Strong Product Marketing Includes a Great Customer Experience – Visual and Through Word-Of-Mouth!
We talk a lot about visual merchandising, but not as often about aural merchandising. What are customers hearing about your product while in-store?
You can have eye-catching displays, all your inventory out on shelves, and excellent visual brand presence, but there’s another component: what the retail staff are saying about your products.
Word of mouth can sometimes be undervalued or ignored because it’s hard to control. You can’t guarantee what people are talking about – or can you?
Did you know that when Sara Blakely of Spanx was just starting out, she used to go and stand in stores that carried her products and talk up her product to shoppers? She also sent samples to influential people — that’s part of what got her product on Oprah before she even had an official headquarters.
This level of retail endorsement can go a long way!
Are the in-store staff recommending that people buy your products… or your competitor’s?
There are few different methods you can use to turn the needle in your direction.
1. Offer samples.
Free samples have long been a staple for product marketing, but have you ever thought about who the samples are going to?
While offering samples to customers is great, don’t ignore the retail staff as well. If store policy allows it, offer them samples, too, and follow up for their thoughts and feedback. This personal touch can go a long way to garnering positive recommendations for future customers!
2. Don’t skip product demos.
They work for a reason — tangible customer experience plus someone advocating for your product! However, if you conduct a demo, again, don’t think only of the customer. Think about the retail staff, too. What can the demonstrator do to build in-store relationships?
One example of how well this can work is in a bookstore. If an author comes in to do a reading, for example, but is rude to the staff working there, how likely do you think it is that the staff will recommend that author’s works in the future?
You might consider working with retailers to offer experiences or demos only for retail staff, if possible. This could be a fun team-building exercise and get your products in front of them in a positive light.
3. Equip retail staff with language and stories about your products (but remember the best anecdotes can be their own).
If you want retail staff to talk about your product in a certain way, then you need to communicate that. Just as you might provide visual signage, you can also provide supplementary material about your products. Success stories, testimonials, applications, and beyond.
A caveat on this, however — beware of giving too much information and making it feel overwhelming. Again, the best anecdotes come from personal experience. For example, consider a retail employee who says to a customer “This skincare product is all natural,” vs. “I tried this skincare product and my skin has never felt smoother!”
See the difference?
4. Put your own people in store.
There might be some instances where the retail staff are not engaged, too large to target, or there is another reason why it’s difficult to create relationships.
In these cases, you can use another tactic: putting your own word-of-mouth marketers in place. Product demonstrations are one example of how to do this, or the Sara Blakely/Spanx approach, but it can work in other ways, too.
If you are launching a new product, you might send a brand expert in-store for a few days (or longer) to answer customer questions about it. You could try to negotiate and set up a permanent kiosk or pop-up shop filled with your brand-trained staff.
You could even use mystery shoppers to see what is actually being said about your product in-store.
5. Getting the word out about your brand in other channels.
Today’s consumers are more educated, so aim to reach them before they even come into the store! This is where your brand’s social media presence, website, email marketing, and overall digital presence can be most effective.
The way you go about it can be simple. For instance, see the recent No Name Brands Twitter account that is having a big impact with simple product photography and captions. The goal is to get people talking (in a good way!) about your product before they even go into the store.
Of course, a great word-of-mouth or visual merchandising campaign relies on your product actually being out on shelves!
Take control of your inventory in store and online with Storesupport Canada. We can help ensure that your product is kept in stock, on shelves, and priced correctly, in addition to assisting with in-store promotion and word-of-mouth advertising.
Contact us today to learn more. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit www.storesupport.ca.