The devil is in the detail. So too is the profit. Every aspect of marketing demands you go into the detail to obtain the best results. The deeper you dig, the better your outcome.

Usually, you can’t actually be clear why this focus on detail works. You won’t know the precise point that delivered the result. Overall, though, you can be confident that attention to detail delivers tangible, bankable rewards.

Start with consistency of image. The business name and logo should appear the same every time you use it, from business card to delivery van. This is a principle of turning a name into a brand. If you’re careless about it, you waste opportunities to reinforce the core message.

I regularly see logos printed in different colours, on different background colours and using slightly different typefaces. Near enough is not good enough and that’s exactly the image that this shoddy application of corporate identity conveys. What is the point of having an identity if you’re not rigorous about its use? It tells the public that you’re inconsistent. You’re also wasting money, since you presumably paid someone to design the corporate identity.

Apply the same thinking to the specific messages you aim at customers. Whether you’re using press advertising, direct mail or signage, aim for the same underlying message.

Whatever your core selling virtue, be it price, quality, specialist skills or expertise, it should be stressed every time a customer sees the business name. I presume that message is in your advertising and mailers. What about the Yellow Pages ad? Your business card? The front of house sign? Or your invoices?

There is a temptation to bounce from one proposition to another when aiming at different markets. This has a marketing logic: one group of customers will buy a quality proposition, while others prefer price. Making the right offer to the right customer is good marketing, isn’t it? Yes, but following this route dilutes your effort.

Consider Volkswagen, which consistently pushes the principle that its cars are reliable and built with attention to detail. Its low-priced models have these virtues, too. Follow this approach; you can sell quality at different price levels, just as you can sell best price on high quality items.

Next comes accuracy. It isn’t just English teachers who find misspelling, non-existent punctuation and faulty syntax annoying. Printed material that isn’t spot on is going to grate on some customers. If you aren’t confident of the finer points of English, find someone who is and get him or her to proofread for you. This might be mildly embarrassing, but not half as bad as everyone telling you that your brochure had “excellence” spelt incorrectly all four times.

Some businesses don’t let this worry them, but it should. That is especially true in drycleaning where quality and accuracy are key components in your promise to a customer. If you can’t get something simple right, like the spelling on your posters, how then can the prospective customer trust you with complex needs?

What applies to public image applies also to working practices. If a customer smells solvent on her prized coat, you’re about to lose her business. Since this is a function of good machine maintenance, it’s a woeful error, which will affect everyone.

Treat your customers’ clothes with respect. Dumping a designer suit into a bin in front of its owner is not the service he’s looking for.

It also highlights the fact that their clothes are going to be cleaned with other people’s, a point that makes some customers feel uncomfortable.

When it comes to your store, you may be too close to the problem. Get a friend (or long-term customer) to pass a critical eye over your premises and you might be amazed at the flaws other people see. Try pretending you’re a customer visiting the premises for the first time. What do they see, hear and smell? If any of it is less than welcoming, remove it or improve it.

Start at the pavement. A window full of tatty, dog-eared, yellowing posters is a public announcement of sloppy practice. In any case, for posters to work, they should be changed regularly. This revitalises the window, increasing the likelihood of passers-by becoming customers.

Is the counter pristine clean and tidy? Always keep pens and markers, scissors, staplers and the like in a desk-tidy, where they can’t come in contact with those valued clothes. Nothing should stay on that counter for more than a few seconds after each customer visit.

Above all, keep food and drink away from the front of the store. You cannot guarantee that none of the contents of that can of Coke, that cup of tea, or those large fries will end up on madam’s Liberty curtains. Do not make any exceptions – I should add that business owners are often the worst culprits.

However, it isn’t just about the front of house. Although most reasonable people would not expect the “back office” where the cleaning and finishing is done to be perfect, you should at least aim either to tidy up what is visible and less than perfect, or to mask off the noise, smell and heat.

For those businesses offering a repair and alterations service a changing room will be necessary. Realistically, this is likely to be either the communal toilet or a storeroom. Visitors won’t expect the Ritz, but it should be presentable, tidy and well lit, preferably with a full-length mirror. Indeed, if this space is actually smart, it is a first class case of detail marketing – if your toilet or storeroom is fine, then the customer will trust the rest of the business operation to be likewise.

So far we’ve looked at righting marketing wrongs. Let’s now consider taking advantage of opportunities.

Smile, please, and not just for the camera, for the telephone. Every business in the western world is dependent to a large extent on the telephone. Simple changes to how you use it will do more for your sales than any other activity. You can implement them easily and they will cost you nothing.

Put a smile on your face and you put a smile in your voice. This basic fact is at the heart of good telephone usage. It tells a new customer instantly that yours is a pleasant organisation to deal with. The person answering should also give their name – this tells the caller that the company is friendly and open. It is especially true where anyone may pick up a call.

Having established that you are personable, next be professional. Ask callers for their name and put them through quickly. If the other party is busy the caller should be offered a call back. Don’t leave customers hanging on. A pen and pad should be next to every phone to ensure accurate messages. This may sound basic, but think how often you find these details ignored when you make calls. You can be sure that some of your incoming calls don’t receive the full treatment.

Take good service a degree further with a personal approach. Keep a golf brolly on hand so you can help drop-in customers to their cars in the dry.

A price list, especially related to time-sensitive opportunities such as Christmas, should leave the store with every customer and touches such as the brolly will bring people back to your store and drive your word-of-mouth advertising.

Cleanliness is next to godliness. This is critical for retailers. It doesn’t matter how good your skills are, if your premises aren’t spotless you will be devalued; people judge by appearances. Conversely, if your premises are smarter than your competitors’, you start each day with a valuable edge.

Constant vigilance and regular treatment are the only solution. Window cleaner and a can of emulsion are important tools of retail marketing – a dab of either can improve things on a weekly basis. Replace your cleaners unless they’re doing a grade one job. Look at the pavement, too. You may not be responsible for the mess there, but it will affect your sales, so give the council a constant hard time and buy a yard broom.

You and your staff should wear a uniform. Whether that’s an overall, a sweatshirt or a blazer, it distinguishes staff from customers and raises the smartness factor. It has the added benefit of turning you and your staff into walking billboards when you’re off the premises.

Are you on the map? Make sure your signage is clear, sharp and says what you do. There is nothing more annoying for a customer than being unable to find a shop easily. Equally, passers-by will soon realise they’ve got just what they want on the doorstep if your signage works properly.

Keep that sign up to date – an out of date telephone number, for instance, sends a poor message and can be patch-repaired. Finally, draw up a proper, accurate map to fax or mail to visitors.