Last Updated on 30 July 2013

POINT: John Moore

Wow! That’s a meaty question. Let’s simplify this and focus on the importance of communicating to two audiences to make a retail marketing promotion successful.

One of the biggest lessons I learned from my retail marketing days at Starbucks is that marketing has two audiences: Customers AND Employees.

Most retail marketers focus solely on the customer experience in designing and delivering effective in-store retail campaigns. My Starbucks tribal knowledge tells me otherwise.

The most effective in-store campaigns also think of the front-line employee as a customer to be marketed to.

Do you think all the posters, banners, brochures, and other marketing signage you see in Starbucks are meant solely for customers? Think again as marketing at Starbucks impacts more than just customers—it also impacts employees.

Starbuck understands marketing signage can be used to inform and inspire employees, which can better influence purchase decisions by customers.

Sure, Starbucks uses its in-store signage to promote seasonal beverages, whole bean coffees, and pastries with hopes of triggering impulse purchases from customers. However, customer focus groups have told Starbucks they do not necessarily rely upon the marketing signage to influence their purchase decisions.

Instead, customers rely upon the opinions of baristas behind the counter to influence which beverages, beans, and pastries they buy.

With that understanding, Starbucks uses its in-store signage to influence the opinions of Starbucks baristas.

For example, the many brochures Starbucks displays at the condiment bar are noticed more by employees than by customers. Customers rarely read these brochures, which range from descriptions of whole bean coffees to marketing promotions to Starbucks environmental efforts. But all employees at some point read these brochures—whether out of company adoration or break-time boredom.

Even the banner sign, which is strategically positioned in the pathway of customers walking to the counter, has a greater impact on employees than customers. Starbucks employees see that banner sign every day of every week they work and automatically know the product focus of the current marketing campaign.

In-store marketing programs can be used to inform and inspire employees, which can better influence purchase decisions by customers. And when customer decisions are positively influenced, the more effective an in-store retail campaign will be.


More important than what they look like… How do effective in-store campaigns feel?

Here are a few ways we think about promotions…

The best in-store campaigns feel simple and convenient. While there may the workings of miracles at HQ to get the promotion to work properly, to the customer and the front-line sales person… it should feel super simple and not require jumping through hoops.

Engaging & Memorable
Why should I get excited that you’re going to offer me a third box of your product when I buy two? I only want one.

It does take more work to create a campaign that does something new and clever. But, the results are that you engage more customers. You may create something memorable that they tell their friends about.

If you don’t care enough to put in some effort and spice up your campaigns, why would you think your customers would care and put in their effort?

The Right Duration
Sometimes an in-store promotion can seem like it is lasting forever. Day after day we see the same signs, suggest the same offering. Sometimes they can seem boring.

But, we have to remember, we are not the target audience. Your customer isn’t spending 40-hours a week looking at that sign. They are there for 10 minutes or an hour. Additionally, they visit you once a month? Once or twice a week?

We do ourselves a disservice when we don’t consider that a promotion lasting 5 weeks at a location where customers visit once a month means your target has only seen the campaign once.

If you’re hoping to encourage a new buying pattern or behavior one exposure may not be enough. Make your promotions an appropriate time for your customers.

Measurable & Measured
If you haven’t figured out a way to measure the results of your program, why bother? Or, if your program is easy to track, you don’t bother doing so… Either way, if you’re not going to measure the before and after to gauge effectiveness, why bother at all?

Crackerjack Marketer