I’m always AMAZED at how MEDIOCRE point-of-sale (POS) campaigns are executed by convenience stores.
When referring to point-of-sale campaigns, I’m including pump toppers, window signs, digital signs, road signs, social media offers, employee tee shirts, buttons, banners, danglers, displays, shelf talkers and anything else used to communicate to customers at a convenience store to get them to buy something specific.
Bland manufacturer-driven offers like Two cans of snuff four $3.49…buy 2 bottles energy drinks for $2.99…2 bags of chips for this, two bottles of that for this….
Please, put me to sleep. Any store can do this. There’s NOTHING unique about it.
You could close your eyes, and I could drop you inside any one of 100 different convenience stores today… and when you open your eyes and look at the point-of-sale, you’d have no idea what specific convenience store you’re in.
It doesn’t have to be this way. And it shouldn’t. Your business is better than that.
But before we get into the tactics of really EFFECTIVE point-of-sale campaigns that drive sales, I’d like to ask you three foundational questions about your store(s).
The purpose of these three questions is to challenge your thinking and push you to begin uncovering your larger, DIFFERENTIATED retail business strategy that every convenience store owner should have. The answers to these questions will directly affect and improve your POS campaigns.
The Three FOUNDATIONAL Questions
1. What do you believe about your convenience stores that make them unique and different from competitors? And what is your specific point of view about the convenience store industry and its customers today?
2. What is the new value you are creating for customers this month? What is the new value you are creating in your stores to get new customers onto your lot and into your stores buying more stuff?
3. Before you create a new point-of-sale marketing campaign, what specific competitors do you want to challenge with it? Who will you take business from?
Most convenience store owners and executives have never been asked (or answered) these types of questions. And it’s one reason their point-of-sale programs are dull, as well as some of their other marketing programs as well.
Again, no reason it has to be this way. You can drive more sales with your own focused and imaginative POS programs.
So how do you do it? What are the tactics?
1. Create your point-of-sale campaign for a specific target audience
It’s not just “Bubba” who shops convenience stores today. It’s women, teens, even seniors. Good point of sales campaigns should be designed to sell a specific product at a specific price to a specific target audience while conveying your company’s unique point of difference and the value it creates.
Let’s create an example. Suppose you want to introduce new CDB (Cannabis-based products) in a point-of-sale campaign. Ask yourself first who the target audience is for this product, and why would they use it?
With a little bit of research, you’ll find the target audience is male and female, 18 to 35, and this target audience uses CDB products to reduce pain, relax, or just enhance their overall feeling of health.
Now, as you start the creation of the point-of-sale campaign with you marketing or creative team, they will have started with specific benefits that are relevant to a specific target audience. This is the essential first step in creating a great point-of-sale campaign at your convenience store that moves lots of product.
2. Demand a bigger idea or a “hook” in your point-of-sale campaign
Big marketing ideas are the engines of the convenience store business.
And there is BOTH art and science to coming up with big retail ideas that are relevant to your target audience.
The only way I know to uncover them is through collaboration with your marketing and creative team, and getting into the weeds with any research data you can uncover about your next point-of-sale campaign. It’s work. It’s hard. And many retailers don’t want to do it.
Innovation takes time. And it is not always efficient. But the big ideas are always born in the research. And they are always worth it.
Finally, if you have the hunger to grow, have the “Eye of the Tiger” and want to be a leader in the convenience store industry and in your market, you have to carve out some time to collaborate with your marketing team and generate big retail ideas for your business.
3. Attach sales goals to your point-of-sale campaign
Let’s return to the CDB example. Pretend 2000 people shop your 3 stores each week. That is 24,000 potential customers per month. Take an educated guess at how many fit the criteria of the target audience. Let’s estimate it is 30%. 24,000 customers per month times 30% equals 7200 potential CDB buyers who might want to try these new products in a month.
Of course you won’t sell everyone with your point-of-sale campaign, but maybe you get 15%. 7200 potential CDB customers X 15% equals 1080 customers who buy.
1018 X $20 avg. purchase of this product = $21,600 in sales and a gross margin of 60% equals $12,960 profit.
If you run the POS for two months, you could end up with $25,920 profit.
Finally, let’s say you invested $3000 into the design and printing of your point-of-sale campaign. Subtract that from the $25,920 and your final payout from the point-of-sale campaign is $22, 920.
The Point: It’s only by being specific about the target audience and the specific sales goals of a point-of-sale campaign that you have success.
4. Create point-for-sale for the medium that carries the message
How many times have you stood at a gas pump trying to read the offer on the pump topper at night and the typeface was too small, too thin, and to far down on the pump topper (blocked view) to understand the complete offer? What did you do? You ignored it.
How many times have you seen a window sign placed on the inside of tinted glass making it impossible to read?
This is what I mean by designing for the specific media the point-of-sale campaign appears on. Many avoidable mistakes happen right here. Two pieces of advice: First, keep it simple. Two, with today’s technology, you can inexpensively print out some of your point-of-sale pieces and try them at your store. Look at them critically. Do they grab attention? Do they make sense and are easy to understand? Are you excited by the offer? Would you buy this product? Is it different and valuable?
Just use your common sense here, and look at your point-of-sale campaign as a customer would, and you’ll have more success.
5. Point of sale campaigns must communicate first; be creative second.
Your creative team wants to be just that: creative. And that’s what you want them to be when they are reflecting what you believe about your business. You want them to communicate the new value that you bring to customers. You want them challenging your competitors.
HOWEVER….if your creative team brings you a point-of-sale campaign that is really clever and creative but does not communicate the core product offering, it is your job to reject it.
You reject it because the point-of-sale campaign is off strategy, not communicating clearly, and won’t achieve your specific sales goals (See # 3 above). When thousands of people are exposed to your POS message each week, you cannot afford confusion; or worse, being ignored.
The rule of thumb here is: communicate the POS offer clearly first, then creatively.
6. Consider the “tone” of your point-of-sale campaign
Since your convenience store is a unique reflection of you and what you believe See #1 above) i.e., the reason customers do business with you, make sure that tone is reflected in your point-of-sale campaign. It will influence things like copy, typeface and photo selection, and add one more layer of unique communication to your point-of-sale campaign.
7. Minimize words
It’s nearly impossible, but if you can communicate your offer with only visuals, do it.
As you add words/pricing to your point-of-sale campaign, challenge yourself to only include as much copy is needed to communicate the offer, and that’s it.
Remember: it’s a visual world. Make it work for your point-of-sale campaign in a world of distracted customers.
8. Know what specific action you want the customer to take
Political campaigns and point-of-sale campaigns are similar in this regard: they leave nothing to chance. They know exactly what they want the voter/customer to do after being exposed to the message. Grab a product inside the convenience store? Where? Commissary? Display? Cooler? Visit a website? Find a coupon on their smart phone? Sign up for a loyalty program?
Getting customers to take action is everything in a point-of-sale campaign. Leave nothing to chance. Tell them what to do. Then Ask for the sale.
9. Have fun.
The convenience store business is competitive and tough. Creating really effective point-of-sale campaigns is work. But the results are worth it. If you collaborate with your creative team to put together point-of-sale campaigns, have some fun and use your sense of humor as well.
C-Store customers are great people. It’s a great industry, and a great way to make a living.