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Marketing 101: First Impressions

January 2013
By: Jerry Thacker

Retailers have studied consumer behavior for many years. They have experimented with the way stores are laid out and lighted. They have tinkered with the size of product "facings," that is, the width of packaging facing the consumer, and they have even had trackers follow consumers around to see what they pick up, how long they look at it, and whether they put it down.

They also know that the first fifteen feet inside most retail stores is wasted space. Why? Because the typical shopper is on his way into the store to find a specific item or items. They blow right past the first fifteen feet as if there were nothing there. They fix their eyes on a goal when they enter the store and walk toward that goal, whether it is the food section, the clothing section, or the vitamin aisle.

Retail display experts also know that the external appearance of the store is extremely important for getting people to come inside. It must be inviting, friendly, well lighted, and bright.

Have you looked at your CPC/PCC lately to see what folks really see when they come? Perhaps it's time to look at things from a fresh perspective. Is the outside of the building clean and neat? Is the entrance well lighted? Does your center give the appearance of being a place that is safe and inviting?

When people come in the door, does the directional signage show them the way to go in simple terms? What will they see first, second, and third? Is the reception area brightly lit and welcoming? Is your center decorated in a friendly, caring way that shows attention to cleanliness, order, and service? Are the chairs in the waiting area comfortable for someone who is pregnant? Are the reading materials, brochures, and magazines current and in good repair? Do the wall hangings or pictures connote a cheery and friendly atmosphere?

With the coming of spring, perhaps it's time to take a fresh look at what your clients will see and make the appropriate updates. We may not have the profit motive that businesses have, but we honor Christ when we make our ministries inviting to those who need our help.

Jerry Thacker, B.A., M.A., is President of Right Ideas, Inc., and Publisher of At the Center. He can be reached at

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