interior of an upscale car dealership with digital sign stands

Brick-and-mortar businesses have the opportunity to engage with customers directly, unlike their online competitors. But this direct customer interaction also means that their potential for costly mistakes is that much greater. Here are nine of the most common brick-and-mortar marketing mistakes—and how to fix them.

1. Not making a strong first impression

Everything from your window displays to your interior design and employees’ uniforms influences the snap judgment that visitors make when they come to your business. If you’re uncertain whether your business is making the right impression, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do customers seem to react favorably when they walk through your doors?
  2. Are your employees consistently friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable?
  3. Do you know what your competitive differentiators are?

If you can’t answer “yes” to any one of these questions, you’re probably not making the solid first impression you need to make.

Fix it: Try to see your venue through your customer’s eyes—from their first encounter with your venue to their experience inside. Ask a friend to visit your venue and take notes on their impressions, or use a mystery shopping firm for better feedback. Does your venue have energy? Is the ambience what you want?

To drive your purpose home to customers, train employees to deliver on your messaging. They are the ones who embody your brand, from the way they greet your customers to the way they resolve a problem. So have a playbook for employees that stress your core values and goals, and let each policy reflect those.

El Hefe Customer Experience Restaurant Bar

2. Long customer wait times

It’s good to draw a crowd, but long wait times can cost you customers if you don’t have a system in place for managing them. According to Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy, “the most important factor in terms of a shopper’s opinion of service is waiting time — either at checkout or in being acknowledged when they need help.”

75% of retailers say a long wait time is the number one reason they lose customers, and both retailers and customers agree that wait times should be no longer than 5-10 minutes.

Fix it: If you can’t eliminate waits during peak times, consider investing more in the customer’s experience while waiting.

Keep people happy by managing expectations with dynamic signage. Designate a space for overflow traffic to engage customers with digital menus, photos, and business information displayed on your screens.

Brick-and-Mortar Marketing Mistakes

3. Customers don’t know where to go or what to do first

If you constantly have to explain to customers the “right” way to place an order or where they should be standing, you’re not making it easy enough for them. Don’t cause unnecessary frustration for yourself or your customers.

Fix it: Your problem might be easily solved with a friendly greeting from staff each time a customer walks in the door. If that’s not possible every time, use digital signage to literally point the way or display an explainer video or graphic. If customers are overwhelmed when they walk in, take a critical look at what can be removed from your space to simplify the experience.

Brick-and-Mortar Marketing Mistakes

4. Not delivering a memorable customer experience

Customers can be fickle. They have a lot of options to choose from and a short attention span. You might have the best product, services, or offerings around, but if you’re not wedged in your customers’ minds, they might go elsewhere for their needs.

If you aren’t delivering a standout customer experience, you’re not alone. In one survey, 60% of retail executives say their biggest shortcoming is not having a personalized customer experience – the most common shortcoming by far.

Fix it: It’s well worth investing in your customer experience. A Forrester study concluded that companies that deliver the best customer experience grow 15% faster than those with a subpar experience.

Nordstrom’s Jamie Nordstrom described the link between customer experience and revenue: “To keep customers coming, retailers need to do a better job of creating experiences that customers value, evolving with the customer, so that those experiences always match — and exceed — expectations. Customers will buy more when they’re happy.”

Brick-and-Mortar Marketing Mistakes

5. Not asking for online reviews

Word-of-mouth marketing is the cheapest method out there to promote your business, but if you don’t already have a loyal customer base, you can’t count on it to just happen organically. For some businesses, no reviews can be just as bad as mediocre reviews.

Fix it: This one is simple—ask and ye shall receive. If you provide the experience and the service, you can confidently ask your customers for a review knowing you’ll get a glowing testimonial. People love to share their expertise (and they love to be among the first to have “discovered” you). Plus, you can display your customer reviews on digital signage in your store, which will perpetuate the cycle. When people see the reviews, they’ll be encouraged to patronize your business—and leave a good review of their own.

6. Promotions or sales are a big flop

You’ve got this great idea for a promotion, so you put together your offering, promote it on your Facebook page and—crickets. What happened? You might need to take an honest look at what you’re offering and see if it’s of real, clear value to your customers. If that’s not the issue, a lack of buzz surrounding your sale is.

Fix it: Go all out or don’t bother when you’re advertising a promotion you know your customers will love and you’ll profit nicely from. Ideally, your customers should know about your sale before they even walk in the door. Hit ‘em again once they’re inside. Use creative displays, signage, and print marketing to promote the event. Instill a sense of urgency by making it a short-lived and uncommon offering. Customers won’t be able to pass up the opportunity.

Brick-and-Mortar Marketing Mistakes

7. Customers don’t grasp the benefits of product features

You could have the most wonderful product with lots of great features, but if people don’t see the immediate benefit of those features, they’re not buying. (Your desperate attempts to show them how great your product is will put them off even further.) Features are great, but it’s how they make your life better or easier that makes people jump to buy.

Fix it: Video has the power to tell a story about your product that people are willing to pay attention to. Similarly, testimonials can be pretty convincing in a way a sales pitch won’t be. If you notice a pattern of hesitant customers, use video to highlight the lifestyle that comes with using your product, and incorporate real testimonials to get customers off the fence.

8. Businesses don’t have a social media presence

Incredibly, there are still businesses who don’t make social media part of their marketing plan. Posting sporadically or shouting into the void don’t cut it, either. Online, selling your product or service is not your number one priority. Social media marketing is about engaging your customers and potential customers first. You have to get them in the store first before you can sell them on anything.

Fix it: Keep up a regular presence online, and make it a conversation. Share information, news, and resources your customers are interested in. You can get more mileage out of your social media marketing if you display your live social media stream on your TV screens and encourage people to follow you.

Brick-and-Mortar Marketing Mistakes

9. Not keeping the relationship going after customers have left the store

How will you continue to make an impression and keep customers coming back after they’ve left your store? 

Fix it: If customers never hear from you again, how can you expect them to return? Reach out to customers who have given you their contact information, and give them an incentive to come back. Make them feel appreciated, like they’re getting a deal they can’t pass up.

Incentive programs and member rewards are a great way to establish loyalty. (Make sure you’re promoting these programs on your digital signage and at the checkout line!) Right up there with good value in terms of establishing a loyal customer base is incredible customer service. Be the friendly neighborhood expert—that’s how you get referrals and keep people coming back.

Conclusion: Avoiding brick-and-mortar marketing mistakes

Combined, the above solutions like incentive programs, attentive customer service, and maintaining an online presence can add up to a big impact. So go all in. Get customers on your email list so you can stay in touch, and give them plenty of opportunities to provide feedback and share their stories. Treat your customers like valued partners, not just leads, and they’ll remember you for years to come.

Looking for inspiration for your digital display? Check out 10 of the best digital signage content examples for any business.