c-store marketing
“So the size of the store keeps growing, and it’s going to grow because of beer and growing food service that’s going to require seating and other things. Convenience stores sell time. When people are in a hurry, they think of a convenience store, and they love us because they can pull up in front and they can be in, they can be out.” – Scott Hartman, CEO of Rutter’s (source)

Convenience stores have certainly evolved over the past few decades. They’re not just competing with each other but are now competing with quick-service restaurants, too. There are some common marketing challenges that c-stores face today, and out-of-home advertising (OOH) is an effective option. C-stores vie for the attention of people who are out-and-about, and OOH media can reach 80% of consumers on an average day (source: OAAA). What’s more, 16% of people who view an OOH ad have visited the advertised business immediately after seeing the ad. Using this type of marketing, along with digital marketing retail companies hope to reach potential customers. (source: Nielsen).

App Adoption

Most major convenience store chains have apps for delivering real-time gas prices, winning lottery numbers and exclusive coupons. C-store apps are getting more complex with mobile ordering, mobile payments and even requesting drone delivery services. Almost every c-store has a loyalty program, rewarding customers with offers and using their app to track points and purchases.

A MindSea study found that 48% of millennials identify an app’s unique features and functionality as the top influencer for downloading the app. Secondly, 45% of millennials rely on friend referrals.

Field marketing campaigns are a great way to educate your audience on the app features, as well as boost word-of-mouth.

A 30-second TV or radio spot cannot give as much detail – and can also be fast-forwarded through or skipped altogether. But if a friendly brand ambassador approached you, gave you a small incentive for listening to their pitch and explained the benefits of an app to you, you’d be more inclined to pay attention. A brand ambassador could explain the functionality and answer questions on the spot. If the app was appealing enough, an instant download could ensue. In today’s digital world, it’s gratifying to have a personal interaction.

Physical-world experience is also tweet-worthy. One person shares the messaging to his or her network, and so does the next one, which elicits an organic buzz surrounding your app and your brand. Giving someone an incentive to share – or by taking the consumer’s photo – can inspire more friend suggestions to download your app. When you can draw them into your store, ‘wow’ them and create another social media opportunity. This offline-to-online-to-offline cycle produces inherent brand love growth.

Once downloaded, your content team must continually engage your fans with rewarding offers and helpful digital tools. Push notify them strategically – but not too many times – to keep the app useful and on devices. You must always be doing something a little bit better than your competition to continue to earn word-of-mouth recognition. App management is a fine balance – too much presence and your opt-in rate will drop. But if providing real value to someone, your app will become a natural go-to.

It all starts with informing your audience about the features and functionality. This demands a longer consumer engagement than traditional media can deliver.

Grand Openings

Mobile billboards are highly effective in promoting grand openings. They are attention-grabbers and can target within close proximity to your new location. It might also benefit your business if your store looks attractive to customers. For example, some people believe that having the front of your store in glass is attractive and looks modern. Some businesses like this, some don’t. However, you need to make your own decision, you can always learn more about storefront doors if you’re interested in adding them to your new store.

We also recommend being in the market at least two to four weeks prior to the grand opening, as well as during the first week of opening. The mobile billboard generates awareness, interest and even action. Any physical advertising can help a business as it is seen by people out and about, generating a buzz from them wanting to learn more. Putting up posters as well as billboards in the areas you want to advertise in can also up your online traffic from offline advertising. Your posters will need to be of quality printing, you can invest in a printer like the Mimaki CJV150 from Signmaster Systems for your business to use, the possibilities are endless.

“Mobile billboards raise brand awareness, so they are fitting for grand openings,” explains Shari Maher, VP national accounts at do it outdoors media. “Our strategic routing places the larger-than-life advertisement within close proximity to the new store location. This not only excites the community but drives foot traffic.”

No other media gets as close to the grand opening or your target audience as a mobile billboard, which can drive exactly where you need it to go. Physical promotional materials are just as important as online promotions. Hiring a postcard maker or a flyer maker can really help get the word out for your company.

