I do not have any letters after my name. I have no PHD nor any other symbol of educational prowess following my name. I am essentially self-educated and I admit that I had a pretty crappy teacher.
I am loathe to admit it but I have spent way the hell too many years of my life in retail. Retail is a chamber of Hell that Dante forgot to mention. It is where we venture when we compromise between true happiness and some Capitalist apocalyptic scenario.
Back when I was a kid I used to fantasize about being a shopkeeper. Seriously? Who — whether child or adult — fantasizes about being a shopkeeper?
Well, I did. I used to like to play ‘store’ when I was a wee lad. I would gather a bunch of stuff together and pretend it was all part of my inventory. I had an imaginary cash register. I forced all my siblings and anyone within earshot to shop at my store.
All of my inventory was laid out in an artistic, symmetrical, visually appealing way. I was an eight-year-old being sucked into an awful world of retail.
My imaginary store was awesome!
Then there was that time several decades later when I found myself being the owner and operator of a real-life, 3D, brick and mortar store! My childhood fantasies had materialized — whether I wanted them to or not.
I learned a lot through experience.
One of the things I learned is that while conventional business wisdom dictates certain avenues of success, there is one study that is repeatedly ignored. And that is, Olfactory Marketing.
Every potential customer/consumer has one thing in common: They all have a nose!
Okay, they may have several things in common but the nose is one portal that breaches dimensions and illuminates neuronal pathways in the noggin that alter our perception of reality.
I once had a dear friend who was color-blind. I had no earthly idea that he was color-blind until his wife told me about it a year after we became friends.
“You’re shittin’ me! Seriously? He’s color-blind? I had no idea… Oh, wait a minute! Does this explain why he is so sensitive to smell?”
She smiled as she nodded her head affirmatively, “I have to pick out his clothes for him because he can’t tell the difference between purple and green. But a month ago I was at a crafts store and I bought a bag of potpourri. When I got home I immediately took the potpourri down to the basement so that HE would not smell it. He hates potpourri. I put it in a fucking air-tight zip-lock bag and then wrapped it in paper then put it in a box on the top shelf of the basement.”
“When he got home from work and was only about 3 or 4 steps into the house he bolted upright and proclaimed, ‘Did someone buy potpourri today? Oh my God! I can smell it!’ I’ve hidden all sorts of things from him over the years but I have learned that the one thing I simply cannot hide is something with a smell. Without giving me a kiss hello, he bolted for the stairs leading down into the basement. Within less than two minutes, he had the box where I hid to potpourri down from its place on the shelves, ‘You bought potpourri today and you thought you could hide it from me?’”
My friend regaled me of stories of deception and intrigue and olfactory plot twists.
It made me ponder the power of the nose.
Back when I was the supreme commander of my retail outlet I conducted experiments in Olfactory Marketing. I learned a lot.
I learned that humans react to olfactory stimuli — both consciously and subconsciously. Before opening my store each morning I smudged the entire store with first sage then cedar then sweet-grass. Sage dispels negative vibrations, cedar attracts positive vibration, and sweet-grass purifies everything.
During the course of the day I burned various incenses, depending on the time of year. In spring I would burn flowery incenses. In autumn I would burn earthen essences. In summer I would burn the exciting and exotic fragrances. In winter — especially around the holidays — I would burn frankincense and myrrh and copal.
Before book signings and other gatherings, as well as when the store was crowded, I burned dried lavender flowers. It’s amazing how people instantly relax smelling lavender.
How can anyone be a shopkeeper and not provide the smells that go along with what you are selling? That is the ultimate challenge is it not? When you are selling something you are selling the inter-dimensional portals between realities. Each of our senses are inter-dimensional portals. Our noses are what so many salesmen fail to speak to. We are so busy with our mouths and our ears that we forget our almighty noses.
When people came into my bookstore one of the first things they would do was lift their nose up into the air and take a very deep whiff. My bookstore was an olfactory refuge from the nitty gritty workaday toxic smells OUT THERE in the world. With that first whiff of air the customer coming into my shop was immediately transported to a whole different dimension; a place where they could escape and relax and let their imagination run rampant.
Imagine that you are very hungry so you go to your favorite Chinese restaurant. Upon entering the restaurant you are overcome by the wonderful smell of the food. What happens to your hunger? It drastically increases!
Olfactory Marketing is a valuable tool that sadly is under-utilized. After all, there is no smell on the internet and that is where everyone’s focus is. (Can you imagine every website you visit having its own unique smell?)
Can you smell it? Can you taste it? Can you really see it? Do you see the colors? Do you feel the textures? Are you invigorated? Do you connect with All That Is?
Give your nose a pat on the back for all it does for you.
As for successful retail, there are other important tools in addition to Olfactory Marketing, such as sound vibration and visual vibration. And one of the most important necessities of good retail is chi. Chi may be the most important consideration. Perhaps I will blabber about some of these other aspects of retail in some future tutorial. Who knows?
Here is the follow-up story to this one, the next article in my Retail Mojo series: