While in Florida to visit our son and his young family this past week, the wife and I visited an IKEA store. Visiting an IKEA store is an experience.

Upon entering the huge rectangular blue and yellow store (IKEA is a Swedish-based retailer), we found ourselves in front of an escalator that whisked us to a small restaurant area that offered us the prospect of a quick inexpensive meal and hot coffee. Once we left the restaurant area we began weaving our way through the store’s one-way layout, zigzagging through display after display of self-assemble furniture, housewares, linens and just about anything you might need to furnish your home.

It seemed like we walked a mile before we came to the checkout area. An IKEA store is huge, with more than 300,000 square feet of retail space, a store associate told me. 

About a third of the way through our meandering journey, we came across some neat stacks of colorful Tofbo, ultra-soft, absorbent products. Tofbo?

Not knowing what Tofbo meant or what precisely the colorful squares of fabric were, I asked my wife. "They’re bath mats," she responded, gently unfolding and stroking the incredibly soft mats. She was openly surprised I wouldn’t recognize something so obvious as a bath mat.

As I studied my wife’s reaction to the stacks of mats it occurred to me that she wasn’t viewing them as something as inconsequential as tiny fluffy rugs. (Yes, after four decades of marriage I can read my wife’s mind….sometimes.) To my wife the Toftbos offered the promise of:

1. something soft and warm for her bare feet rather than cold floor tile on winter nights.

2. a splash of bright color that would accent and beautify her bathroom.

The bath mats (and the language used to describe them) had awakened a buying emotion within her. She wasn’t thinking about the product itself, but of what it signified in terms of warmth for her feet and the color it would add to her bathroom.

Think about how powerful emotions play in our buying decisions, which takes us to the subject of how we market and sell our landscape services.

For our commercial clients, we’re not selling and providing mowing, landscaping and snow plowing. We’re giving them neatly striped lawns and professionally groomed greenery that draw more customers or attract renters to their locations.

We’re delivering products and services that enhance the prestige and standing of our residential customers within their respective communities. We’re fulfilling promises of providing homeowners with nicer, safer lawns for their children. We’re offering them the prospect of being able to play golf or attend their children’s soccer games on Saturday mornings rather than doing yard work. We can turn their seldom-used backyard into a quiet, beautiful oasis where the residents can gather as a family at day’s end or entertain friends on balmy Saturday evenings.

Emotion plays a huge role in most buying situations. What language do we use to discover (ignite?) these emotional needs?

Merely describing what we do as mowing, landscaping or snow plowing is generic and emotionless. We can do much better than that in our marketing material, on our websites or when we chat with clients and potential customers face-to-face.