How to Attract Attention, Get More Customers And Sales

Attract more Customers

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Updated February 1, 2024

When you are trying to attract customers and get more foot traffic, the focus is squarely on your store's appearance. You have to grab passersby's attention so they want to enter.

New customers are the lifeblood of stores. With flagging footfall especially, your displays and merchandising must get them over any hesitation to shop in a brick-and-mortar location. 

Here are 12 ways to attract attention and boost foot traffic to your shop:

1. Create a Memorable Monument Sign for your Business

How to attract retail customers monument sign

Signage for retail stores has to start at the curbside.  Don't do what everyone else does with black block letters on a beige concrete sign.

While many developments have strict monument sign policies, reducing most businesses to a commodity by the road, think Jane's Fun Toys For Girls and Boys reduced to TOYS.

If you present a compelling sign, you can get away with it, as this learning center has done.

Who wouldn't think it would be fun to send their child there? Even better, consider digital signs that can change on a dime. 

2. Make a Great Window Display

If you are in a popular destination with great foot traffic, create a store window that tells one story and tells it well. Your window display must be your invitation to enter.

A well-designed window display encourages impulse sales and piques the curiosity of a potential customer. It might even tug at their heartstrings.

A June display at a jewelry store featured a miniature park scene. Seated on one end of an oak bench a young woman held out her left hand as her fiancé, on bended knee, placed a sparkling platinum diamond ring on her finger. At the other end of the bench, an elderly woman, alone, admired her own wedding band. A simple sign overhead said, “A diamond is forever.”

Check out these pictures of a toy retailer with incredible visual merchandising skills.

3. Roll out a Red Welcome Mat


The best hoteliers and event producers know nothing screams "special treatment" like red welcome mats. A simple mat with Welcome on the front in a high-traffic area draws attention to your retail business.

When I was in New Zealand, I saw a florist who used red rose petals from old roses scattered across the sidewalk like a carpet to draw the attention of passersby to her beautiful windows and into her shop.

Beth Hnatio-Pumphrey with EJP Studios in Frederick, MD, suggests writing on the sidewalk with chalk. She advises drawing "arrows, cute sayings, types of items or lines you carry. It is different. People notice and it leads them to your door."

4. Put your Best Merchandise out front

During the pandemic, many retailers brought their merchandise outside so shoppers could browse in the open air.  I don't recommend that - especially for apparel. Instead, rotate your best items in the front of your store every day.

If you sell vehicles, like a motorcycle dealer, know that nothing grabs speeding customers’ eyes faster than the display of a shiny new vehicle. And not the cheap one, but the one that turns heads and drives foot traffic because they see that you are the source of excitement. 

5. Add custom parking lot signs

parking-lot-signsLight pole signs – You’ve seen these at gas stations and fast-food restaurants. Make sure these are printed in full color.

For example, a red product photo with text proclaiming, “Valentine's Day Is Coming,” and your logo at the bottom would be great for January. A picture of a child flying a kite with the words, "Be a hero, bring home a kite." You get the idea. The goal is to get away from screaming price all the time. 

Speak with your landlord to see if there is an objection.

The idea with this type of sign is not to “sell” anything (Big Sales 20% off!) but to showcase your best product. Think something short like “Learn To Sew,” “The Perfect Birthday,” or “You Can Cook.”

6. Add pennant flags across your parking lot


A string of pennant flags from a light pole to the front of your business. You can get a multi-color version at sporting goods stores for under $50.

The trick with flags is to replace them about every other month while they are still bright and before they are all ripped.

7. Use murals on buildingsattracting customers

Notice how the children's learning center I discussed in point one, Skribbles, carried their fun theme to their building, too?

If you can make your building immediately recognizable for what you sell, have at it. If you can't, you can still put a tall banner from the roof to the sidewalk in eye-catching colors (think forest green instead of a garish fluorescent pink). At the top, put, “We’ve Got...” and add pictures of your best products.

Again, the goal is not to scream price but to showcase the wants. See if your vendors or even nearby businesses would cooperate to save money. City sign ordinances may seem not to allow, but check – usually, they will let you have it up for 90 days.

If you can't put it on the building, you can get freestanding banner holders to place by your doors. Placed outside, these are used where you cannot use a building banner but with the same message.

