Create Convenience Store Point-Of-Sale Campaigns That Crush It & Grow Your Sales.

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.

17 Reasons You Don’t Use Marketing To Grow Your Convenience Store Sales & Customer Counts.

1. You don’t know how to begin.

2. You don’t understand modern retail marketing concepts and tactics.

3. You don’t want to.

4. You don’t think it’s needed.

5. You think it’s a waste of money.

6. You think it’s an expense.

7. You think it cannot be measured. ROI.

8. You have nothing to market.

9. Your stores are not different than your competitors.

10. Your stores are worse than your competitors.

11. You are waiting for the next Magical Product to be available to save you

12. You don’t think you are creative.

13. You don’t have anyone to help you do it.

14. You think your competitors’ marketing is way ahead of you, so you think ‘what’s the use?’

15. You’ve never held a basic marketing plan in your hands.

16. You believe cokes and smokes will still get customers in your store.

17. You think Amazon, AmazonGo, and Dollar stores selling gas are a passing fad.

Here’s the truth.

Some of the most successful retailers today started as one store many years ago.

What they initiated that you haven’t YET is they worked EVERY DAY to create new value for customers, differentiated that new value, and THEN communicated it to customers with marketing.

Then customers responded by trying out this new value. They came to the stores and bought stuff.

They loved it, and did I again and again.

Even in the convenience store space, the big players of today were ALL smaller players years ago.

The one theme you’ll see time and time again is the work they did to create new value, differentiate it, then market it.

It works every time it’s honestly tried.

And you can do it too. You simply have to start, today. And do it with the resources you have at hand and can afford.

As your marketing gains traction and sales success, you’ll gather more steam and resources and momentum.

That’s when it gets fun, you start to really compete (even against the big boys) and even start to kick a little convenience store ass.

When I wrote the marketing and promotional plans for Sheetz when I worked at an ad agency for them, (1993-2000) I created and implemented my own set of 25 marketing tactics that helped catapult their growth.

In my recently published Marketing Manifesto For Convenience Stores, I outline them for any convenience store retailer to use, whether you have 5 stores, or 155.

Email for a FREE copy. It’ll change your business life. I guarantee it.

And one final thought for those of you non-believers who think it’s still too late to begin your own marketing program:

Q: ”When is the best time to plant at tree?”

A: “20 years ago…and today”

Start now. Create new value now. Market now.

Plant your tree. Light your fuse.

Tim Lazor, President.



The Parable Of The Magical C-Store Product

Once upon a time, there was a convenience store owner.

And everyday, the owner looked to save pennies on his purchases. He tried to save pennies on the coffee he bought. He was always fearful of the customer who took a couple of creamers with him. So the owner tried to save even more on his coffee by not brewing as often.

The owner tried to save pennies from his distributors, beating his rep up on every purchase. Sometimes the owner even left his store to go to Sam’s Club to save pennies on items like coffee and candy.

And even though foodservice was the future of c-store profits, the owner never considered it because it would require investment, and since he was busy saving pennies, he never risked in that area.

He wanted to save pennies instead of creating new customers and sales.

Then one day, a Sheetz convenience store opened across the street.

And the owner lost sales and customers. Gas customers. Coffee customers. Candy customers. And since the owner had no food program, there was no reason to visit his store for the convenience of food.

And since the owner never marketed his store because he had never created any marketplace differentiation–he had no reason to–and sales and profits took a nosedive.

The owner decided to go to the NACS convention in Las Vegas that year. He heard that if you walk the show and attend the educational sessions, you would learn that there were “Magical Products,” new products you could put in your store, sell without effort, and reap the high profits of these Magical Products.

The owner arrived in Las Vegas, and walked the show, in search of the Magical Product.

One morning, he attended an educational session called “How To Make Your Store Unique, Different & Profitable. And How To Market It.”

The owner was intrigued.

But the presenter did not offer magic…or magical products. No, he offered that the store owners ask themselves questions like:

Why did you really get into this business?

What are your personal passions about your business?

Why are you and your store unique?

Why is your store a destination like no other?

What is one thing you can offer to customers that no one else can?

If you went out of business tomorrow, would the world miss you? Would they notice? Would there be a hole in the market? Why? Or why not?

The store owner felt himself getting angry. And so were the owners in the audience. They shouted:

“Our cokes and smokes sales are dying! We demand answers! What should we do?”

“Our gas margins are down! What can we do?”

“We heard there were magical products here, and you are telling us to differentiate ourselves and our stores! We want our convention money back!”

But the presenter persisted…

“The secret is in how you see your stores. You want to save pennies and believe you can “save” your way to success and profits. It’s impossible.

“Instead, ask yourself: “How can I create NEW VALUE for my customers around my gasoline program in the forecourt?

“How can I create NEW VALUE for customers at the Backcourt? In the four linear feet in front of the registers?

“How can I create NEW VALUE for customers with my coffee and fountain areas?

“How can I create NEW VALUE for customers in foodservice, at the cooler doors? Lottery? Check cashing? In the restrooms?

“How can I create NEW VALUE for customers in center store? The way my store is designed?

“The reason you are under siege from competitors is BECAUSE YOU LET THEM TAKE CUSTOMERS AWAY FROM YOU. You thought saving pennies would save the day. It won’t, and never will.”

The mob was silent.

They realized—begrudgingly–he was right. There was no mythical or magical product to save the day. There was no rescue coming.

The secret was there was no secret.

It was all hard work.

When the convenience store owner got back home, he pulled out a piece of paper, took a deep breath as he looked across the street at his competitor, and wrote at the top of the page:

“10 Things I Can Do Now To Create More Value For My Customers.”

