Thought Leadership

6 mistakes killing your in-store marketing campaigns.

It’s painful, isn’t it? You work for months planning the perfect campaign across hundreds of stores. The design is perfect, the proofs look fantastic, and the installation instructions are sent. You even received photos from your flagship store, and it looks amazing! A job well done. Until, of course, your boss happens to be on holiday in Burnham-on-Sea and finds that one display with an empty window and not enough posters. Unfortunately, working with thousands of stores, many of our clients have similar issues. So we thought we’d share common mistakes that are killing your in-store marketing campaigns and how to fix them.

The importance of effective in-store marketing

Effective in-store marketing can enhance the customer experience and increase revenues. It plays a critical role in the retail marketing mix as it is responsible for helping customers navigate your stores, promoting special offers or products, and promoting your brand. 

In footballing terms, your in-store campaigns are like your strikers. You use TV, Radio, and Billboards are your wingers who cross the ball into the box, so the customer is teed up and excited. And then it’s up to your in-store marketing to complete the transaction and score the goals. It’s where the battle is won and lost. But we see so many in-store marketing mistakes, and unfortunately, anything that goes wrong in marketing is usually very obvious and very public. These are often the difference between making the sale and the customer leaving empty-handed – or worse yet, not even entering the store.

6 mistakes killing in-store marketing campaigns.

At Colateral, we’ve audited thousands of stores, reviewing their in-store marketing to understand what works. Here are 6 mistakes killing in-store marketing campaigns and how to solve them.

1. Not executing campaigns on time.

We’ve all seen the handwritten signs in shop windows. We’re not talking about the artisan handwritten messages on windows (which are fantastic when on-brand). No, we mean the ones where the store manager ran out to buy some A3 paper and magic markers and gave them to the person with the neatest handwriting to scribble a message because the proper materials didn’t arrive in time. Alternatively, they may find something in the back from a previous campaign to use to “fill the gap”.

Either way, this doesn’t look great, and it’s killing your promotions. Usually, poor campaign management causes misalignment and missed deadlines. The result is that store teams must ‘pull something together for a couple of days until the promo materials arrive and feel the brunt of criticism as their stores suffer.

The best way to fix this is with effective in-store campaign management software. You need a system that aligns teams across marketing, creative, print and stores to collaborate on the campaign fully. Additionally, you need set dates and sufficient buffer time built into each stage to ensure campaigns are delivered on time.

2. Poorly aligned Marketing and Merchandising.

As a marketing leader, you must maintain alignment between marketing and merchandising teams. A well-oiled machine ensures that on-brand messaging directs shoppers to well-positioned and carefully selected products to maximise revenues. However, merchandising and marketing teams often operate in silos, with limited visibility of each other’s plans and ineffective collaboration.

Unfortunately, this often leads to stock-outs, lost sales and trapped inventory at the store level. We are currently seeing the issue that mistakes in merchandising planning are causing, with retailers reporting trapped inventory up to 14%. Now it’s critical that retailers can align their marketing and merchandising teams with shifting stock as effectively as possible.

The key to resolving this issue relies on analysing data, having a clear plan, and having regular meetings. It’s critical, especially during challenging periods, that you have access to real-time consumer insights, conduct regular customer surveys and stay up to date with current events. By having a clear picture of these moving parts, you will be able to react quickly to emerging trends. Additionally, alignment is only possible with a dynamic marketing calendar that maps out the planned activity and upcoming events, is available to both parties, and updates dynamically as plans change. However, having a sharable plan is only effective alongside regular, impactful meetings. Ensure you are bringing the latest insights to meetings and discussing a combination of short, medium and long-term objectives in line with the plan.

3. Too much flash without substance.

With emerging technologies including Amazon Go, Artificial Intelligence, 5G, and even digital displays, it’s easy to be drawn into the hype. While it’s important to innovate and stay current with the latest trends, retailers should be choiceful about their investments. Some of these technologies will require huge transformation to physical spaces, and you must evaluate the pros and cons before jumping in with both feet. We all remember Tesco’s failed implementation of digital signage.

