Improving the in-store experience

In-store marketing can be the baptismal waters for immersion into your brand. Done wrong, it’ll be completely invisible – or even worse, an absolute annoyance. Done right, it’ll lead your customer to do exactly what you want. So how can you do in-store marketing the right way? Here are a few tips to get you started.


Much of the in-store signage we see is, fundamentally, way-finding signage. Whether it’s pulling customers into a sale or pushing them through to purchase, much of this communication should be done under the guise of moving them around to desired locations. If you want to guarantee results, a pop-up banner or a suspended sign alone isn’t going to cut it. You need to tap into something different: Architectural ushering. It’s a way of guiding people gently, subtly, almost imperceptibly to the place you want them by using cues in three-dimensional space. One of the easiest examples to grasp is the Guggenheim in New York. After an elevator ride to the top of the museum, patrons begin a leisurely, subtle, spiral down through various galleries, ensuring the audience takes in every piece of artwork without needing to retrace steps or even use a map. So how can you take advantage of this concept without hiring architects and contractors for an in-store promotion? Start with a clear goal. Where do you want people and what do you want them to do when they get there? Once that’s decided, get them to move through the desired path:

  • Use signage to frame entry points
  • Use floor decals for gentle nudging
  • Lower the ceiling with hanging graphics to create paths that usher people in
  • Use pop-ups to eliminate possible distractions and inform
  • Use non-tangibles like lighting and audio

Where are people already gathering in-store? At Disney parks they are often waiting in one of the many queues. But Disney takes full advantage, engaging them where they already are. Standing in line for the Haunted Mansion is even part of the ride itself. Interactive games and visual gags keep patrons entertained during long waits. Even the seemingly boring task of standing in line is magical at Disney. In order to create an unforgettable in-store experience, you must consider and improve ALL areas, even if you know guests are going there anyway. For Dave and Buster’s, we fully immersed guests and paid off that D&B is THE Football Headquarters by following the crowd to the midway. We identified a number of popular games that required football-like finesse and created signage outlining an in-store draft day program. Beloved games like Skee-Ball also received a Football HQ makeover by taking advantage of the playing field. Even the bathrooms proved to be fertile ground for getting the message out there. All of these pieces helped create organic sharable moments, generate awareness for the promotion, and improve the overall store experience by staying true to the brand’s core pillar, play

Dave and Buster’s Football HQ 2015. Sharable in-store photo opps, promotional SkeeBall decal, urinal games.

Get out of the way

Whether you’re leading your customers or following them, it’s important not to interrupt the user flow. Your customers came with an experience in mind. Let them get what they came for, and then deliver the extras along the way. Any marketing efforts interrupting this flow put you at risk of annoying, and possibly losing potential customers. Think of this like the physical manifestation of an online pop-up banner that frustrates users. A happy customer is much more likely to linger and further engage with your brand.

Reward your customers, get rewarded

How will you reward your customers for paying attention and following directions? At the Guggenheim, guests are rewarded with a self-guided tour of every piece of art on display. At the Haunted Mansion, there are storylines to discover and inside jokes to uncover. At Dave and Buster’s, you’ll find fun and games in even the least suspecting places. If you focus on creating an in-store experience worth sharing and reward your customers for doing what you want, they’ll reward you, too – by becoming loyal customers for life.