#1. _________

The End.

Tim Lazor, President.



My One Intention For Convenience Store Retailers

My Intention?

It’s to help change your performance. Challenge your outdated ways of c-store thinking, and challenge you and the way you operate, differentiate and most importantly, market your c-store.

If you are still reading, we have similar ideologies. That’s good.

Why the challenge? So you can attract new customers. Profitable customers. Repeat customers. Larger basket-ring customers.

To help you compete and thrive, instead of just survive, in a competitive landscape dominated by big players with deep pockets. In a market with new competitors like Amazon, Amazon Go, gopuff, and DGX stores. New gas outlets. New QSRs.

And let’s be honest. The retail industry got here by not changing and being stagnant and complacent.

Disruption like this never happens overnight.

It happens when you’re asleep.

Now you are under siege, looking for answers and real partners to help you, right?

Let me ask you, who’s on your side? Manufacturers? Not really. They usually give you one size fits all programs that benefit them, regardless of your customer base, location or market.

Your distributor? Many of them are simply reps for manufacturers. And let’s be really honest. You want rock-bottom prices from them, thinking you will “save” your way to success and profit.

And when that doesn’t work, you bitch at them when they don’t bring you new ideas and initiatives.[1]

But how can they invest in you when you won’t invest in them? When you are driven by low price alone?

Finally, what marketing and consulting firms are real experts in the convenience industry, and can help you uncover your differentiation and market it in a smart, strategic and affordable way? Help you create new value for customers and then communicate and market that value?

There aren’t many.

The good news is this: Even with all of the industry disruption in the c-store category, it’s ALSO creating new opportunities for you and your stores. It is. And if you are open to it, we can explore those opportunities together.

But if you think you can run a store that is a step above a junk store, this challenge is not for you. If you think you can run a store without the fundamentals of great coffee, solid and custom planograms, some sort of food program, a clean store with clean restrooms and safe lighting, this isn’t for you.

If you spend your time at NACS praying to find the next Magical Product that will save you because you ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS just put it on your shelf and it sells itself, this thinking is not for you.

Why? Because there is no magic, no secret, no hack. (As much as we all want one.)

It’s all hard work. It’s creative work. It’s innovative and passionate work. It’s marketing work. And it never ends.

So, if you’re open to taking a baby step on that journey of change, join me here…

‘Cause we’re about to kick some c-store ass, take some names, and catapult your store’s performance to new levels of profit and success.

What have you got to lose?

Remember, fortune favors bold actions. And there is no profit without risk.

Come on; let’s kick that first ass…

…It’s gonna be fun.

Tim Lazor, President.

[1] There are exceptional distributors out there who will add tremendous value to your stores. One is TeamSledd

How CEOs Make Great Marketing Decisions.


By Tim Lazor, President

How Great CEOs Make The Smartest Marketing Decisions.

Great CEOs know that marketing, and growing new sales and new customers involves the whole company…an “all hands on deck” mindset.

They also know there is no “magic bullet” when it comes to communicating a company’s products and services differences to customers.

It’s all hard work, 24/7.

This recent biz article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Ampco-Pitt is a great example of how CEO John Stanik took over a struggling company, stabilized, then started growing it.

It’s worth a read. But more importantly, I see five ADDITIONAL insights for any CEO trying to create new customers in a tough, mature industry.

  1. He recognized the lack of sales and a strategic marketing plan.That’s not news. Rather, look at how quickly Mr. Stanik took action and implemented his plan. No mention of endless meetings and committees delaying action. Nope. Just create a plan and implement the plan. Quickly. Today, more than ever staying quick on your feet and flexible in your actions gives your company the best chance to thrive.
  2. Committed to smash the status quo.It may seem like a small thing, buried in this article, but when Mr. Stanik moved the headquarters from the palatial USX tower out to the plant in Carnegie, this was a huge signal to the organization. It got senior management closer to the “pain” both the company and the industry were going through, and most likely generated ideas on how to solve them. Brilliant move.
  3. Found immediate ways to save money and stabilize the company.There’s an old saying in business: “when you control your costs, you control your future.” Mr. Stanik instinctively knew that the survival of the company was at stake. Reducing costs is step one. Building “operational muscle” is usually step two. Step three is to begin your outbound marketing process.
  4. Targeted new markets and created new customers.Again, you’ll see that Mr. Stanik did something shrewd and smart. He did not start introducing costly and elaborate new products requiring new investment. Rather, he found no-cost ways to create products and market and into new industries where there was growth potential. Once that market segmentation is successful, I guarantee you the cool new products will follow.
  5. Got new investors excited in the company with smart communication. I would defy anyone to find a business category today–no matter how old, how competitive, or how “boring” someone might think it is—that there is always new opportunity just below the surface. And if you’re willing to get closer to your customers, closer to your employees and the pain of your company, and just a little bit creative and innovative, your company will always find its way.

Tim Lazor 


On Your Media Budgets…

At Lazor Yost, Greg and I tell Clients all the time:

All media work. They all have strengths and weaknesses. But they all work. And note well: You have to do ENOUGH media, i.e. buy and achieve a level of media reach and frequency to break through the sludge of message and media clutter.

If you do that, you’ll actually be teaching your potential customers with repetition. and they will respond to your marketing message.

It works. There’s no secret formula to achieving success.

And if you can’t afford the minimum amount of media to break through right now?

Save your budget until you can afford it.

Or simply drop those monies to your bottom line.

Or find other creative ways to initiate your message to customers.

That’s smart business…

…and very smart marketing.

Tim Lazor, President