Back to School

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

Tips to capture an important market! While at the Anderson Building dedication on Sunday, I ran into an area teacher that was speaking with a group of friends.  An individual in the group changed the direction of the conversation from the wonderful remodel of the building to the impending arrival of students for the new school year.  A look a terror washed over her face as she realized the school year is not that far away… From a business perspective, any season that encourages buying is an opportunity to garner sales IF businesses plan and market correctly.  Below are a few simple tips to capture the “back to school” crowd this year. 1.  Contextualize your windows – The science of spending is all about communicating simple concepts to a target market.  Understanding the needs of your clientele (back to school students) gives you the ability to create windows that address the needs of your target market.  If your target market sees something they need in the context of a purchase they were already planning to make, you can grab additional sales. 2.  Interior signage – Once people are in your business, do you have internal signage that reinforces the back to school message?  It is important to let consumers know what products or services will benefit their students with appropriate visual cues. 3.  Sales staff training-  Signs and displays will only go so far without appropriate staff training.  Talk with your staff about what people need for back to school items and why they need certain products or services.  If your staff can tailor their pitch to the specific needs of the customer, they will be more successful. 4.  Product/Services Grouping – Consider producing a special “back to school” display or area in your business that is designed to appeal to your target market.  Asserting your market presence with appropriate interior displays can encourage additional shopping. 5.  Traditional Advertising-  You need to get the word out.  People in the buying mode are more susceptible to traditional advertising because they need to understand where to go to get everything they need in a compressed time frame.  Radio, newspaper and television advertising can help reinforce your businesses ability to provide goods and services to the back to school shopping crowd. 6.  Interactive Communication – Social media, in particular, can add a “Q and A” component to product or service marketing.  Businesses can produce interactive blogs for their web sites and create specialty interaction for both parents and students to encourage a more immersive shopping environment.  Targeted social media advertising can help solidify your reach to the back to school market in your target time frame. 7. Partner with other stores – A singular business can’t generally carry everything...

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Survey Says!

Posted by on Jul 20, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

A spot survey conducted revealed your thoughts In an effort to stay more “in tune” with your wants and needs, Emporia Main Street Special Projects Coordinator Shane Wilson recently hit the streets to collect a randomized sample of responses to a very basic survey.  We weren’t asking businesses for anything except for some honest feedback.  Normally, we try to simply upload raw data from surveys to give the public a more unmitigated view of survey results (we still have the raw data if anyone wants it), but we are trying to disseminate information more via infographic to aid in its absorption. Here is what you had to say: Before we get into qualifying some of the survey sample results, we want to make sure everyone has a chance to share their voice. CLICK HERE to participate in our business feedback survey! Because so many of you responded with information about customer service, we want to give you the opportunity to CLICK HERE for our Secret Shopper form, that allows you to give anonymous feedback (positive or negative) of area businesses. The feedback we have received thus far as a “sample” is good.  We need to hear both the good and bad from membership and potential members so we can either adjust or at least explain our reasoning.  From a “we need to do a better job” department- it looks like we need to be more explicit in our descriptions of how businesses can get more visibly involved in community projects.  A project guide, with suggestions, more individualized communication, and additional focus group approaches to carve out niches for businesses that are easy to execute is in order. From a street closure standpoint, a lot of the feedback centered on businesses that wished larger events were centered in “their area”.  While we understand the desire, and we do our best to rotate when possible, we have to remind people of a few things.  First, we can’t close down 6th Avenue.  It’s a federal highway and takes an act of Congress to close, so activities are generally restricted on streets that have an easily accessible detour route in lower speed areas with a defined pedestrian accessibility.  Downtown fits those attributes nicely.  Secondly, we partner with other agencies, entities and businesses to execute some of the different large scale events, which sets a geographic location.  The Granada Theatre holds the liquor license for events like the Dirty Kanza and Cinco de Mayo, and thus, events take place in proximity to the Granada Theatre.  One of the major partners for the Welcome Back Block Party is Emporia State University, and thus the event is held adjacent to the university.  The Great American Market starts from a centralized point...