Costs for a weighted banner holder can be a couple of hundred dollars and can be changed monthly to refresh your image.

Check out a case study of how we made a retailer's entire store an advertisement.

8. Use wicket yard signs


Wickets are lightweight signs often used by realtors for open houses because of their reasonable cost (less than $30 each). They are pushed into the ground and stand three feet high by two feet wide.

For a limited-time promotion, these might be a good choice for a small business owner to get your message out into your parking lot or next to the sidewalk of a busy intersection.

Some are sturdier than others, but they do not take much wind. Even if your city has sign police, these can generally be used on weekends when they’re off duty.

9. Add sandwich board signs

My Little Red Wagon in Hudson, Ohio, uses its portable sign to challenge its customers. Like this one: "Finish our 9-piece puzzle in less than 5 minutes and get a free puzzle!"

Others use them for a short bulleted list of benefits, a snappy saying, to catch the attention of their target market, or to draw attention to a hard-to-find item.

I spotted this A-frame sign in March of 2022 showing their new protection plan.

Oakley protection A-frame signUsing a professional curb sign like the MDI Windmaster gives your store’s message a professional look. Weatherproof with a base you can fill with sand, water, or anti-freeze, the Windmaster will last for years.

For under $300, you can use this important tool for high-quality color graphics to stand out from your competitors who write a generic “Sale” on an old slapped-together "A" frame sign.

Again, check with local authorities on signage regulations. I've seen some clients only use them on weekends when the sign inspector is off but when foot traffic is highest.

10. Use colorful landscaping and planter boxes

One of the most successful restaurants in California spends very little on ads but a bundle on the landscaping around their restaurants. There is no patch of earth that does not bloom throughout the year.

Why do they do this? Because they know their abundance of flowers will attract customers’ eyes, everyone knows their location in town.

If you have nothing but sidewalks in front of you, plant up some large pots with something like bright red geraniums and keep them watered, fed, and well-maintained. In the winter, plant junipers and string lights on them.

Some of you think, “Guys won’t appreciate that.” Remember, guys are often the ones maintaining their yards.

11. Decorate your store exterior using balloons

IMG_7320Nothing cheaper provides movement and attention to your business than balloons. Be sure to use plenty and replace often as helium deflates in the sun.

If you have a railing, use that.

If you have nowhere to tie them, you can use flat cinder blocks to tie the strings through the holes. If you dislike how cinder blocks look, disguise them with cloth, burlap, or oilcloth.

Don't forget, they also look great in malls. Just check with your management office first.

12. Use QR codes so shoppers can buy from you easily, even when you are closed.



QR codes are those square barcodes you scan to call up information. In a high-traffic retail area, these codes provide a shopper with product details - at night.

For example, a customer scans a QR code you've placed in your front window display. When you're closed or any time they walk by, they can scan or accept the beacon to go to your website and learn more about a product or order it directly from you.

One more tip to stand out from your competition is to make sure you have your parking lot patched and sealed every year– you have to look new and successful, not old and struggling.

When you make yourself look bigger and feature our wants and desires, you’ll pique our interest in what you have waiting inside.

See also, 10 Ways to Merchandise the Inside of Your Store


Two ways to keep Customers Away from your door

1. Human directionals

Nothing looks more desperate than a sign twirler with a red arrow on the sidewalk pointing to the business. Your human directional may get attention, but customers think, “Poor guy.”

If your location is that hidden, you should have thought of that before you opened. You don’t want to be 100 feet from success.

The people chosen for sign wavers are typically the saddest looking people, bored, with headphones in their ears and their eyes vacantly looking into traffic; oftentimes with a cheap beach chair by their side.

Worse is using your kids. Is this the image you want for your business? No.

2. Garage sales

Sticking your old sale merchandise out onto the sidewalk looks like a garage sale. Those driving past will judge you by what you have chosen to represent your business out front, which are things no one wanted, so you put them on sale.

Low-Hanging Fruits to Attract Attention to Your Store

These aren't all innovative ways to attract attention to your store, get more customers, and increase your retail sales, but they can give you an easy lift without a lot of cash outlay.

To really get more sales, you need to convert more lookers to buyers. My online retail sales training program SalesRX can help. 

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