Marketing Starts at the Curb

curb appealDoes your business have curb appeal?  I was walking through a small downtown area recently, and I got to thinking about what caught my eye, what drew me towards a shop, and what repelled me.

I started looking for examples of good curb appeal.  Here’s my checklist.  Maybe you can use it, if you have a bricks and mortar store.

  1. Clean sidewalk area in front of the shop.  I was repelled by the number of shops that had cigarette butts, pigeon poop, swirling papers, sand and dust all milling about in front.  I think we can take a lesson from European shop keepers here.  Sweep in front of your shop.
  2. Exterior décor.  The shops that had floral displays, outside seating, canopies and decorative touches were far more welcoming than those without.  And those that had sale tables outside…well, I couldn’t help but browse.
  3. Clean windows.  Does it really take effort to keep windows clean, so that we can see the…
  4. Ever-changing window displays.  A front window display is one of the finest forms of advertising a shop can have.  And changing the display frequently keeps me coming back.  Ick factor: dead flies, dust and cobwebs…yuck!

For the stores that drew me in, I liked:

A welcoming hearth.  Much like your foyer at home, the space you step into sets the tone.  Is it cluttered with “stuff”, or open, appealing and welcoming?

People like to enter a space and feel it’s inviting, and not intrusive.  That’s why homes have a front foyer.  It lets guests get accustomed to the space, without feeling encroached upon or overwhelmed.  Are there shopping baskets or carts within easy reach?  Are the first few steps someone takes into your store unobstructed?  Does it smell nice?  Does it look nice?

How does staff greet customers?  There’s a big difference between an honest, welcoming, sincere acknowledgement, and a formulaic vulture attack.  Or worse still, an apathetic or complete lack of acknowledgement.

Marketing starts at the curb, before the customer even opens the door.

And if you’re not a “bricks and mortar” business, where is your curb?  Where does your marketing start?

Maybe it’s time to do a curb appeal check for your business.  How’s your curb appeal?

  • SoloBizCoach

    Great advice Kaarina.  I think that every business owner should ask some of their customers what they think about the look of their store.  Customers are usually glad to give their opinions.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      So true Fred: it’s a shame that many don’t do the ask, and many don’t want to hear.  I love to see a shop owner who takes pride in their store’s appearance, inside and out.  Cheers!  Kaarina

  • Bill Dorman

    And it really takes so little and doesn’t cost anything extra to just pay attention to some of the little things.

    You made some excellent observations and you can tell the ones who take pride. These stores that have the artificial ‘hello’ w/out even looking at you when you walk in the door doesn’t do much for me.

    If people are coming to shop at your place, please make them feel welcome and appreciated. Common sense, right?

    Good to see you Kaarina, I hope your day is going well.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Thanks for dropping by the neighbourhood, Bill.  I’m constantly amazed at the number of business owners who are either oblivious to, or uncaring of, the look of their physical plant.  You’re right: it doesn’t take much.  I often also hear the “it’s not my job/responsibility” when it comes to things like sweeping or shovelling snow (yeah, I know the latter one’s not one you have to contend with) in front of their stores: they think it’s the local govt’s responsibility.  So they’d rather not do anything, then blame their municipality when it isn’t taken care of.  Crazy!

      These little tidbits are indeed simple, common sense…something that seems to be in short supply sometimes.  Cheers!  Kaarina  P.S.  Thanks again for the Triberr invite. Heading over to accept now, even though I really don’t have a clue about it.  I’m trusting you:)

      • Bill Dorman

        Actually the invite was mine thru my KBL tribe but somehow you got in Gini’s Next A list which I’m a part of.  Don’t know how that happened and I’m pretty sure that’s not the way it is supposed to work. However, you are ‘in’ and just keep doing your posts like you are and that’s it. Once your next post comes out, check your stream and see who’s name it is going out under (in addition to yours) and check your traffic.

        It’s all good, nothing else to do.

        • Kaarina Dillabough

          Will do.

  • Kim Davies

    Hi, Kaarina, my friend.

    Although I don’t really know that much about marketing, what you are saying here makes sense. It doesn’t take a genius to know that a clean shopfront with beautiful flowers and perhaps some benches and shady awning gets more people to come inside for a look-see and perhaps to buy than one littered with trash. This is generally where you can see the care a business owner has not just for his business but also for the people who helps his business thrive.  :)

    It was a pleasure to drop by here today, my soul sister. Hope you are having a wonderful week so far. Enjoy every day! :)

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting Kim.  Although it makes sense that “it doesn’t take a genius to know…”, I’m stunned by the number of shopkeepers who obviously never look at their store from the outside-in, or just don’t seem to give a care.  I wonder if the front yards of their homes would be treated the same way?

      Great to see you here:) Keep writing – keep sketching.  Cheers!  Kaarina

      • Kim Davies

        You’d be amazed to see how people treat their homes and their businesses in the same way, Kaarina. :)

        I’m writing poems (Whoopee!) and I’m sketching (Sigh!). But, oh, I have gone rusty. Can’t even get female proportions right! But, I’m not giving up just yet. Onward I go! 😉

        P.S. Am including one of my latest poems in my post scheduled for July 2. Hope you will get a chance to read it. 