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Persistent Entrepreneur-ism

Posted by on Jul 7, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

A mindset for growth, diversified income and sustained success The Emporia Main Street newsletter often focuses on how to improve existing businesses, take advantage of business opportunities (market gaps) that exist, or new tools to aid your business.  We don’t spend enough time discussing how to think like an entrepreneur.  The entrepreneurial mindset is extremely important in a community of Emporia’s size and demographic configuration.  We are a bit of a “Goldilocks” community: just big enough to offer diversity in a variety of economic areas, but just small enough not to be dominated by large chains.  The problem (and opportunity) in a community like ours is that market gaps often have to be filled by individuals that start or expand a business to meet a market need or create a destination.  Entrepreneurs are a very special type of person with a specific mind set, skill set, inherent values, ethics and motivation.  Sufficed to say, not everyone is an entrepreneur. Reading this article, you may say “but Casey, we are already entrepreneurs…  why talk to us about the entrepreneurial mind set?”  Well, this newsletter is exposed to about 5,000 people on a weekly basis, and not everyone that reads it is currently an entrepreneur.  And, it’s good for current entrepreneurs to look at the mind set and determine how they can use their entrepreneurial tendencies to continue to adapt, take advantage of opportunities, mitigate risks, invest and evolve.  So, here are some key tenants to the entrepreneurial mind set: 1.  They care more about the results than the process – Most entrepreneurs absolutely cringe and an “eight step process”, excessive paperwork or anything that they deem “unnecessary”.  That doesn’t mean that entrepreneurs aren’t detail oriented; it simply means that entrepreneurs are extremely goal focused.  They generally find pleasure in blazing their own trail and resist any “paint by numbers” approach.  Most entrepreneurs have been involved in the endless “concept” meeting that comes up with some tag line, graphic or word smithed message, but doesn’t actually tangibly DO anything…  They resist processes that don’t create results like the plague because for an entrepreneur time equals money.  Waste their time and you’ve wasted their money. 2.  They aren’t afraid of hard work – Show me someone that dives into the world of entrepreneurship to work less, and I’ll show you an unsuccessful entrepreneur.  The world of small and growing businesses means early hours, late hours, weekend hours and more.  If “screw around time” is at the top of your wish list, you probably aren’t entrepreneur material.  Now the good news: with technology rapidly replacing ever more complex tasks, some estimate that half of our workforce in the next twenty years will be classified as an “entrepreneur”.  People will have to create their own job if...

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2015 Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting

Posted by on Jun 30, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

The Emporia Main Street Annual Meeting tends to emulate the organization itself.  We have a group  of super busy people that get together to honor productivity and offer thanks to those people making tangible improvements to the community, then we start working on making the future even better.  This year’s tribute to Steve Hanschu made the ceremony a little more emotional than most, but we had some fantastic volunteers, businesses, advocates and community members to honor. With a new year comes new changes for the Emporia Main Street organization.  Below, you can find the slate of new officers, a new board member, and all of those that were recognized at the Annual Meeting! Officers President – Justin Mallon Vice President – Julie Johnson Secretary – Denise Landwehr Treasurer – Mark McAnarney New Board Member Lauren Woolard Volunteer of the Year – Emporia Police Officer’s Benefit Association The Emporia Police Officer’s Benefit Association is a group of officers and their families that take the “serve” portion of “protect and serve” to heart.  We are absolutely blessed to have a community minded force that interacts with our citizens cordially at a variety of different events and community activities in an effort to strengthen the cooperative bonds between our officers and area citizens.  But, there is a lot of service provided that you don’t see.  Officers and their families help set up and break down beer garden fencing at the Glass Blown Open, the Dirty Kanza and other events.  They welcome ESU and FHTC students at the Welcome Back Block Party, they man a booth at Cinco de Mayo, they help coordinate the Great American Market.  I know the news has been a little rough on our men and women in blue nationally, but our Emporia Police Officer’s Benefit Association is the epitome of volunteerism and good citizenship. Advocate of the Year – Angie Baker Advocacy stems from an individual’s ability to communicate a passion for a concept in an honest and direct manner.  Angie Baker constantly talks about upcoming events with her customers, details the impact of programs like Incentives Without Walls that aided her business with the purchase of a coffee roaster and relays the impact of community activities to our office.  As someone that is both energetic and very direct, we can always count on good, actionable information from Angie.  Not only does she advocate for Main Street, but she advocates for the community, many causes and a growing “cool” culture that is gradually enveloping the city.  During her acceptance speech, Angie let a packed room know that Emporia has been her family’s home longer than any other in her married life, and her family loves it here.  She also stated that,...

