Last Updated: November 14, 2020

As recently as a decade ago, most people’s shopping experiences still involved piling in the car and driving to the store or mall. This weekly trip has become mostly a thing of the past for many families, who split their traditional shopping experiences with newer outlets on the Internet.

While some businesses offer both options to consumers, others such as only offer online shopping. Those businesses who primarily operate out of a physical storefront have now become known as “brick-and-mortor,” denoting their lack of online presence.

As the shopping experience continues to move from physical locations to computer monitors, the businesses that maintain storefronts are looking to develop new and creative ways to attract consumers’ attention.

What is Brick-and-Mortar marketing?

There are several approaches a brick-and-mortar business can take to marketing, reflecting the changing face of today’s shopping experience. The first approach involves using more traditional advertising methods, starting with an eye-catching sign on the storefront, and then introducing other forms of physical media: catalogues, magazine advertisements, newspaper clippings, and perhaps even a billboard on the highway (See also Traditional Marketing). On a more grass-roots level, it could also include printing up fliers to pass out, post on bulletin boards, or deliver door-to-door in nearby neighborhoods.

Strategies to get people in your store

  • Host a grand opening
  • Giveaway events, for the first XX customers
  • Celebrity appearance (if possible)
  • In-store-only sales event
  • In-store contests
  • Bring your product or service to a big area event

Another growing approach to brick-and-mortar marketing is known as “bricks-and-clicks.” This occurs when a brick-and-mortar business takes advantage of online media to advertise its brand. It also includes the integration of online-purchasing options, which will vary depending on the product the company sells. For example, Starbucks primarily operates out of physical locations; however, the company also has a burgeoning online presence that allows the consumer the option to shop in the store or from home. Thus, the bricks-and-clicks approach puts a business in the consumer’s path both physically and online—and this increased exposure helps the business at both ends.(See also E-Commerce Marketing)

Whether a business uses the traditional approach or bricks-and-clicks, the goal of the marketing effort is the same: to attract consumers into the store for a more traditional, hands-on shopping experience.

Who employs Brick-and-Mortar marketing?

Certain types of products and services require a customer’s physical presence in the store. Businesses that sell these kinds of products or services want to draw more and more customers to their locations. They want walk-in customers to be able to see and handle their products (See also Field Marketing) Imagine trying to make a purchasing decision on a car from your computer at home. Certainly, many customers research vehicles on the Internet, but eventually they visit the dealership to test drive their chosen cars. In addition, a salesman might provide customers more information than they could have found online.

The in-store experience is also an opportunity to “up-sell” other products. For example, you can’t purchase a haircut online. Since customers need to walk through the doors for that haircut, it’s also provides opportunities to stock the shelves with other hair-care products that customers might want to buy. Out of convenience, a customer might like to purchase the product there rather than at an online store (or another brick-and-mortar store).

How is a Brick-and-Mortar marketing plan developed and employed?

The first priority of any brick-and-mortar business is to attract people to the store. To accomplish this, a store will plan out an effective marketing campaign that begins with two major focuses: understanding the area around the store’s location, and the targeted market.

Typical Brick-and-Mortar Products

  • Groceries
  • Hair care
  • Home improvement
  • Dining
  • Real estate
  • Auto sales

Whether the business is brand-new or has operated out of the storefront for decades, it’s important to understand who the potential customers are. Since markets are in a constant state of flux, a company’s target market will need to be re-evaluated regularly. For the brick-and-mortar company, this requires marketing experts to research the demographics of the area surrounding the store. Marketers must learn how target audience members think and feel, their household incomes, their professions, and their purchasing needs.

Once a marketing team has figured out who they’re selling to, they’ll need to determine the competition in the area and how their company stands apart. What is the company’s unique selling position, and how can they make it “pop”? This is determined through analyzing and interpreting the demographic research of the target audience. There may be other businesses that can meet the target market’s needs, but with the right marketing approach, this company can develop a more concise message that attracts more business.

The next step is to design the message and images that will get the company’s brand in consumers’ minds—and their feet through the door (See also Close-Range Marketing). Will traditional area marketing approaches work, such as creative displays, flyers or mailers? Is it more advantageous to aggressively push the company’s presence at a local area event? Or perhaps placing ads in local publications (i.e., newspaper, magazine, newsletters, etc.) will be most beneficial. Again, knowing the target audience is key.

Once the plan is executed, the marketing team evaluates the effectiveness of the campaign. Did sales increase? Did new customers walk through the door? The marketing team must collect and interpret the answers to these questions to effectively report results back to the company, and to adjust the marketing campaign in the future.

What career titles work with Brick-and-Mortar marketing strategies?

Visual Merchandisers

What do they do?

