Putting the ‘P’ into POS

Hennessy Fathers Day PosterBy Karrie Lee, creative, Mercury Mambo

If you work in this industry, you are likely to know the term “POS.” If not, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Not another potty humor joke!”

If you’re in the second group, rest easy. I’m talking about the Point of Sale, otherwise known as POS, and this refers literally to the place in which a brand moves off the shelves.

As such, POS materials – posters, for example – can be key to pushing customers over the line from wanting your product or wondering about it to actually picking it up and buying it.

What shouldn’t they do? Even a POS newbie knows this: They shouldn’t talk your customer out of buying them. Bad POS marketing is even worse than no POS marketing at all.

So here are a couple of steps to take when developing and navigating the messy world and a wide variety of POS materials – everything from digital signage to a promotional shelf-talker to a window cling.

1. Prepare

Start with writing the brief. Build from your selling goals and identify your target market. Get in their heads and examine why, if you were in their shoes, this product, service, offer might be appealing. What are the target’s key drives and how do they prefer to be addressed, in tone or in language? What is your strategy and some points of differentiation unique to your product, how will it stand out among competitors? Really understand your target.

For example, since you’re reading Cup O’ Mambo, then your target is likely Hispanic. You know that generalizing this demographic will do you no good – the Hispanic market has a wide variety of players in it, culturally, linguistically and otherwise. Dig deeper and always work with a team that really understands the preferred customer.

You or your designer should conduct a competitive review – see what the competition is doing at the POS. Even go to the store, or one similar, and try to figure out the best and worst-case scenarios for where might be the best location for your POS materials. Share your findings with your team. Make sure all questions get clear answers to avoid confusion. Concepts are always stronger when they align with a well thought-out brief crafted by all shareholders. Being prepared is vital.


2. Prioritize

Your message is the most essential part of what the viewer sees when glancing at your work, and it should reflect that. The message draws them in and asks them to make a judgment call. The imagery and supporting elements should elevate the messaging and make it stronger. At the point of sale, you want the customer or client to react to the message and be motivated by it – whether it be a call to action or an offer.

Different cultures – specific age groups, genders, hometowns – like to be spoken to in different manners and tones. Always go back to the brief – the document that tells you who your audience is – for a gut check. The concept needs to resonate with your target. It goes without saying that superior creativity and innovation will help your brand outlast short-term memory amongst competing brands. The message helps to ensure that the target walks away with a positive view of the brand, purchases the product, and then does the same thing more often because they had a great experience – reinforcement that your message made a promise and delivered. The POS campaign can cement that relationship between the customer and the product or brand. Make the message count.

For a recent client’s POS, we understood that culture and music play at lot into the target markets’ lifestyle and choices. Through messaging and key visuals, the brand has aligned themselves with this demographic and even has been viewed as a key influencer for their Hispanic target market.

3. Pursue

Yes, you may be an authority on the particular demographic you’re targeting – but even brilliant YOU can’t know everything they’re thinking and feeling. So, learn it.

Go outside your comfort zone and seek out feedback. I have usually worked with someone that is my target, ask him or her what he or she think and ask for constructive criticism. What they understand, whether they find it appealing, how are they interpreting it. It’s always a good idea, as well, to put the work in front of as many eyes as possible for grammar, typos, reaction – it eliminates a large margin of error.

Plus, your team is there to help you – you should rely on the others members to support you. They have as much, if not more, invested in the success of the materials at hand. Conduct an internal review and take notes. When doing so, always consult the brief, make it a part of your routine. Is your concept on par with the strategy, or better? Is it the right tone for the specified audience you are seeking out? Would the target be comfortable with the style, or even a certain color? Is that the most legible copy from two, ten, even twenty feet away?

Also reach out to the rep printing the piece, ask for suggestions of material(s) used and inquire about distribution, time lines and packaging. Vendors can be your best friends in times of need and also a great resource for evaluating your POS strategy.

4. Poll

Research how the materials are doing in the store. Get feedback from the store manager, and always ask if you can take pictures before you do so. Observe a couple customers, their pathways, sight-lines. See if you can read it from the entrance, then next to the product. Did the material hold up in distribution, and – most importantly – is it doing its job?

If not, change it, adjust it, learn from it and have suggestions to avoid future pitfalls. Maybe it could even need some outside support strategy to drive traffic or a little more integration from within the store, like a billboard or even a Tweet.

In the store, your POS is fighting for viability. Give it the best chances to survive by crafting a wonderful brief that leads to great creative that engages the consumer and pleases the client – and ultimately the store owner. POS is a key component of watching your brands fly off the shelves and into the waiting arms of your target customers.