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Sense of Place

Turn your store into a sensory experience.

The scent of tea and baked goods fills the air inside Janam Indian Tea, and the music of local artists plays quietly on a surround-sound system. While seated on furniture draped in sumptuous fabrics, patrons enjoy their food and drink from fine china. Deep, rich colors evoke the mood of an Indian tearoom-right in the heart of Jersey City, New Jersey.

"It takes you far away and makes it a complete tea immersion experience," says owner Amy Dubin, 33.

Martin Lindstrom, author of Brand Sense: Build Powerful Brands Through Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight and Sound, says the senses matter: Playing the right music can increase revenue up to 29 percent, the right smell up to 82 percent. He suggests you:

  • Use a "sensogram." Draw a pentagram, and note on each point how your business appeals to each of the five senses. "You don't need to appeal to all senses," Lindstrom says. "A few will do if you're good at it."
  • Identify sensory signals you already know-how your store smells, the colors used in your décor-and compare them to your competitors' signals.
  • Make it your own. Dubin, for example, offers free samples so customers can learn more about the teas she sells.

Above all, says Lindstrom, measure what's working.

Gwen Moran is co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans.

This story appears in the March 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »