Have you ever gone to the store without knowing exactly what you were going to get? Even if you do know, it’s so easy to get swayed as a result of in-house advertising. That’s why whenever I go to the grocery store, I have a rule for myself that I have to eat a full meal at least two hours before I go grocery shopping, or else I’ll buy a ton of stuff I don’t need.

Happens literally all the time. Turns out I’m not alone in that.

90% of shoppers make unplanned purchases.

That’s a lot of people.

Many corporations spend money on drawing in customers, but they might not realize the marketing opportunities they already have: the people already in their stores.

But they’re starting to see the potential. In fact, in store advertising accounts for almost $15 billion in spending.

Here are four of the most popular trends I’ve discovered in in-house marketing.

Trend 1: Digital Signage

One of the most popular ways for a company to advertise their products in their stores is to use the other products for sale.

Like TVs showing deals on other items in the store.

Digital signage uses screens placed around a store to advertise other deals and products. They’re eye-catching and quick. Some even use motion sensors, saving energy by playing advertisements only when people are around.

70% of shoppers decide what to buy while they are in the store. The advertisements around them can influence their choices. The key is placement. Put the screens in high traffic areas, like entrances, or places where people stand around and wait, like check-out lines or pharmacies.

In 2016, the global market for digital signage is expected to reach almost $4.5 billion. Companies are realizing the value of playing advertisements in their stores and are taking advantage of the influence they have on customers.

Trend 2: Social Media

People spend an average of nearly 9 hours on their phones. They aren’t going to put them away while they’re shopping.

The solution?

Use their phones to your advantage.

Many stores use social media sites to offer coupons or exclusive deals. Other use in-store beacons, which send special offers straight to customer’s phones.

Some stores have combined social media with digital signage to stream recent Tweets or posts about their stores or products for customers to see.

Essentially, you want to pull an otherwise isolated person into the experience of your company.

Trend 3: End of Aisle Displays

Another effective advertising strategy is the displays at the end of aisles. While the displays often feature items on sale, the product doesn’t have to have a price cut in order to boost sales.

The displays can be signs advertising specific items or it can be the products themselves placed where they can be taken quickly and conveniently.

Signs on the end of aisles engage up to 70% of customers. Like digital signage, they need to be strategically placed for the best results.

Displays of actual products on the end of aisles makes those items more accessible to shoppers, featuring things that they might not see otherwise.

Trend 4: Samples

Everyone likes free things.

When done correctly, giving out free samples can drastically increase sales. Free samples can help indecisive customers make up their minds or introduce them to new products they might not have considered before.

In some cases, giving out samples has increased sales by 2,000%.

A company that gives out free samples isn’t, like some people may think, losing business or profit. No, a company that lets consumers try products is a company confident in what they are selling.

Samples work to your advantage in many ways. People are likely to buy more of a thing they’re given for free, simply because they know it.

Making the Most

Now that we’ve explored the popular trends of in-house advertising, I want to leave you with 7 tips to make the most of them.

1. Customer Interaction

Despite the increase of online retail, the majority of customers still interact with retail companies primarily by visiting their stores. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore other places where customers have contact with your company.

People are almost as concerned with the experience of shopping as they are with what they buy. They want to feel valued, like they’re a part of the process. When you give them ways to interact with your company, they’ll keep coming back.

2. Sneaky Advertising

Sneaky advertising is my term for those ways you can slip in an ad or feature a deal where people can’t escape it. Some examples would be stickers on the floor of high traffic areas. Or on the dividers used at the checkout lines. Or on shopping carts.

Placing advertisements in obvious, but unobtrusive places can influence consumers, consciously or not, to buy certain items.

3. Design

Like any type of marketing, the design of in-store advertisements is essential. You want your advertisements to catch people’s eyes and to convey information without overwhelming them.

Use bright colors and a large font. Incorporate pictures of the product whenever possible to help consumers know what they’re looking for.

4. Location

Location is pretty closely tied to design. Only instead of the ad itself, you’re considering the whole store. You have to know where to place the ads to get the best response.

For example, you want to put advertisements near the products they’re featuring. That way they’re accessible and don’t require extra effort on the consumer’s part.

5. Layout

Layout is similar to location, but it involves more than just advertising. Layout considers how the store is set up. It wouldn’t make sense to have art supplies next to an aisle of clothing or dairy products. And it would take a lot of walking to get trash cans and trash bags if they’re on opposite ends of the store.

So consider layout carefully when you’re advertising in your store. Try to think what other ideas might be sparked from your advertisements and do your best to make people think of items that are near both the ad and the featured product.

6. Sensory Engagement

When a person’s senses are engaged, a memory is formed. The more senses the person uses, the stronger the memory. And it’s easy for you to provide those opportunities in retail.

Most stores play music over a loudspeaker now. It’s become normal, a way to fill an otherwise awkward silence. And nearly every store allows customers to touch and examine the product they are hoping to buy.

The most important thing about sensory engagement is to be intentional about it. If you aren’t trying to set a certain mood with music or scent, it can go in any number of directions. An employee may pick a radio station they enjoy but others find a little too upbeat.

People interpret their surroundings based on their senses and if you aren’t making an effort to control those interpretations, customers’ experiences might be less than ideal.

7. Themes

Back to school. Valentine’s Day. Christmas.

Themes are a great way to advertise for products. You can link a series of items together that might not be connected under any other circumstances. You can use colors, words, holidays, or other special occasions to market your products.

In-house advertising might be something you’ve never considered before. Or it might be something you’re trying but still figuring out how to best utilize.

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to consider in store advertising as a tool to use to your advantage, not something to run scared from.

It’s not as daunting as it sounds. I promise.

What are some of the most effective ways you’ve seen in-house advertising used?

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