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Marketing: Visual Merchandising

08/08/2016

Marketing. It is a teeth-gnashing subject that has to happen. The main challenge is that marketing is fluid. In terms of marketing, there are very few permanent rules; marketing transitions with the finicky ebb and flow of the purchasers’ sea. There are a few mainstays, though, when it comes to visual merchandising. Check out our top 3 mainstays below as well as a few helpful hints!

Visual Marketing: Time-tested mainstays

Spatial Design

First thing’s first, start with your set up. Before you put any merchandise at all on the shelves, ensure your location is prepared to accept merchandise. I know it sounds counterintuitive but go to a mall. Walk through the various different beauty stores. These companies have mastered visual marketing to customers (your potential clients.) Notice something? All of their payment areas are set back from the entrance. This gives the products a chance to shine in a stress-free way for the purchaser. The same concept holds true in a salon or spa.

From there, work on your flow. Is there ample space for wheelchairs? Are your shelves set up in such a way that you have the opportunity to tell a story with the products you carry once they are on the shelves? What does your reception area look like?

The pros suggest ditching most ideas of full-sized furniture (unless you have an XL space.) When you have a ‘cozy’ (aka small) sitting space in the reception area, clients are encouraged to walk the retail space. This also goes for oversized bookshelves and cabinets for display. While they may look Pinterest-worthy, it sets a tone of “look, but don’t touch” and you WANT your clients to touch. Instead, try clear plexi for stands and tables. These materials create an open and inviting space. They can also be draped with fabric for a quick and inexpensive theme change – which brings us to visuals.

Visual design

Once you have the space figured out, know your products. Use your products to tell a story. Is your establishment known for its dedication to holistic skincare? Tell that story with your merchandising. Does the majority of your revenue come from anti-aging treatments? Tell a story of youth with your products. This also falls into knowing your customer base. Use that knowledge to decide of what imagery you want to use. Is the majority of your revenue coming from hi-tech advancements in skincare? Create a more scientific feel in your reception area and tell that story through imagery and coordinating products.

Now that visual themes are in place, let’s get those displays in order. As the old adage goes: eye height is buy height. Most people throughout the retail area are looking while standing. Keep products waist height through eye height, as well as shading from darkest at the bottom to lightest at the top in order to keep the space weighted. Keep the theme consistent and complementary.

Customer Clairvoyance

We need to sometimes think ahead for the customer. This is where the importance of a story comes in. Customers need to be guided through that story through consistent themes and strategic product placement. This product placement should have a focus at each display, as well as supporting products for that focus. For instance, have the sunscreen displayed with the after sun care (instead skin cleansers and moisturizers); Bikini’s (if you sell them) with the hair removal post care; mud mask with spa head wraps and candles/aromatherapy. All of these tell a story that your customer can visually see his or herself being a part of. Keep displayed products at an odd number. IE: 3 or 5 key products on display. The same rule of 3 that makes Instagram images a huge hit works in visual retailing as well. This same rule keeps the clutter to a minimum.

Visual marketing: Tips and Tricks

Presentation

Once all the mainstays are checked off the list, you can move on to the presentation. This is more artistic and flexible. Lighting can play a huge role in your product sales. Use lighting to bring focus to your themes. Highlight any product labels you are trying to focus on, backlight any shapes you find integral to your story.

Also, make sure your tables/shelves have descriptors on them with prices. Everyone’s favorite bath product store, Lush, is a great example of applying this practice with their clear and concise signs highlighting the top purposes of a product as well as price. More often than not, if a customer has to ask too many specifics about the product, they won’t bother and skip over it.

Speaking of skipping over, make sure to make it nearly impossible for them to do so by having testers! When a client/customer is able to actively insert themselves into that storyline you’ve created, they are more likely to take it home. Let them touch, squeeze and sniff.

Client vs Customer: The difference a window can make

Clients come in regularly. They book appointments, and, in theory, have already been warmed up to the products on the sales floor in the treatment room. For clients, you might offer a package deal with services and products, or a discount program or an upsell at the ‘cash wrap.’ But, have you thought about the non-client?

Even mild to moderate foot traffic around your location has the potential to bring in a sale. Take an afternoon walk to get to know your area. What are the shoppers near you interested in? Is it something you can provide them with in terms of retail? Have a display window with common use products. Keep it in theme with the story you want to tell once that customer comes in. Keep window wording to a minimum, but highly visible. Every other month switch it up to keep it fresh. And don’t forget about digital marketing. Create a QR code to display on the outside of your building with a direct link to your website, or your snapcode if you are on Snapchat.

Note, Notes, and more Notes

Someone once said if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. This is ever true in marketing. Notes help to plan. Once done setting up your displays, snap a picture at different times of the day. Review the pictures and decide what you might want to change. Store the pictures in a file and take notes. Did this display set up work for your business? Did it bring in new traffic? Were you able to convert the new customers into new clients? What do you think you should change for your next display? All of these questions will enable you to find trends specific to your business and fine tune your technique.

Above all, enjoy yourself! Your story will come through in your presentation. Relish in the success of a great display and learn from the ones that didn’t do so well.

Have a display tip that worked well for you? Comment below and share with our community of innovators!

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