It’s no secret that businesses spend a huge amount of money on marketing. The average marketing firm or department is expected to allocate 41% of their marketing budget to online marketing throughout 2018, with this figure expected to grow to 45% by 2020.
As more money is being allocated to paid digital marketing, brands shouldn’t forget about another of the most important ways to drum up business: free marketing, through word of mouth. In the digital era, social media is one of the best ways to do that.
With billions more social media users on the internet, it’s important to take advantage of these free platforms. To do this, you need to make sure that your brand is actually shareable. For many retailers, this all comes down to visual merchandising — the design of your store and layout of your wares.
Ensure the brand personality and culture is visible
Your brand style and personality should be present both online and in store, and the two should be consistent with each other. By having an aesthetically pleasing store, customers can be encouraged to snap pics and share them online, which increases your visibility online with zero marketing cost to you.
Design agency FormRoom, for example, work with clients to establish their brand style and culture and ensure this is included in the finished design as a standout piece or feature wall, encouraging shoppers to take photos to share online. When designing Ted Baker’s Amsterdam store, FormRoom created three feature walls, taking inspiration from Dutch artists, art movements, Dutch landscapes, and even the region’s famous cycling culture. The store managed to celebrate the area, welcome shoppers, and encourage online sharing of photos with the decorations and neon lights.
Create shareable experiences to naturally encourage posting
Having a standout feature or experience in your store can work to encourage customers to share the moment on social media, without needing to be reminded by staff. Magnum ice cream, for example, opened their own “design your own” Pleasure Stores in London, to celebrate their double dipped Magnums. The stores gave customers the chance to customise their own ice creams with added toppings and sauce. Customers went through a production line, telling staff exactly how they wanted their ice creams customised, and were able to witness them being made in front of their eyes. This naturally encourages filming and online sharing, as well as photos of the finished customised ice cream.
It’s not just retail stores that can take advantage of this shareable experience. Hair salon Not Another Salon are specialists in this, and pamper customers with drinks and biscuits, as well as playdough and bubbles to keep them entertained. The Brick Lane-based salon also has a dedicated selfie wall, with a ring-light setup, in order to get the ideal lighting for the perfect social media post. This encourages clients to take an ideal selfie with the right lighting to show off their new hairstyle, which they’ll inevitably want to share online.
Encourage customers to ‘check in’
Regardless of the social media channel, users have the chance to ‘check in’ and share their location. Whether this is on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or even Twitter, customers can easily and quickly announce their location to all their followers. By giving yourself a presence online, ensuring that your store can be easily found through this ‘check in’ service gives your customers the chance to quickly and easily promote your business. A massive 85% of consumers admitted to trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and having customers confident enough to check themselves into your business acts as a positive online review.
You can even consider investing in a business filter on Snapchat, to show up whenever a customer snapchats from your store. Filters on Snapchat can be turned on based on location, and the price depends on how large your store is, and how long you want the filter to be available for. In this case, you may decide to have a filter for certain in-store events, such as a launch party.
If the location of your store is public on Facebook, customers will also be able to add the location to their Instagram posts, whether this is on Instagram stories or in the newsfeed. This location tagging works in tandem with the visual setup of your store, as customers will be able to check themselves in to your store while uploading photos, further promoting your business without relying on customers to remember to mention your business in any captions.
Visual merchandising for your store is a crucial part of marketing. Ensuring that your store is aesthetically appealing to customers encourages them to shop with your business, and to share the experience on social media. By investing in your visual merchandising, you can reap the rewards of the free marketing that comes with your customers promoting your brand on their own social media channels.