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Love at First Sight

Use window displays to draw customers in
 
If you want to capitalize on one of the biggest gift-giving holidays of the year, then don’t forget one critical part of your marketing plan — your window display! As a retailer, this is how you make your initial impression. It may sound like a lot of pressure, but with some advance planning and attention to detail, you can use your display as an opportunity to make a first impression that lasts.
 
Evaluate Your Objectives
The whole purpose of having a window display — or any in-store display —revolves around the simple fact that you’ll sell what you show. That’s why it’s so important to show inflated balloons and balloon designs at a variety of price points.
 
Before you begin creating your display, it might be helpful to take past experiences into consideration. Julie Jones, CBA, of Balloon Squad in Sioux Falls, S.D., asks herself these questions about previous successful displays:
 

 How many more walk-in customers came into my store?

What comments or remarks did I receive from customers?

How many balloons or items did I sell in my window display?

What could I do differently to make my next window display more impactful?

 
Using these questions, make sure you document your window displays throughout the year — not just Valentine’s Day. Take photos and make notes so you can remember what worked (and what didn’t) for next time.
 
Another question Jones asks is, “What kind of customer do I want to shop in my store?” While single inflated balloons and bouquets are sure to appeal to people searching for quick Valentine’s gifts, don’t limit yourself just to those customers. You should aim to attract a wide range of customers because their disposable budgets will vary depending on the occasion and recipient. Remember, you can always sell down, but it’s harder to sell up.
 
For this reason, Jones recommends placing balloon décor or simple twisted pieces in your window. “You’ll find customers coming in to inquire about the décor for any event, because they can see your ability to create amazing decor or twisted art,” Jones said. “That customer wants to make their event totally unforgettable for their guests, and that is my preferred customer.”
 
Design for Your Bottom Line
In the beginning of January, start by displaying an inflated bouquet or other balloon arrangement along with signage to promote your delivery services. You can even consider offering a small discount to encourage early orders.
 
When you’re ready to set up your display, there are several time-saving and money-saving tips to keep in mind. Air-filled balloons — especially Microfoils and Bubble Balloons — are ideal for window displays because they’re long-lasting. For display purposes, you can still give the impression of floating balloons by suspending air-filled balloons from the ceiling with monofilament (fishing) line. If you use any helium-filled latex balloons, treat them with Ultra HI-FLOAT to increase their float time and reduce the time you’ll spend replacing them.
 
Keeping windows clean and well-lit is important, said Jacob Cowger of Balloons Etc. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and added that “You also want to change out displays weekly, because there will always be people that go by on a daily basis on their way to work.” In between new displays, he recommends using Balloon Shine to keep balloons looking shiny and fresh.
 
At any point in the process, it’s also a good idea to step into your customers’ shoes and walk outside your store. This helps you to see what they will see and determine the most effective, attention-grabbing layout.
 
Window displays have multiple purposes: capturing attention, bringing customers through your door and encouraging impulse sales. Ultimately, a successful window will help you increase profits — and that’s an idea we can all fall in love with!
 
Amanda Dolechek, Certified Balloon Artist (CBA), works for Pioneer Balloon Company and writes for a variety of balloon industry websites and Qualatex publications, including Balloon Images and Balloon Magic–The Magazine.

 

Originally posted Monday, Aug. 20, 2012