Yesterday afternoon, my best friend dragged me to a Pinkberry in downtown Long Beach. It was my first time there and I was eager to taste what the fuss was about. Something else caught my attention.

As soon as I got to the entrance, I noticed intricate patterns and shapes in lime green on the doors and windows. Inside, I look to the left and see dainty plastic bar stools in bright translucent colors and white tables. To the right, I see clean white shelves and Pinkberry cartons arranged neatly along the wall. The counter, housing different toppings, and the wall behind it which was home to the frozen yogurt machine and the clean designed menu, added to the flair. I fell in love.

The visual merchandising, every aspect of attracting the eye of the customer and helping them make a buying decision, was immaculate. However, more people think they make buying decisions simply on TV advertising, pricing or brand names. It seems no one is taking visual merchandising and point of purchase advertising seriously in discussions on marketing and advertising or at least I’m not hearing much noise about it.

A lot of noise needs to be made about it. Afterall, companies like Old Navy and in this case, Pinkberry have incorporated visual merchandising as part of their overall marketing strategy, tying together online and print efforts with the actual experience in store. The result is having customers so engaged in what they see and feel that they buy because they like everything about the experience.

Have you noticed mannequins looking a little more human or with Macy’s a few years back, more fun and cartoonish (blue hair mannequins with attractive expressions). How about how the clothes grace the mannequins in a lifelike way, bunched up in some places, sleeves rolled up and fitting the way it would on you as opposed to simply hanging all the clothes on a hanger? It’s all a part of engaging your mind by helping you to picture why this purchase needs to happen. There’s very much a science to this.

Everything from how a jewelry store arranges their pieces to the sticker or sign near the cash register telling you about a new service or presenting calls to action is all a part or helping you, the customer to choose, to be informed and ultimately to spend. If that’s the case, why would your business give any less attention to these aspects of your marketing strategy?

Perhaps you don’t have a million dollar budget but you can make your storefront engage buyers in the same way. Have you window clings, or like some people have, a car wrap? What about banners or desktop signs? Is your merchandise neatly arranged by color? Can your store furniture compliment the experience by being comfy, to encourage reading and drinking coffee? Are your bestsellers out front?

There are so many ways to maximize the customer experience and increase sales. Perhaps that’s why Jack In The Box stores have all been redesigned for an upscale feel and Pinkberry makes me feel like I’m in heaven. These things can make all the difference in the world.

Need help to put it all together? Get your marketing, PR and design teams all together. If you want to bring in an expert in visual merchandising, who specializes in a particular area, that would help. Like I mentioned before with Old Navy, make sure all communications and branding concepts are consistent across print, web and in-store. Planning and thorough communication between teams is vital.

At the end of the day, I hated the way Pinkberry tasted. Will I visit again? Of course. The ambience was amazing and surely they have something on their menu that I will like. As they did, influence buying decisions by making visual merchandising a focus in your overall strategy.

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