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Fall Forward -Approaches for Businesses to Adjust to the Change of Season.

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | September 16, 2022

I know that fall doesn’t officially arrive until September 22nd, but now is the time to shift your business thinking from summer to autumn. The change in consumer behavior is noticeable between summer and fall, and there are some strategies that have been difficult to employ over the past couple of years that businesses need to consider. Some things to think about:

  1. Temperature changes means more outdoor space utilization, pedestrian oriented traffic, and lingering.- Winter and summer can be tough on pedestrians and window shopping. People don’t want to linger in a deep freeze or a blast furnace. Fall and spring can be a little more temperate. If you have outdoor spaces that can accommodate customers, now is the time to market them and spruce them up.
  2. Planning around events can be useful to your business.- Understanding that ESU has a home football game, knowing that a conference is downtown, or keeping up with local event schedules can help you welcome potential customers, decorate your windows, or adjust specials. Your business is not an island. Taking advantage of local happenings is an important business strategy. Communicating local happenings to your staff is critical to effective execution of your strategy.
  3. Framing your doorway and emphasizing windows is important.- Some mums or other flowers in pots on either side of your doorway is an effective way to draw consumer’s eyes to your entrance. As it starts to get darker earlier, lighting and decorating your windows becomes a SUPER IMPORTANT form of advertising to people out and about (even after closing time).
  4. Create consumer routines.- Every business is in search of new customers, but your most effective strategy to increase sales is often increasing the frequency of use within your existing customer base. Instead of just selling coffee, encourage a Thursday night book club at your coffee shop. Push your bar as the premier NFL watch party destination or Friday after work hangout. Tie your clothing or accessory store to all the upcoming activities (your perfect place for _____ apparel). Emphasize gifts for the upcoming holiday season. Highlight your restaurant as the pre (or post) concert stop. Context can grow sales. 
  5. Open houses and consumer appreciation events are back!- For the last couple of years, the concept of a special shopping event was tough. We are at the point where a special activity to say “thanks” to your best shoppers (and their friends) is a good idea. Planning special activities that cater to your top 30% is an efficient way to boost sales in a short time period and improve loyalty. Collect your customer information and plan activities that speak to them.
  6. Holiday’s will take on special significance.-  Holidays have typically included smaller groups over the past couple of years. Each 4th Quarter holiday this year may make up for some lost time or help usher in new traditions. We expect more families out trick or treating, more people attending a family Thanksgiving (including an estimated 4% jump in first time hosts) and larger family gatherings may occur for Christmas. The point is that savvy businesses can adjust their marketing and product mixes to take advantage of these holiday based behaviors.
  7. Improve your socialization and involvement.- This one is tough. People model behaviors that they see from local business leaders. Want people to shop local? You have to shop local. Want more stuff to get done locally through volunteerism? You have to volunteer. Want more consumer traffic? You have to get social. I know some of you have been introverted for two years, but you have to set the example you want people to follow.

Fall is a critical entry point to an especially important 4th quarter for many locally owned businesses. Make some of the adjustments above and start building more consistent traffic and spending as you grow through 2022.

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.