From the October 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

You know that musty display case in your store that hasn't been opened in three years and is coated with dust? Ever wonder why you can't seem to sell what's inside it? Hopefully, you've answered that question by now. If you haven't, your store may need a serious mood makeover.

Your store's sights, sounds and smells create a mood that encourages clients to either shop in your store and recommend you to friends--or run screaming for the door. "Many business owners think their stores are perfect and [don't] see them through their customers' eyes," says Linda Calder, a visual consultant and co-owner of Complements, a retail accessories store in Topsfield, Massachusetts. And that mistake could be threatening your business.

Calder recommends these steps for improving your store's mood:

1. Think about a store you love to visit. What prompts you to go there?

2. Trash the cheesy bags. "If you sell expensive items," says Calder, "putting them in a white plastic bag is a big no-no."

3. Appeal to the senses. "If you own a coffee shop, make sure customers can smell the freshly brewed coffee, and maybe have jazz music playing," says Calder. "If it's a baby store, make sure they can smell the baby powder."

4. Evaluate your displays. They should be sharp, current and reflective of your merchandise.

5. Clean! Take some time every day to dust, replace burnt-out bulbs, vacuum or sweep, and straighten displays.

Follow Calder's advice, and soon your store will be filled with silent marketing tools that demand your customers' undivided attention.

You Oughta Be In . . . Ads

Get on the free press gravy train.

By Gwen Moran

When one of Maria Barraza's friends told her American Express was looking for women- and minority-owned small businesses to profile in an advertising campaign, Barraza, 43, immediately sent her information to the credit card company. The New York City-based Barraza Associates Ltd., a clothing design and manufacturing company, turned out to be just right for AmEx, which put the owner's face--and her fashions--in magazines nationwide.

As testimonial advertising gets hotter, more entrepreneurs are finding themselves in the media spotlight, doing great things for their businesses at no cost to them. Barraza's AmEx campaign has led to publicity in the New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, and on TV as well as at national speaking engagements.

If you want to star in an ad for your favorite product, take Barraza's advice.

1. Network, network, network. Meeting people increases your visibility.

2. Have your information ready at all times. You never know when opportunity will knock, so prepare your materials now.

3. Be flexible. AmEx wanted to hold the shoot at a location other than Barraza's studio, so she went along with it.

Web Site

http://www.demographics.com/directory

By Robert McGarvey

Wouldn't it be great if there were a directory that listed only marketing and sales resources--market research firms, sellers of demographics, consultants well-versed in ethnic-marketing techniques? Well, that directory exists. Visit the Marketing Tools Directory, an easily searched database of marketing experts and resources. Note: Only advertisers are included, so that means listed firms aren't the only good ones, and not every listed firm is necessarily top caliber. But there are plenty of listings for your consideration, and many provide Web links for easy additional investigation on your part.

Flash

Grill 'em: When customers call to inquire about your product or service, don't just offer answers--ask questions. And make sure you capture a name and phone number to add to your database.

Good causes: More than 60 percent of consumers believe cause-related marketing should be a standard business practice, according to the Direct Link marketing newsletter.

Contact Sources

Barraza Associates Ltd., 450 Seventh Ave., #1008, New York, NY 10123, (877) BNY-8886

Complements, (978) 777-0211, complements1@email.msn.com