Sign in

Shelf-talkers—The Silent Salespeople

Patti Biro January 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

What if you had an employee who never came in late, got sick or took a day off, and worked tirelessly to promote your business but asked nothing in return? Is this too good to be true? You actually have this employee—it is the shelf-talker. Shelf-talkers are sometimes called the silent salespeople of retail because they work wherever they are assigned to promote your business and boost your retail sales.

Stop for a minute and think about the last time you visited the wine or gourmet cheese section of your favorite grocery store. You probably saw a variety of shelf-talkers on display. Some of them probably drew you in, even if you were not aware of it. What attracted you in the grocery store can be applied to how you create and use shelf-talkers in your skin care facility.

Creating a shelf-talker

Many product lines will provide these as marketing support items; and, with a little creativity, a computer, or perhaps a camera and a digital photo album, you can inexpensively create a team of effective silent salespeople of your own. Use quality paper to print your messages and display them in attractive picture frames. Select frames that fit with your products, color theme or brand. Look for frames in various sizes to use in retail displays at the front desk, in the client bathrooms and in your treatment rooms.

Shelf-talkers have three main job functions: to entice, to inspire and to educate. When creating a shelf-talker, the best way to begin is by identifying its main purpose.

To entice. One job function for the shelf-talker is to entice clients to stop, look at the product and read the message. A key factor leading to a retail sale is the amount of time a client spends looking at or interacting with a product. Shelf-talker messages can be as simple as “Try me!” “New product!” or “New for the season!” Asking a question is an easy way to get attention. One of my favorites is “Hot date tonight?” Think about how effective the “Got milk?” ad campaign has been, and the power of a simple question becomes evident.

To inspire. You probably have a good idea what skin issues are most common with your clientele. Your shelf-talker can help you inspire your clients to purchase products that meet their needs. Is time an issue? Consider using a shelf-talker that states: “In 10 minutes a day, you can begin to erase those dark spots.” The job of the shelf-talker in this instance is to not only attract the attention of the client, but also to address a problem or need, and provide a product-based solution.

To educate. With the wide range of product ingredients, your clients may feel overwhelmed with trying to determine the best ones for their skin. Use your shelf-talkers to highlight a professional product ingredient and share a benefit, the history or uses of that ingredient. You might highlight a specific ingredient, such as green tea. Combine your shelf-talker with a display of the product, some green tea leaves and serve them some green tea in an elegant cup and you are on your way to increasing sales through education.

A dose of humor

Now that you have decided which type of shelf-talker to create for your products, consider adding a dash of humor. Getting a chuckle from your clients will make them remember the product and the message. Do you have a pumpkin enzyme facial? You might use a display of pumpkins, pumpkin pie mix and the message: “Pumpkin—it’s not just for pie anymore.” You might include product samples and a take-home card to remind clients about the benefits of pumpkin.

Also, don’t let your shelf-talkers get stale. Displays and shelf-talkers shsould be changed monthly.

Remember: A shelf-talker can do so much more than just share the price of your retail products.

Patti Biro is the owner and founder of Patti Biro and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in planning and providing innovative continuing education in the spa and wellness industry. She is a frequent presenter on the regional, national and international circuits, and will speak at Face & Body® Midwest 2013. She can be contacted at 760-712-7385 or