Marketing for Appearances

Have you ever driven past a small business and thought it looked dingy, dilapidated or outdated? Have you ever been on a website that felt cumbersome to use, with the information you sought hard to find? Perhaps you think the business owners must not care anymore, or they don’t have the budget to fix things up. Even worse for the business, you might not think anything, but simply keep driving or surfing the web.

If it’s been awhile since you invested in your business’s appearance, customers could be thinking the same about you. After a few years, a business owner’s familiarity with her surroundings can cause her to overlook the slow decay of time.  Take a fresh look at the impression you are making on customers when they see your business for the first time.

You only have one chance at a first impression, goes the adage. And your first impression with customers is crucial- what they notice first sets the tone for how or if they will do business with you.

Your business’s exterior needs to be welcoming, easy to understand and clearly explain who you are. Your exterior could be a brick-and-mortar store, a website or even your sales team. Here are some examples to get you thinking.

Good Exteriors for Marketing

The Pink Box is a boutique in my neighborhood that shows a great exterior appearance, with a fresh sign and interesting window display. It’s easy to know when they are open and what you can buy from them.

My favorite part of The Pink Box’s exterior is this cheerful open sign. On chilly or hot days when the store must keep the door closed, this sign serves as a beacon to everyone on the square.

There’s a lovely inn in Carmel, CA that looks just as lovely when you first drive up. The Candle Light Inn looks inviting, and it’s easy for newcomers to know where to park when they arrive.

Not to overload on the pink, but the Olde Pink House Restaurant in Savannah, GA does a great job of communicating their stately yet fun vibe with their exterior.

The menu board on the front steps also helps customers know what kind of food to expect.

Camp Washington Chili hasn’t been around since 1771 like the Olde Pink House, but they have been in the same location since 1940. They’ve really kept their exterior fresh and updated, which contributes to their continued success. And with that sign, you certainly know what they sell!

Not-so-good Exteriors for Marketing

Often, seeing bad examples is just as useful as seeing good ones. Here are some unfortunate businesses that really could stand to improve their exterior appearance.

The BonBonerie is one of the best and most creative bakeries in Cincinnati, OH. For a new customer, it’s very difficult to find the entrance, because it is facing the parking lot, not the main street. This kind of confusion could cause a customer to drive away instead of stopping in.

This exterior inspires more questions than appetites. Did Laurie and Debi have a fight? Is this supposed to be a joke? What exactly is the name of this restaurant, anyway?

Casbah is a great Moroccan restaurant in Savannah, GA, with an inspired decor, great staff and delicious food. But you could never tell from the outside. If your sign is old and faded, and your canopy is dingy and worn, many new customers will pass you by.

To see some examples of websites and logos, read my articles, “Web Design Essentials for Small Business” and “Small Business Logo Design.”

There’s good news. Even if your business looks more like the bad than good examples, you can start making things better today. Your website might need a redesign, or your building a complete remodel, but there are small steps you can take to incrementally improve your appearance. Need some ideas? Send me an email or call me at 513.833.4203.

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