Category: Life long impressions

Are you really open when you’re open?

One of my biggest gripes that happens with bricks and mortar businesses is in regards to opening and closing times.

Businesses that close at 5:30pm, but already look closed at 5:15pm.

Do you think that makes the customer feel comfortable or uncomfortable? It’s obviously the latter, and making customers feel uncomfortable is a problem for business.

Here are three examples:

  1. Being in a cafe and they start taking the garbage out and stacking chairs while you’re there (within the advertised opening time).
  2. Being at a retail store that starts shutting down computers and is more focused on packing up then helping you.
  3. Taking the signs in from outside before you’ve closed so to anyone passing by you look closed already.

You might think it’s an efficient use of time because business is slow in the last 15 minutes, but let me promise you that giving a customer a substandard experience certainly won’t start attracting more customers. You’ll just end up getting quieter and quieter.

Think of the big brands, they generally have a 10 minute and 5 minute call ready for their doors to be closed at that time. There’s a consistency, but they don’t reduce the experience you’re getting so they can get out early.

The benefit behind a bricks and mortar store is that you have the opportunity to immerse your customer in an experience that online stores can’t match.

How good is that experience if you’ve already started packing up or if you’re not ready when people arrive in the morning.

Your customer experience should be like an event. You don’t rock up to a concert and they’re still setting up. The stage is set before you arrive. You don’t want the magic to be tainted because some of the musicians were just hanging out in front of the curtain before the curtain opened.

And there’s another danger – they stop coming because you look closed!

If you’re paying rent for a bricks and mortar store, it’s important you look open when you’re actually open – especially if you’re paying premium rent at a site that has good passing traffic.

Life’s too busy for customers to remember when everyone closes, so if you look shut I just don’t stop. It’s that simple.

Be open when you’re open, and close when you’re closed. If you don’t want to stay till 5:30pm then set the expectation that you close at 5:15pm and delight them if they come to the door and you grab something for them.

The point:
Whatever you do, when a customer interacts with your business give them the full experience and your full attention.


Read more blogs on how to delight your customer here, or download our free ebook ’10 things small business must stop dong NOW.’

5 things you need to know about music in your business

Four years ago I was staying at the Sofitel Brisbane. I walked in to the room and a song was playing on the TV – “Life is magnifique”. I actually left the song on the TV for much of my stay. I loved it. It fit perfectly with the ambiance and brand values of Sofitel which is as a French luxury hotel where “life is magnifique”.

I tried to get the song, but found it was recorded specifically for Sofitel and wasn’t publicly available. The other day I stumbled across a video clip of it, and I’ve played it over and over again.

Together with my background as an event manager it has always been important for me to understand how, during the customer experience, we reach out to all of the senses.

1. Have ‘some’ audio at the right level 
Now it’s not just about having the right music to connect, it’s about having ‘some’ music. I’ve been in to stores where there is NO music. It feels stark. It feels uncomfortable to talk in. Any sudden sound from dropping a plate too heavily to having the phone ring can instantly startle people. No one likes to feel like they’re the only noise in the room. Unless you’re a library, you’ll at least want some ambient sound (it’s not enough to really notice, but it takes the chill off the silence). You might have it at a level where it’s noticeable but doesn’t interrupt conversation, then of course if you’re an entertainment venue you’ll known where your sound levels need to be at. 

2. Get the right music
We all have iTunes. Make up a play list that suits the right times of the day, and fits with the values of your business. As yourself, how do I want my clients to feel? Think of your business as a movie scene…you want the right mood to set the scene.

3. Get coverage correctly positioned
You may have areas of the customer experience where you want your audio levels to be quieter (like service areas) and louder (like on the street to get the vibe). But I’ve seen some businesses that are too loud in one area and almost silent in the next.

4. Don’t promote your competitors
Don’t use a radio station if your competitors advertise on it flat out. The last thing you want to do when you’re trying to immerse customers in your brand is to have your competitors name bouncing in!

5. Make a memory
I’ve stayed in a lot of different hotels, but as soon as I heard the Sofitel song again, I immediately remembered the time I had in Brisbane, what the room looked like, the lounge on the top floor, the gym, the restaurant for breakfast. All of that experience was aligned too – Magic and magnifique. The sensory experience of my time at Sofitel came flooding back to me. So understand that music takes people back to memories so make sure the experience they remember is good enough to have them raving about you.

Now…here’s the song if you’d like to listen. Still not available other than on this clip:


If you enjoyed this blog, you might like to read Is your brand on the nose? 


Is your brand on the nose?

You smell good…

Ok, that may have just sounded creepy!

But brands are developed around all the senses not just what we see or hear.

Over the past few days I’ve realised I need to remind people about the importance of smell.