Digital signs are more popular now and are found in many stores. However, their impact is debatable. You may be sold on the long-term cost savings compared to print, but realistically, the upfront cost will take a decade to recoup in savings. And, you will still have some print in your stores, so you cannot write off that expense. In addition, you now need more engaging content video content for your in-store promotions.

This doesn’t mean that they cannot be effective. The failure of Tesco TV was down to a lack of consumer behaviour research. Problems with advertising to shoppers could have been foreseen with small testing samples.

Instead, when planning your in-store campaigns, take a data-driven approach to the tools and technology you use. Identify the obstacles that prevent purchases and create a campaign to overcome the obstacles or achieve your goals. Then consider the tactical execution of your campaigns, be that on digital displays or signage.

4. Sending the wrong signage to stores.

Every store is unique. They each have those slight quirks that make them a little different. Even the custom-built locations have different features. It’s what makes each store great and engaging for shoppers. But for marketers, it can be a nightmare. Trying to execute a national campaign across hundreds of stores that are all different, with different quantities, sizes, and orientations of windows. Let alone every other fixture and fitting in every store and any unique displays that require slightly different display types.

Complex spreadsheets for material allocations, company intranets for sharing detailed instructions and printed planograms may have had a place in the past. However, trying to do that now seems like dribbling a basketball with your face. Instead, store profile management systems can hold detailed information about each location, including the fixtures, fittings, features, and measurements. When your store profiles are linked to stock ordering systems, you simply create campaign assets, select which stores you want in your campaign, and ensure that you send the right quantities of the right materials to the right stores. This not only prevents mistakes but reduces overs ordering and saves money, too.

5. Damaged or incorrect signage.

Sometimes, you can do everything right from a management perspective; the design is spot-on, the materials are correct and going to the right stores, but the collateral is damaged. This could be how it is delivered, an accident during installation, or general wear-and-tear through the campaign life cycle. These things happen, and there’s no accounting for it sometimes. However, it’s important that when these issues happen, you resolve them quickly.

How often do you hear about compliance issues with a campaign from your regional manager a few days after launch? If you find out 2 days late, that’s 2 days lost. And with every moment counting, it’s time you cannot afford to lose.

It’s important to get regular feedback from your store teams when you need it. Send feedback forms to complete after installation, and request photos of the display. Additionally, schedule the same checks regularly throughout the campaign lifecycle and upon completion. By requesting this information when it occurs, you can ensure you identify and resolve issues efficiently.

Learn how we helped Paddy Power increase in-store campaign compliance from 42% to 100% with Colateral.

6. Ineffective messaging.

When running in-store campaigns, it’s critical to remember their overall purpose. You are creating signage to entice shoppers into your store, increase sales for important products and categories, and point customers in the right direction. Your in-store campaigns must be as effective as your hyper-targeted online content.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose sight of this objective when creating campaigns. With fluctuating moving parts, multiple stakeholders to manage, and mistakes to avoid, sometimes the message gets forgotten in favour of getting something out. Additionally, Retailers now have vast data about customer segments but struggle to deliver in-store marketing tailored to those segments. However, if marketers could automate even 80% of their time spent maintaining store databases, sending emails and managing spreadsheets, they could focus on crafting impactful localised in-store marketing that drives revenues. It’s all about freeing up your talented, highly qualified marketers from the monotony of spreadsheet management so they can add value.

It’s time to stop taking the blame.

Of course, no one sets out to make mistakes. These things happen while you and the team work tirelessly to execute brilliant marketing. We always resolve to “do better next time” and “learn from our mistakes”. It’s easy to see what you could have done better in hindsight.

But now it’s time to stop blaming ourselves and realise we don’t have the right tools for the job in the modern day.

Colateral provides the kind of foresight that captain hindsight could only dream of!  We make these mistakes easily preventable and avoidable. And for any that do slip through the cracks, we give you real-time visibility of what’s happened, so you can resolve it quickly. So, you can spend less time worrying about mistakes and more time doing work that matters!

Check out this blog for more information about what to look for in an in-store marketing system.

Or get in touch with us to learn more.

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