Many grand opening celebrations include media opportunities with a ribbon-cutting ceremony…but fall flat after that. Sure, you can give the first 100 people a free coffee or a chance to win fuel for a year. But how do you get everyone who visits you excited about the new store?

We recommend a full retailtainment experience during the first few days of a store opening – or longer, if possible. By creating a memory for a consumer, you create a powerful tie to your brand in the consumer’s mind.

Under-performing Stores

No one likes to admit when a store is struggling to meet sales quotas, but it happens. Offering store-specific promotions and executing a revitalization campaign might be just the ticket to saving the store. Once you’ve done a deep-dive into the management of the store and fixed any internal processes, it’s time to re-promote.

Here is where a combination of media is really very powerful. Use two or three mobile billboards during different day parts to heighten your out-of-home media coverage. Even though each mobile billboard driver only works for eight hours, you could schedule multiple units for staggered day coverage. Promote morning meals on your first creative, lunch or dinner options on your middle-of-the-day creative and your late-night options on a third. Depending on the hours you start and stop each, have multiple units running together during peak hours.

While the mobile billboards stir awareness and remind the community you’re still there, offering great deals, a JetPack team could get more personal with your neighbors. Treat folks on the street, as well as workers of nearby businesses, with a free cup of coffee and coupons to come in and try something new. Canvass the area, let them know of any changes at the store you’ve made recently and invite them back in again.

Saturate the local market by adding geofenced mobile banner display ads that share the same messaging as the mobile billboard creative for a clear, cohesive campaign.

“Mobile + OOH has the potential to revolutionize the medium and elevate the conversation brands are having with their consumers,” says Mikhail Damiani of Blue Bite.

It’s this combination of media at a hyper-local level that can overcome a downturn in sales for one of your under-performing stores.

Food/New Items

In Pennsylvania, it’s big news that convenience stores can now sell beer. (I’ll wait for you to finish scratching your head. Believe it or not, it’s only a recent development that we can pick up a six-pack on the go.) Those c-stores who are first to market with beer sales will want to promote this competitive advantage in their neighborhoods. But whether its beer or a new burger option, you want to get the word out.

A combination of mobile billboards and field marketing can also be used to effectively spread the word about these new items, as well as doing signage at the pumps to draw filler-uppers to come inside. If your app is highly used in market, adding beacon-enabled media to your mix can send exclusive offers to your fans’ phones. Or, try an SMS text-to-get offer within your creative to drive immediate sales action.

Depending on the item, sampling might be an option. Using sampling bicycles, brand ambassadors can distribute pre-packaged foods throughout the community, enticing them to get to the store for a larger order.

Everyone likes to try new things, so have fun with your creative and campaign.


As mentioned earlier, loyalty programs are pretty important for most c-store brands. They allow you to collect data about shopper behavior and preferences, and they give you a way to reward your fans with personalized offers or exclusive content.

But do all of your consumers participate in your rewards program? Probably not.

We have had much success utilizing brand ambassadors with tablets or near field communication (NFC) cards to make signing up for loyalty programs quick and easy.

We know your cashiers are trained to ask everyone to join. But when it gets busy, or they forget or they ask the consumer to sign up later online themselves, the likelihood of new memberships can’t be guaranteed. With a dedicated campaign a few times of year to boost loyalty memberships in your key markets, you will see a spike in participants.

Our brand ambassadors are paid employees, not contractors, and are fully trained on your campaign objectives, branding and key messages. Plus, every field marketing campaign comes with an on-site event manager to ensure everything runs smoothly in the field and to keep an eye on the metrics. Where or when possible, the campaign can be tweaked in real-time to improve results.

Now, that’s rewarding for you and your audience!

If you’re looking for c-store marketing ideas, give us a call. We never shy away from discussing how out-of-home media can strengthen your marketing mix.