They count in college football. They count in the Olympics. They count in politics. They also count when selling products and services. Style points matter for anything that's intended to be out of the ordinary...and they have tremendous value. Who's coffee has more style points...Starbucks or McDonalds? Which notebook computer has more...Macbook Air or Inspiron? Which car...Mini Cooper or Monte Carlo? Which greeting card...hand drawn with crayons or Hallmark?
Some style costs a lot...physical design, technical advances, comfort, etc. Some doesn't...a smile, music, eye contact and saying thank you. Interestingly, when we think about improving style, we often focus on the more expensive, physical part. We work on making it look, taste or feel better...making it work faster...making nicer looking packaging. It's a shame we don't put equal time into the intangibles, the delivery and the relationship.
Style points separate you. They move you away from average, from sameness...and in the process make price less of an issue. It's not a matter of cheap or expensive, it's a matter of caring how people feel and showing it through careful design and delivery. Style points give you something real to brag about, and they give your audience a story to tell.
Most of the airlines don't get any style points...Southwest is an exception. Same planes, same airspace, same weather problems. But, more smiles and lightheartedness.
Most car dealerships get negative style points...Carmax seems to defy the odds. Same cars, but a different sales approach and a different system.
One of the smartest things you can do to improve your chances against the competition is to add style to what you're doing. Yes, look at the what...the physical elements. But, don't get bogged down there. Spend more time on the how...the delivery and the relationship...how you're answering the phone, the words in your thank you letters, how you handle complaints or unusual requests, etc.
How you do something is more important than what you do...and more and more, it's what people pay for. Style matters...a lot.