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Visual Merchandiser
    Median Pay: $43,500
    Top Earners: $76,910
  • Promotion Specialists
    Median Pay: $52,090
    Top Earners: $95,200
  • Market Research Analysts
    Median Pay: $60,570
    Top Earners: $111,440

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the physical sense, these people arrange and organize the shelves of the stores where they market. Of course, this is also an oversimplification; the role also requires deep market awareness, and an understanding of what motivates spending behavior and creativity. The priority for a visual merchandiser is to create an enjoyable, aesthetic experience for a customer that’s also highly interactive.

Visual merchandisers create visually captivating displays that attract customers’ eyes and engage their interests based on analysis of market trends. In the nuts-and-bolts part of the job, these merchandisers arrange products on the shelves—or in “end cap” displays (which utilize the retail space at the end of an aisle)—in such a way that shoppers not only purchase more of what they were looking for, but also purchase previously unsought items that have now grabbed their attention. Therefore, a big part of a visual merchandiser’s role is to predict shoppers’ unplanned purchases before they visit the store.

Education and Skills

Visual merchandisers need a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or visual communication. It’s also helpful to have as broad an understanding of the field as possible; therefore, it would be advantageous to minor in psychology or art (particularly graphic design).

However, entering the job market with a diploma in hand isn’t enough to earn this position. People often break into this field as assistant visual merchandisers, gaining the needed experience to understand the job, and move up from there.

Promotions Specialist

What do they do?

It’s the job of a brick-and-mortar promotions specialist to physically engage with the community surrounding their employer or client. Since every community or region is different, the promotions specialist will need to employ various face-to-face forms of research: surveys, interviews, and perhaps focus groups. Once all the relevant data is collected, specialists may do any or all of the following:

  • combine advertisements with purchasing incentives, such as an insert in a local coupon book
  • develop direct-mail coupons for people who have just moved into the area
  • create advertisements for local media publications that the targeted audience is likely to read
  • develop special store events that will draw customers in, such as partnering with a local nonprofit organization where a portion of sales will support that organization’s efforts

After completing these efforts, specialists then examine the numbers and measure the effectiveness of the promotional strategy, and based on the results create a report for executives and/or business owners.

Education and Skills

The bottom-line requirement to become a promotions specialist is a bachelor’s degree. Sought-after majors can include public relations, marketing, communications, and even journalism. A major in math or statistics is also beneficial.

Most training for this position is handled on the job, either through a formal program or by working closely under more experienced staff members This kind of training can last anywhere from a month to a year.. Entry-level workers’ primary duties include maintaining files and collecting data for promotions campaigns, before moving up to duties that include more responsibility.

Market Research Analyst

What do they do?

A market research analyst in the brick-and-mortar industry monitors and forecasts area marketing and sales trends, based on the consumer behavior of those who live near their company’s or client’s location. Breaking it down further, analysts:

  • research the competition’s prices, sales and marketing methods in an effort to determine the unique selling position of a client or employer
  • measure the effectiveness of their employer’s or client’s marketing efforts, determining the success of current marketing methods and forecasting the potential results of using new methods
  • conduct demographic research of the local area, discovering income and education levels of nearby residents, and use that
  • use research to create a profile of the target market for an employer or client
  • determine specifically where this target audience lives, in preparation for direct mail marketing and placement of banner advertising
  • generate reports on all relevant data before, during and after marketing campaigns; and publish said reports in the employer or client’s desired format
Education and Skills

A prospective market research analyst needs at least a bachelor’s degree in market research or a related field, such as statistics, math, or computer science. Other degrees that can be considered include business administration, behavioral science, or communications. An advanced degree in any of the above areas is often a requirement for management, or for positions that require more specialized research.

Prior experience in business, marketing, or sales is also helpful, as well as any position that requires some level of analysis, report writing, surveying, or data collection. Many businesses, in fact, partner with schools in offering internships that help build these types of skills.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

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Though marketing is an ever-changing field, the world of brick-and-mortar marketing tends to rely on the tried-and-true methods of the industry. Keeping this in mind, many education programs are equipped to give future brick-and-mortar marketers valuable instruction that can be applied toward their careers. Nearly every traditional four-year university, junior college, and even some technical schools, have degrees that are applicable to brick-and-mortar marketing.

By the same token, your marketing classes will better prepare you for all the facets of your job. For example, every marketing major needs excellent communication skills. Classes that develop these skills don’t simply lecture about communication, but give students real-world models and routine practice in engaging these skills. Likewise, all schools with marketing degrees offer courses that survey broad applications of research and analysis, as well as more focused applications for those students interested a career in marketing analytics.

Consumer behavior is another relevant area of study in brick-and-mortar marketing. As a marketing student, it’s vital to be able to understand and predict consumer behavior. Some schools offer this as a major course of study; if not, a student of marketing could also take courses in behavioral science to learn what motivates human behavior.(See also Consumer Insight Manager)

It’s also wise to remember that as social media continues to emerge as a relevant marketing platform, its application to brick-and-mortar business will continue to grow as well. Be on the lookout for courses or educational opportunities that involve the development of social-media marketing as well.