In 2013 I went to a Pink concert and she told the audience how good her keyboard player smells (it was something about the cologne he wore) which obviously got a great cheer from the audience and to be honest even I wanted to know what it was he was wearing.

The next morning I picked up a towel in the hotel I was staying at and as soon as I went to dry my hair I realised it smelled like the cleaning stuff they used to use at my pre-school! That was 30 years ago, and funnily enough I loved that smell. It made me feel good. Smell can be a really influential touch point.

One fast food chicken chain have a certain ability to pump out their smell, yet another local chicken place has a horrible smell that comes from it – I know which one makes my tummy rumble yet it isn’t the one that makes me feel the best after eating it.

is your brand on the nose?


The point:

Your senses create the gut feeling that can motivate you to act. The need for a business to take advantage of all of the customer senses is often overlooked. It may seem trivial but it’s important – smell alone gives you multiple opportunities to delight your customer and create an association with your brand that could be retriggered even years later. Is it the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans that draws the customer in…or does your business smell like unpleasant detergent? It makes a big difference.

So, two questions to ponder:

1. Which brands have an aroma that had a negative or positive impact on you?

2. Can you implement something consistent in your office, store or customer experience that delights your customer’s sense of smell and resonates with your intended brand experience?

If you think it’s more than smell that’s holding the success of your business back, download our free eBook ’10 things small business must STOP doing NOW’ and discover how you can propel your businesses success onward and upward.


One final word, if you’ve got things that smell bad…get that bit fixed first!



What’s your Brand Wonderland?

Hi there!

What’s your Brand Wonderland?

This week I heard the most exciting news. It took me back to some of the happiest days of my life, in fact I don’t think I can remember a place where as a kid I felt more excited. Knowing that this place could one day be open again gave me a feeling in my tummy that I can’t even describe.

Just the hint of what was the largest theme park in the Southern Hemisphere Australia’s Wonderland being reincarnated had grabbed my attention. I just stumbled across someone ‘liking’ a post about it on Facebook, but to say I was excited is an understatement. I was like a kid in a candy shop, or should I say a Wonderland?!

But what does this have to do with brand? Everything.

Businesses around the world spend a lot on advertising (making promises) and not enough on creating the experience. As soon as I saw a little glimpse that an ex-employee of Wonderland now turned property developer was so in love with the place that he wanted to bring it back, I couldn’t help but throw myself head deep in to nostalgia.

I opened a new browser window to and looked at the photos, the maps, the specs of the rides and the ads to see what I could remember. Now despite getting the “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world was Wonderland?” jingle in my head, I didn’t actually remember that jingle from my childhood, although I’m sure I drove my parents mad with it at the time. What this reminded me of is that advertising may have compelled me at the time (and is still therefore important) but it didn’t build me as a convert for life.

What I DO remember is:

  • seeing all of my favourite cartoon characters on TV singing and dancing in the stage shows.
  • getting cuddly photos with them all.
  • walking around a corner and being intrigued by a new ‘land’.
  • being scared by jumping on the huge wooden roller coaster knowing that I’d bitten off more than I could chew.
  • remembering the laughs at the look on my grandmothers face when a water jet drenched her on Snowy River Rampage.
  • I remember collecting the Coke cans that could each earn you $2 off park entry (as a kid I thought I was doing my parents a favour!)

In fact I don’t just remember it, I feel it.

Similarly, I still remember as a 10 year old kid seeing the flashing neon light at the top of the driveway to the casino in Launceston Tasmania. It’s not because it was a flashing light, but because it meant we were going somewhere special (and it wasn’t about gambling at all).

Another example is the closure of Ansett. I can remember being part of the ‘Ansett Starship Crew’ which obviously made a deep impression on me as a kid. Again the events in these years made me feel something because I was going somewhere special. Obviously seeing Ansett come to a close was a sad day for me because it brought back all of those good memories.


The Point…

So often a brand only concentrates on their advertising with little regard to creating the magic through the rest of the experience. Are you investing in creating a Wonderland of your own? Even if children aren’t your target market, are you taking the time to build rapport with them? You have the opportunity to make life long impressions, and over that time that could prove to be a very lucrative relationship!

If you want some tips, 10 in fact, get your hands on our latest free eBook ’10 things small business must stop doing now’. These tips will help you consider what’s holding your brand back so you can make changes towards becoming a brand wonderland with life long converts of your own.


But just to show that I do love the advertising too…here’s a flashback to the TV commercial for Wonderland. Read the comments, where others reminisce about the ad as a kid and hearing it played as the theme park closed. Critical touch points that leave deep impressions.

Check it out: Australia’s Wonderland Sydney – Early 90’s TV Commercial. What memories does it bring back for you?