Stand out in the crowd

The last thing you want is your showroom to become a cookie cutter replica of another showroom.

Currently, there is a commercial running for a particular automotive manufacturer that speaks to the evil of the cookie cutter. In the commercial, narrated by Christopher Walken, the cookie cutter is referred to as a “devious little device.” It goes on to say how it shows blatant disregard for individuality and promotes the herd mentality.

The commercial really got me thinking. Yes sure, first about cookies. I mean who does not like a warm cookie? I prefer chocolate chip fresh out of the oven with a glass of ice-cold milk.

But I digress. The last thing you want is your showroom to become a cookie cutter replica of another showroom.

Certain manufacturers had the idea that a showroom displaying their brands in Los Angeles, should have the same look as another displaying their brands in Chicago or Fayetteville, S.C. This idea isn’t new in other industries and has been done similarly with major retail brands city to city. The idea may be a great idea for the manufacturer’s brand, but it could prove detrimental for your showroom’s brand.

Don’t get me wrong; I fully understand why a manufacturer would desire to have a consistent look for patrons of its brand. This came about primarily due to the manufacturer’s need for its brand to have a consistent representation of products for consumers. Many showrooms were not giving their displays the attention they deserve. These same showrooms often neglected adding any of the new product introductions from their key manufacturers.

Sadly, I have been in showrooms where there are holes is displays, handles missing from faucets and wallpaper in vignettes that was older then I am. Sometime the products displayed were so outdated, I think they were almost on the verge of coming back in style.
Having all the showrooms have the same uniform look for their displays is great for controlling the look of the manufacturer’s brand and product. It solves a problem for customers who are design-challenged in presenting products in their own showrooms. It also adds the advantage of streamlining the introduction of new products into a showroom’s displays. Manufacturers developed required updates to the merchandise, thus, ensuring the promotion of the newest products.

The problem

The problem with adding cookie cutter displays is your showroom loses its own identity. It also does not always encourage the creation of a really unique display. There are many of you out there who are extremely talented at what you do. Your showrooms create an experience for your customers and they truly stand out.

The problem with a cookie cutter display is it does not take into account that each region, state, city and town is different in its own way. That each of the areas has its own regional and local style, color or, for lack of a better word, flavor. What is really big on the West Coast might not be as big in the Midwest. What is selling down south may not sell up north.  

Every market has distinctive characteristics and its own peculiarities that make it uniquely enduring. You need to play up these local characteristics and promote them. You need to stand out from everyone else and be unique. 

I am not saying to never use a manufacturer’s merchandising, because as I have said before they have really been doing an amazing job with it in recent years. Most manufacturers spend a small or even large fortune on developing their branded merchandising, so take advantage of it.

What I am saying, however, is to be selective of the product when possible and make sure it works not only for your market, but more importantly for your showroom. Over time some manufacturers learned from experience that not every market is the same, nor should it be. They have taken what they learned and have done a better job tailoring their displays to the showrooms particular market.

Standing out from the competition may not require shifting your entire marketing strategy. Often, it’s the little things that count. Here are a few tips to help your showroom stand out:

  • When using a manufacturer’s display, add your own personal touches. A photo of your pet or a loved one. Use it as a conversation piece. (You might be surprised how much people love talking about their pets.)
  • Study your market. Know what sells and what doesn’t. 
  • Study style and trends forecasting.
  • Use crazy, creative window displays to attract attention so that everyone is eager to see what that month’s display will be.
  • Set up a children’s area in your store with toys and games to keep kids occupied while parents shop.
  • Keep up on color trends and incorporate them into displays.
  • Provide cushy seating for bored spouses. Maybe a sofa made out of a cast iron or acrylic tub.
  • Put art from local artists in the display. You can even sell the art and take a commission from  the artists.
  • Add fresh flowers, possibly teaming with a local florist.
  • Offer a sweet treat you bake yourself or source from a local bakery.
  • Team with local designers to create a signature display promoting the designer.
  • Try something different. Meaning if all your competition is focused on traditional design, maybe be the one to offer modern design.  

The list goes on and on with what you can do. The thing to remember is no one truly has all the answers, including me. I don’t know your market the way you do. So what works where I am, may not work where you are.

You may try something and find it does not work and that will happen. Just remember: Don’t just give up because something did not work. Keep trying new, fun and creative things. By doing so, I promise you will find the way to stand out in the crowd by being unique. As for me, well, I am going to bake some cookies, as all this cookie talk has me jonesing for a Toll House. 

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