged in the dog's water dish at my feet. It seems that the vibrating ring tone gave my cell phone just enough mobility to walk to the edge of the counter and take the plunge into the drink.

Replacing the phone involved a sales procedure I'm sure all marketers would like to mimic, but very few can. It involved me setting an appointment with a sales consultant, who actually understood the various cell phones being offered and the service plans that were available- a 45-minute visit with the sales consultant and me walking out the door not only with a new phone and higher-priced service plan, but also an entirely new commitment to a broadband wireless Internet service via the mobile phone network.

Compare my experience to another high-tech consumer shopping experience that will be repeated over and over this holiday season: shoppers seeking an HDTV from Santa. Many walk into an electronics store after seeing an ad in the newspaper or a commercial on television convinced that they want the high-def viewing experience but fuzzy on the details. They engage in a conversation with a sales associate who may be selling HDTVs one day, computer peripherals the next and maybe even a kitchen range the next. Customers ask questions, sales associates do their best to answer, but things get murky -so much so that as many as 30 percent of HDTV owners don't sign up to receive an HD signal via cable or satellite, according to a recent article in USA Today.

Oh how the Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung and other HDTV manufacturers must pine to create a sales experience involving their products like the one I had buying my new cell phone!

Consider this: In 2006, total spending on advertising in the United States will exceed $150 billion, according to an article from Metrics 2.0. Yet once an ad runs in a newspaper or magazine or a commercial is played back on television, the amount of control a marketer can exert on messaging, consumer education, and influencing a purchasing decision dissipates rapidly. How many marketers get a little queasy thinking about the money they've spent on an ad that motivates a consumer to go to a store to buy their product, only to have those shoppers redirected by a sales associate into buying a competitor's product? Compare that to my friendly sales associate who educated and influenced my cell phone purchase in an environment that the cellular service provider controlled.

While it's not practical for all the HDTV manufacturers -or those of other products- to offer their products in their own stores where they control the sales process as thoroughly as my cell phone salesman, it is important that marketers begin to see retail stores as a communications medium, according to a recent MediaPost.com article.

In "In-Store Media Significant Influence on Purchase Decisions," author Jack Loechner quotes Joe Pilotta, vice president of research for BIGresearch, as saying that "the store is a medium of communications" and "media has relevance and influence on a purchase decision."

That's where digital signage can stand in for a knowledgeable sales consultant like the one I encountered. Digital signage can carry through the marketing message transmitted in newsprint or on TV to the point of purchase, relieving to a large degree, the nausea that strikes marketers who wonder what happens when they're ads are no longer present to influence events.The Bigresearch study quoted in the article found that in-store TV influenced or greatly influenced 10 percent of adults 18 years old and up in making purchasing decisions. The tie between in-store TV and digital signage is obvious. What might not be as obvious is that digital signage can play a strategic role for marketers and retailers when it comes to shelf coupons and special displays, which influenced or greatly influenced shoppers 39.5 percent and 35.5 percent of shoppers, respectively. Digital signage plays in this space -particularly in terms of shelf coupons- when set up with the right software and hardware to do double duty as an interactive kiosk.

What's needed to pull off this carry though in marketing messages to the store floor is deep sixing old attitudes and concepts about marketing and planning ways to use digital signage strategically to re-enforce and expand upon the print and broadcast ads that currently command the biggest share of the marketing budget. Doing so may soon mean the difference between success and failure.
About the Author
David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media. Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons. For further insight, download my free white paper Why Digital Signage Works.
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