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New Tech Tools

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

Some simple technology can improve your customer communications, recruit help and dress up your data! One of my favorite parts about the National Main Street conference is learning about all the new tools that other programs are using to increase the impacts of their programs and efficiency of their work plans.  Main Street’s nationwide are typically small staffs with “efficient” budgets that are working across the four point approach.  Whereas one organization might just do economic development, tourism, community development, design work, capacity building or development- Main Street programs are encourage to hybridize activities to include elements of disparate approaches into one cohesive strategy. Internally, directors refer to the job as a “Swiss Army Knife” approach. Multifaceted approaches are very difficult and time consuming, so whenever we run into some tech that makes our lives easier or creates a bigger impact for our organization, we typically employ the tech pretty quickly.  But, we want to ensure that our members have the same knowledge base to work from as they make their work environments more effective or efficient.  Below are just some of the tech tools that we found that you might see popping up in a Main Street setting fairly soon.  See if anything listed can help you out: 1.  Form Stack- I know a lot of people freaked out when Adobe announced that Adobe Forms were going away.  Fillable form systems on web sites make on-line interactions much easier and they cut down on staff time spent in a variety of scenarios.  A well functioning form system can help you interact with potential clients anytime day or night via your website. 2.  Volunteer Spot- This online volunteer system allows you to create slots for volunteers in a system that individual volunteers can control via a mobile app.  Create time slots for work, click on waivers and log volunteer hours through an on-line check in process.  Again, this is a staff time saver and it helps accompany pleas for volunteers with an easy call to action. 3.  Reg Online- Many businesses and non-profits supplement income with special events, but the registration process can be time consuming and laborious.  A quality on-line event registration software can expand your reach and make planning and execution of special events a little easier.  Some advantages of this registration system, which comes with customization logos and themes are the ability to  (1) make cerain elements of the registration process required, (2) pass the costs associated with the software on to the end user (which helps maintain profit margins), (3) allow for credit card use, (4) include cancellation fees for those that drop out of an event, and (5) take advantage of training webinars.. 4.  We Transfer Plus- We use dropbox at Emporia...

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Who Actually Owns The Road?

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Business Tips | 0 comments

Emporia Main Street recently conducted a survey on behalf of a local alternative transportation group.  I’m sure they will reference the results of the survey as they move forward with their future projects, but a brief overview of some survey responses (the responses were anonymous, so we don’t know who said what) revealed some interesting trends.  Several factions (drivers, bikers and pedestrians) noted an entitled sense to road ownership.  Drivers often pointed out that it was “hard to see” or “we’re bigger and others need to understand that”.  Some bicyclists noted the health benefits and tourism impact of a bicycle culture.  Many pedestrians cited their inherent right to feel safe as they walked or ran along their chosen path.  So, who is correct? Everyone is correct!  The road belongs to cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and more.  All users have rights to the road and responsibilities on the road.  Now, we could end the article right there, but this is Main Street and we like to take a historical look on the evolution of how we got to this transportation juncture and what the newest studies tell us about traffic interaction to add context to a discussion. Most roads in the area predate mechanized vehicles.  Older pictures of downtown Emporia show horses, buggies, trolleys and pedestrians together en masse as they moved about their daily lives in a dense urban environment.  The Roman Empire’s dominance was based, in part, on roads.  Horses and pedestrians were part of road traffic almost from the inception of the road concept, and wheeled vehicles soon followed.  The first verifiable modern bicycle in the United States was patented in 1818, with what most people would recognize as a “modern” design arriving in the 1880’s.  The first modern internal combustion engine car was patented in 1879, and the first running gasoline powered car was built in the United States in 1893.  Though, the first mass production of cars didn’t start until Oldsmobile started imparting the factory process on vehicle production in Lansing, Michigan in 1902. The advent of self-propelled vehicles introduced into an environment dominated by pedestrians, horses and horse drawn carriages was fairly chaotic.  When automobiles were introduced into community cores, significant speed restrictions were often imposed (under ten miles per hour), and cars were expected to navigate an area swarming with people and animals.  On the rare occasion that a driver hit a pedestrian and killed them, it generally wasn’t labeled an accident, and drivers were subject to manslaughter charges (if an angry mob didn’t get to them first.)  So, what changed?  How did we change from the swell of humanity in a central business district to an ordered and auto-centric style of transportation we...

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