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In The Mood

Silent marketing tools that appeal to the senses

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.

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Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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This article was originally published in the October 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: In The Mood.

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