Point of Purchase Materials: Part 1

We have already determined that we want to get people’s attention as they walk around the aisles of the stores. We want to send them a signal that says, “we’re here, take me home.” After all, point of purchase materials are used to influence a person’s decision right at the place and moment they have to select which product to take home. In order to do that, and considering the huge amount of products at supermarkets and discount stores, we need to establish unique ways in which we can talk to customers. How can we cut through the clutter and make a difference?

The first thing that comes though my mind is by selecting the right point of purchase materials, according to your budget, strategy and communications objective. Remember these pieces are great for generating brand awareness. There are many types of materials that can be used at the shelf area, including the following:

  • Wobblers: These are the pieces that hang from the shelf, facing front, thus creating a sensation of motion. They can be made any size, with die-cut, and printed four color process. They are usually made in card stock material. The holding piece I recommend is the one made of PVC clear, 10 mil. Option #1: Consider also using leaving a blank space to put the price of the product if it’s on special. Option #2: Use UV coating to enhance the piece and make the colors stand out. UV coating also protects these materials.

    Wobblers are ideal if the visual part is important, meaning there is a small amount of text because they are usually small (5″ x 5″). Remember we want our customers (or prospective customers) to read our message, not run away because it’s too long!

  • Shelf-Talkers: This type of promotional material is usually attached to the shelf with double sided tape. The tape acts as additional support because the products on the shelf also hold the upper flap of the piece, which is not printed. It’s normally in the shape of a rectangle and can also be printed four-color process. The additional options include die-cut and UV coating, but keep in mind that quantity and budget are important when considering if you want to add these features. Option 3: These pieces are usually also printed on cardboard stock. There is also the option to print on metallized paper, any color.

    One other cost associated with POP materials is the graphic design. We offer that service at no cost, as long as we print the materials. We are also introducing H-UV printing, which makes it possible for us to print on synthetic materials, such as PVC and Yupo. There are many other materials that your brand can use, which we will discuss in the next posts. Have you used wobblers and shelf talkers before?

    Many people ask me how long do these materials last. I wouldn’t say there is an exact number of days of months because it all depends on the negotiation with the retail chain, the place where the materials are placed, and how people handle the materials. The important thing is to print them in a material that’s not too thin, like cardboard .14 and to give enough materials to merchandisers to change, if necessary.

How to Stand Out from the Crowd with POP Marketing



A lot of people ask me what is exactly point of purchase marketing. Chron defines it as follows: “Point-of-purchase marketing, also known as POP marketing or marketing at retail, uses in-store displays and other last minute marketing ploys to influence the customer to choose a specific brand or to make an impulse buy.” I compare it to search engine optimization (SEO), where it’s important for companies, products, and services to use the right keywords in order to be found among a sea of options.

People visit a search engine site to look for something. Most of the time they know what they are looking for. Even though they might not be ready to purchase, any effort from a particular brand will help put that product in front of the consumer. This is why using the right keywords will get companies closer to their actual and prospective clients. Having a website optimized effectively is the difference between appearing on the first page or fourth page of search results.

POP marketing works in a similar way. People visit a store to purchase a product and they are exposed to many choices, just like when they search on the Internet. Brands should put some effort to draw attention, so that when people face so many choices, the process it’s easier and the end result is a win-win situation. For example, a customer goes to the baby products section at the supermarket. Here is what they see:

point of purchase marketing materials, printing, promotional printing

There’s baby powder, baby lotion, baby oil, cologne, and baby shampoo. In the photo above, there are products from at least 4 different companies. It’s obvious that there is a category leader, but still the consumer has many choices to consider during the purchasing process. POP marketing comes into play here because these companies have the option to communicate product benefits using different cost effective materials, like wobblers, shelftalkers, and stoppers. They may use POP materials to create product awareness or as part of a product promotion. In this example, Johnson’s used stoppers, which can be seen from both sides when people walk through the aisle, with call-to-action messages regarding different product uses. They used 3 different messages:

  • Change diapers using Desitin
  • Bathe with Johnson’s Baby
  • Moisturize with Johnson’s Baby

Because they are category leaders, the sign above, called a header says “Everything Essential to your Baby,” which includes product logos. This piece is mounted in a fixture that makes it possible to attach it to the main display. In addition to the fact that they are leaders, they reinforce the message at the point of purchase to draw even more attention. This is the way to stand out from the rest. In the next posts, I will further explain the types and uses of POP materials, which also include product displays and location-based marketing.

Do Social Media Erase Memories?

buzzworthy creations, social media

If there is something very evident regarding social media is how much power they have given people to spread messages, which may end up having both positive and negative consequences. We are no longer passive members of an audience receiving and processing information. We have the power to create, distribute, and control messages; we have the ability to make our voice so strong that in a matter of hours, on one side we have one business forced to close and on the other we have a funding campaign to make up for the financial loss, as a result of closing the business. This is the case of Memories Pizza, an Indiana- based restaurant who reportedly was the first to say it would refuse to cater a gay wedding, protected by Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). I live in Puerto Rico and if it weren’t for social media, I would have never learn about the existence of Memories Pizza.

In a matter of minutes, people headed to review websites like Yelp! and social networks like Twitter to express their opinion for and against the restaurant’s position. There are 194 reviews on Yelp! written in two days; there are 1,046 reviews on the “not recommended” section of Yelp!, meaning these ratings were not factored in the overall star rating, based on reliability and quality, among other factors. The content of these comments ranges from supportive messages like “I support Memories Pizza” to others questioning their position and talking about how horrible its pizza is in a effort to undermine its reputation. The results of these comments, and many others on social networks like Twitter, combined with offline threats, forced the owners to close the restaurant. This is how its Yelp! page looks today:

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On Twitter,#MemoriesPizza appeared in Twitter’s top ten most popular terms, with tweets both supporting and condemning the business for their public stance.
This is one of the tweets from an assistant softball coach, who was later suspended from her position:


The message constitutes a threat, meaning that there were repercussions and local authorities are investigating this matter. This is another example of how people have a voice on social media, as a result of the limitless space there is and the absence of editing. Each person is on his or her own and may choose to post the content they deem appropriate.

The restaurant’s website was also hacked and someone changed the background of the homepage to rainbow-colored and the message, “call us to cater your gay wedding!” This is more support to the idea of how much control people have on the Internet. This means both control to hack into these websites, as well as control of the message itself.

Yet, not everything is negative for Memories Pizza. On the other side, there’s an army of people who are concerned about the economic implications of having to close the business and are encouraging others to donate money through a crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe. This platform allows people to raise money for events and other causes. As of right now, in just two days, the Support Memories Pizza account has raised $538.599. This is an example of how to use social media to put your cause in front of an audience, expecting people will be moved to take action. Social media have the power to move a lot of people in record time, in this case, 18,333 in two days. While the increasing amount of threats to this family moved them to close the business, this side of of social media must not be forgotten: huge masses of people join together to show support, it doesn’t matter which side you’re in.

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While the future of Memories Pizza is uncertain, we must take a look at these reactions as a way to show, not only how fast people can react and create movements on social media, but also how they have brought forward the potential to make a difference. For good or for bad, it seems like these memories created by the thousands of people who had something to say about Memories Pizza, will not be erased. Something happens=people react and, with social media, it’s permanent.

Ethical Implications of Disaster Porn


“I never look at it. I can’t. I Googled myself once, and I looked at it and I was like, I can’t look at that. That just brings me right back to me laying on the ground.”

These are the expressions of Jeff Bauman, a Boston Bombings survivor who we remember from this graphic photo of him published on social media right after the catastrophic event. He is also referenced to as a hero, since he helped the FBI identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The picture is graphic in many ways, particularly as it shows he lost both limbs. There are many ethical implications and issues that can be explored regarding publishing this photo. Journalists, photojournalists, and others working on news organizations have the responsibility to confront us with the truth, not hide it from us. They do so by narrating stories. These stories help readers understand reality. Even though publishing these photos is disturbing, journalists may feel they need to show the different sides of the story and different perspectives, so that readers get an easier understanding of the big picture. However, there are many ethical considerations regarding whether or not to publish these types of images. I will address some of the most important ones to conclude that there was no reason to publish this photo.

One of the ethical implications is the debate between privacy and public interest. While a man is struggling with shock and pain, why is it necessary to spread such an image as he deals with this devastating situation, in which he probably was not even reasoning what was happening? Is this the only way of telling people the story about the Boston Marathon Bombings? Maybe they could have used his photo without showing the limbs and put something on the text to describe what happened to him. Isn’t the image too graphic or it’s essential to tell this story? According to Bloodshed in the news – dealing with graphic images, “Harrowing photographs do not inevitably lose their power to shock. But they are not much help if the task is to understand. Narratives can make us understand. Photographs do something else: they haunt us.” Another question is, do they need to exploit a tragic event to inform the public? Is a man’s right to privacy lost because the incident happened in a public place? How ethical is it to publish this image without his consent? I don’t think so and one reason is that it may be distressing to his family, particularly when they learned about what happened to him through social media.

