A week or so ago, I visited one of my favorite places on the planet—my local Target department store.
I went to the store to buy a three-dollar pair of socks. I emerged from the store $130 lighter and with a whole lot of stuff that I don't need and will probably never use. The kicker is that I forgot to buy the socks.
It is only now— with my buyer's remorse having subsided—that I fully understand why I bought a lot of the stuff that I did.
I can sum it up in a single word:
One of the things that Target does exceptionally well—certainly better than many of its department store brethren—is the presentation of merchandise to its consumers. The stores rely on a combination of clean, wide aisles, helpful employees, cleverly designed store fixtures and a sophisticated aesthetic that uses color and texture to attract customers like you and me.
For my part—and in spite of my effort to make a bee-line straight for the part of the store where the socks are kept—I found myself stopping, time and again, at the various little “diversions” set-up throughout the building for the sake of selling me the latest in battery-operated electric toothbrushes, or the new super-mega-deluxe edition of some DVD. I spent nearly 30 minutes in the store's new “World Market” section (featuring furnishings inspired by Asian and African artwork) alone. Rarely did I even venture down an aisle. In fact, most of the stuff I bought was from free-standing displays, or from racks positioned on the ends of the aisles. Like I said, those guys are good!
Presentation plays a big role in our world, too. There's the obvious aspect—how parts look after they've been plated, painted or powder coated. But presentation also has a lot to do with the image that your business conveys. Does the exterior of your shop present a successful image to passers-by? What about your company brochures and business cards—what do they say about you? When customers tour your facility or visit an open house, do they get an image of a clean, well-lit efficient environment staffed by happy workers? Or do they see a dark, grimy dungeon and workers who care about nothing more than making it to closing time?
Yes, I know...image isn't everything. But for better or worse, we live in a world where people will make immediate and long-lasting judgments about your business based on little more than a few seconds of observation. Your ability to present a positive image is the first step in making the difference between establishing your business as a place that struggles to attract customers, and one which they can't seem to stay away from.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy some socks.