        Warmest Regards!

        • Kaarina Dillabough

          Kim, I look forward to reading your latest works.  Good for you!  Cheers!  Kaarina

  • Mark Harai

    Hi Kaarina!

    First impressions, whether a physical retail location or virtual real estate, will have a big impact on your business.  

    Clean, crisp, welcoming, warm, inviting — everything a potential new customer see’s and experiences will have an impact on whether or not you have customers or not; new customers and growth; or a declining/dead business. 

    Better keep that broom handy!

    Cheers Kaarina : )  

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Hey my friend, so good to see you here.  I’ve missed you:)  Isn’t funny that some people would never think not to have the “broom handy” in their own homes, but somehow miss the importance of it at their place of business.  And as @marianneworley:disqus pointed out, the “cyber broom” should also be used.

      Always great to see you Mark.  Cheers!   Kaarina

  • Marianne Worley

    Isn’t it amazing how many shops overlook curb appeal? It’s almost like they are putting out a “Do not enter” sign on the front door! The same lesson applies online too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve click to a website only to be greeted by garish colors, loud music, and flashing banners. Definitely not inviting. :-)

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      I’m with you Marianne!  I especially dislike being punched in the face with a pop-up, before I’ve even had the change to engage.  Same with the flash and music and “buy me buy me” stuff.  Definitely not inviting, indeed!  Cheers!  Kaarina

  • Anonymous

    It’s all part of the appeal with the smaller, hip companies that have seemingly come from nowhere and are offering the best deals – a large part of their success is due to the fact that they look after themselves.

    If a shop took the time to keep itself clean, and ensure it had great presentation, then others would notice because of the law of averages; what you put in, you will get out in equal measure. Make your business/store/blog look attractive, welcoming and clean, and others will come to you.

    Because we all like clean :-)

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      You got it Stu!  It seems like such a simple, logical thing: keep everything associated with your business “sparkling clean” and appealing.  Can’t understand why a business owner would want it any other way.  Cheers!  Kaarina

  • davinabrewer

    This. @shonali:twitter did a post not too long ago, talking about the ‘dress’ or curb appeal of the website which often IS the business, totally the same idea. I tend to prefer shopping at Target over Walmart for these reasons, it just seems neater, tidier. That little extra attention to detail.. Disney World has been famous for that and you can tell the minute you drive on property. Everything is designed with curb appeal in mind. In the parks, they routinely shutdown rides and venues for significant improvements each year. Every day they’ll inspect and clean so that everything is just so, looks just so. Oh and many attractions or special events, they’ll use a certain fragrance so that it smells just so too. Yes I’m a WDW fangirl. 😉 FWIW.

    • Shonali Burke

      I love that you’re a WDW fangirl. And I haven’t forgotten about your site/blog thingy… I was actually thinking of just calling you (high time we chatted anyway, no?) when I’m back from vaca…

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      I just don’t get why people don’t get the importance of curb appeal, merchandising and plain old cleanliness.  Like I really want to buy something from a store that looks like Animal House on the day after the party.  That might be a bit of a stretch, but when I see the unkempt look of someplaces, I want to buy the owner a mirror.

      Have never been to Disney, but read a book once about how they place the garbage cans based on how far they measured someone would carry a piece of trash.  So good, so smart.  I’m going to take an imaginary ride on the teacups now.  Cheers!  Kaarina

      • davinabrewer

        If you ever go to do WDW 1) don’t be afraid to ask me questions as I love to give advice and 2) let us know all the little things you notice. Some little detail always catches my eye, something that makes me see how smart they are with their marketing, their services, etc. :-) 

        • Kaarina Dillabough

          Will do. Must put WDW on my places to visit.  Is it near that @a76049f6a32a1e633a732b81bafb98c9:disqus ….are you listening Bill? :)  Cheers!  Kaarina

          • Anonymous

            Uh, like 45 minutes away……….

          • Kaarina Dillabough

            A plan could be percolating there Hollywood.  What’s your opinion on people who set up tents on your lawn…just askin’

          • Adam Toporek

            Please come to Disney. But stay in a hotel not @a76049f6a32a1e633a732b81bafb98c9:disqus ‘s lawn — we need the tourist dollars!

          • Kaarina Dillabough

            I’m LOL Adam:)

      • Marianne Worley

        If you’re ever in Southern California, Disneyland is a must-visit too! Not as huge as WDW, but awesome nonetheless. 

  • Adam Toporek

    Very good points Kaarina. While it’s important everywhere (as you and Davina note), in retail, the attention to “curb appeal” is paramount because people are in a physical environment. I think business owners truly underestimate the subconscious effect (much less the conscious effect) that clutter, trash, and disrepair have on a customer’s feelings towards a business.

    And speaking for Central Florida, the Disney team are absolute masters at this.

    • Kaarina Dillabough

      Can’t wait to see the Disney masters for real.  And since Bill doesn’t know I plan to camp out on his lawn, we can keep that between us for now…shhhh…Cheers!  Kaarina

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