According to Family Of Jeff Bauman, Double Amputee In Viral Photo, Learned Of Injuries On Facebook, Jeff’s father got a call from his stepdaughter asking him, “if he had seen the picture.” It was at that moment when he turned to Facebook and saw the viral photo. This means the publishing of the photo left no time for the family to be contacted by the authorities. Because of speed and immediacy on social media, they learned about this. Journalists know this about social media. They know news travel faster than with traditional media. However, because they are in a rush to publish the best content, they do not stop for a second to analyze how this can impact a victim’s family. Another thing they don’t analyze is how can the photo impact the victim, considering emotional effects and dignity. I started this post with a quote from the injured person, which clearly portrays how disturbing and traumatic the photo still is and how he can’t even look at it. Photos published on social media are also permanent and victims struggle with post-traumatic stress. Doesn’t anyone stop to think about this for one second? The other distressing part for both the family and the victim is the fact that the photo is way too graphic, explicit, and gruesome. The mental well-being of both should be taken into consideration, as well as the fact that they needed to grieve and let it sink in.

I have a question for journalists and for all of us. Does social media make us more hungry for this type of content? Do these images make us and the victims more or less human? Are we more curious because we have access to more information, which we can access faster? I think these circumstances should be approached with more sensitivity. I think such images are not essential to tell a story, as they are not the only option to use in the narrative. German journalist Simon P. Balzert composed a code of ethics for the use of graphic images. Some of the guidelines include publishing more emotionally appealing and least shocking images and not publishing solely for its shock or entertainment value. On the contrary, it should be published because it’s newsworthy and pertinent.

My Fellow Ello

Ello’s promise is that it will not make money from selling ads or user data. The anti-Facebook social network launched last year with these promises; to make these even tighter, ir converted its legal structure to a Public Benefits Corporation. This means that Ello is a for-profit organization, but an essential part of its philosophy to benefit society. The company sees money and profit as a means to make social impact. Ello wants to provide users the opportunity to connect without other companies seeing them as products that can be bought and sold. According to Ello Doesn’t Have Ads, “Collecting and selling your personal information, reading your posts, and mapping your social connections for profit is unethical. Every new feature on an ad-driven network is either a new way to gather more data about you (which can be sold), or show you more ads (which are auctioned), or both.” Thus, Ello’s motto is to do the right thing by making the product beneficial to users themselves, not to other companies. In this way, we see a company reflecting what care ethics is about.

Without advertising, the company says it will make money out of premium extra features, like profile customization. This model is not new and, in some cases, it has proven to be profitable. As a matter of fact, it’s widely used in the gaming industry, known as the “freemium model,” in which users play for free, but pay for extras. The concept is if you want to get the best rewards or features, you have to pay money; users pay to enhance the experience. Clash of Clans and Game of War: Fire Age made enough money last year to buy Super Bowl ads. Sounds good, right? It’s important to note that only 1.5% of freemium revenue comes from these purchases. Also, this model doesn’t mean that these apps are free from advertising. As a matter of fact, according to a survey by App Annie and IDC on 2013, 50% of app revenue comes from in-app advertising and that percentage is expected to increase in 2017. There are two possible scenarios regarding data mining here:

  • It doesn’t mean that no one is using data; it’s used internally to enhance user experience
  • With the information above, we see the success of the gaming apps does imply using advertising as an important source of revenue, thus user data is sold.

In my opinion, this model might work for gaming, but not for social, especially if the social network offering an ad-free experience has no attractive features and functionalities that may motivate me to try it or even consider leaving Facebook because that one is better. In order for Ello to profit from the extras, it needs to increase its user base. As of October, they had 1 million users, to which they just added 250,000 more. The rollout has been limited because the platform is unfinished and they have decided to add features along the way. They have missed a very important thing, if not the most: the app version. Considering the growth of mobile usage, how come they leave this for 8 months after launching?

Just recently, Ello added the ability to post videos from other sources like YouTube. In Ello Is Becoming a Real Social Network, Even as Tech Media Pronounces It Dead, John Koetsier touches on this point by saying that this new ability to share video does include ads, not from Ello, but from YouTube. I wonder what platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud will be able to do regarding advertising, considering the fact that they will be able to know where traffic comes from. Technically, Ello is not selling information, but it’s providing an open forum for others to take data from there. Ello was able to tackle this with a feature on the settings menu, which you can turn off to avoid embedded media.

I think at this point, this limits the user’s ability to connect organically; to create and celebrate life just like Ello wants. It’s a cool option and it strengthens their position about no ads, but then it’s also a barrier for sharing information. If I’m an artist and want to share my video from YouTube with my friends, then it means not everyone will see them. What will happen when people are able to use hashtags? Doesn’t this give outside sources access to content related to a hashtag? I wonder up to what point can they keep this promise, when content like hashtags are part of a universal database.

I honestly love Ello’s philosophy and I like the intention of creating a company with a sustainable model that wants to do social good by intending to protect people and providing a platform strictly for connecting with other people, not products. The freemium model they expect to use for added features and customization sounds like a great idea, but why will people pay for something that they can have for free in the platform which billions of people use? In order to capitalize on this, they must focus on what’s different and try to make it really different. If there is the equivalent of a newsfeed, what feature does my product have that makes me different? Snapchat and Instagram did this. They both have feeds, but Snapchat decided to erase content and Instagram decided to stick to enhancing the photo sharing process. It’s a matter of differentiation…..and launching the app as soon as possible. As soon as they are able to increase its user base, we will be able to see if these promises also result in a sustainable company.

I think people will react positively, just like me, initially. I loved the idea and the concept, but once I got a chance to play with the platform, I couldn’t find anything interesting or too different, so I never used it. Also, it will take a while to see if there will be consequences for all social media, but I can say it makes me think about Path, another social network which tried to deliver a similar ad-free promise to protect privacy, but with a price people were not willing to pay. I think there is a fine line between protecting and not protecting users on social media. They’re all businesses and they need to make money, sometimes sacrificing what they initially say they will protect.

The Act of Moderating on Social Media

“A single tweet can create a ripple that expands into big waves, whether harmful or helpful.”-Daniel Threfall

In How to Effectively Moderate Social Media, Threfall makes this statement, which helps explain the importance of social media moderation. The purpose of moderation is to lead conversations. On social media, this involves keeping an eye on what people are saying on our social media pages, so that we can keep a safe, peaceful, and collaborative environment, rather than one characterized by offensive, potentially dangerous, and out-of-line comments. The role of the social media moderator is monitor, track, listen, and respond, when necessary and according to a company’s social media policy. In the end, the aim should be to develop and maintain relationships, so the strategy should be to take actions that work in favor of this, rather than against. The social media moderator faces many challenges, depending of the situation. There are also many possible ways to address different comments, as well as unlimited choices, including deciding not to respond, deleting a comment, and responding publicly or privately. There are also many choices regarding what to say and how to say it, in terms of tone and language.

Below please find two hypothetical examples of audience and customer comments and my approach regarding moderating these. My recommendation is to respond to both online, right at the place they customer posted the comment. This, in my opinion, serves to respond to others who might have the same concern. Also, it’s a way for companies to transform a negative situation into a positive one. I think it’s the opportunity for a company to demonstrate how serious it is about its business.

Example #1

Customer comment to a hotel: “I am disgusted about the state of your restaurant on 1467 Justin Kings Way. Empty tables weren’t cleared and full of remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

My response: “Hello (insert customer name). Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We sincerely apologize for this situation at our restaurant during your visit. Cleanliness is one of our of top priorities and I can assure you that steps are being taken with members of our team to address and correct this issue, so that it does not happen again. (Insert customer name), we value you as a customer and would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come back to our restaurant and give us another chance. If you wish to contact me directly, you can call the restaurant (phone number) and ask for Celeste. Have a great day!”

Example #2:

Message to a mainstream news network: “Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.” (Let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides.)

My response: “Hello (customer name). Thank you for taking the time to write us about how you feel regarding our reporting about the Middle East. Our mission is to conduct reporting that is characterized by impartiality, fairness, and justness. We value the members of our audience and would like you to continue tuning in to our station. Please feel feel to contact me directly by email (insert email address) if you would have additional questions or concerns. Thank you and have a great day.”

Both responses are honest, genuine and address the specific areas which are under attack. Also, both mention how the company values those two areas as part each company’s mission and vision. Finally, both responses offer an opportunity to take the conversation outside, if there are other areas that need to be addressed. Since both user comments address sensitive issues like restaurant cleanliness and biased reporting, I think it’s best to address it publicly in general terms and then offline. Address the areas in such a way that people acknowledge someone is listening to them, but never go into too much detail either, because that may irritate the user even more.  Responding in a genuine, sincere, and authentic way yields respect.