With so much on the line, why is most POS work so lazy?

July 10, 2009

By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA 

There’s no more intense drama anywhere than at the point of purchase, including most bowl games and bedrooms. And yet Point Of Sale work too often is a dull, sleepy afterthought.   

Shakespeare’s got the pretty words but when customer meets products meets choice – that is magnificent theatre. When we do POS at NYCA, we like to think of what is at stake. It focuses our work on the specific task at hand: stop and sell. In fact our first piece of work we ever did at the agency for a global client that wanted a TV campaign was a piece of POS. That device made the product the number one seller in the world.  

posLook at the characters: there’s The Customer – searching for something satisfying, not often sure what, even after having searched online, after reading the blogs, listening to her friends, being bombarded with the ads, she still has to see it, smell and touch it for herself. She needs to experience it to believe it.  POS can help answer her innermost questions. “Is it really what I have heard?” she wonders “Is it for me?” Doubt, confusion, hope.  

Now all around The Customer you have The Store just pulsing with the hungry, encroaching competition.  The attractive merchandise surrounding and beckoning the weakening Customer. She came in with one thing kind of in mind but now, hmm this looks good and that seems like it could be nice, too. Ah the heart thumping of opportunity!  

And yet with all this tension, with the entire transaction on the line, we see Point of Sale materials that are flat and boring, worse, acting like they have no role in the outcome.  They are just standing there like limp spectators who have no understanding of the customer in her vulnerable state and seemingly no desire to win her over. And, worse, some that just mumble irrelevant nonsense to themselves when the customer is right before them. 

Too often POS is just a take-down of the brand work that ran in other mediums when the customer was in the gathering state. Good POS knows and talks to the customer in her “buying mindset.” She is in front of you – you are already in the circle of acceptability with others. Now you need to make her your own.  

Bad POS talks to the customer as if she is still at home. It’s just like we speak differently to people who are across the street than we do when they are in arms reach, we need to adjust what we say and how we talk to customers at retail. When we are up close, we’d better recognize her exact needs at that moment or she is gone with the other goods (rising music for emphasis) and we are tragically abandoned. (SFX: lonely wind blows)  

At those moments you need to know your customer well because generalities won’t get it done.  Her “buying mindset” needs rational information over the emotional because POS doesn’t work alone – the item she is considering is the emotional element. You have to double team her. And you better get your part right with the persuasive details, said fast. STOP and SELL. Do the research to understand her ‘buying mindset’ and turn her from a shopper into a cash paying customer. POS stand up for your product and yourself and sell her why you are the best choice. That will get her 40 feet down the aisle to the cash register. That will make the story worthwhile.  

That’s how you should be thinking when creating POS: like everything is on the line.  

And then Ka-ching. The sale is closed. A happy ending. Curtain falls.