We have just made it through DDO week, which is the first “major” event held in Emporia since October of 2019. We shook some rust off, greeted guests, and promoted some business activity. But it was obvious that some things have changed since the pandemic took hold. Let’s talk through some ways that you can help with upcoming activities to continue getting our area back on track.
- Be aware of what is going on, and communicate with your staff.– Activities and events are all over the local news, on social media, in hand outs, on flyers, communicated through the sound system, and embedded in newsletters like this one. It’s important that your staff knows what’s going on. When in town folks ask “what’s going on,” it’s good to have an accurate answer. When out of town folks associated with an event come into town, your staff probably won’t welcome folks properly if they don’t know an event is occurring.
- Don’t assume people know about your business.– It’s disheartening when people fall in love with your business on the very last day of a four day trip. When you know what is going on, you can work with event organizers and Emporia Main Street to find mutually beneficial ways to get the word out about your business. Getting involved can increase foot traffic and sales, and out of town dollars are bonus sales for your business! Be clear about what your business is, where you are, and why you are important to the clientele coming to town.
- Find ways to welcome folks.- Window decorations, marquees, sidewalk chalk, yard signs, or other visible “welcome” markers do wonders when people are coming to town. Visible efforts at your business or home makes people feel welcome and encourages return visits. When you are out and about and you see people who are obviously here for an event, thank them for coming and ask if they are finding everything okay. Make sure to highlight unique local businesses and amenities to keep people coming back and keep dollars local!
- Get involved.– Volunteer! Large scale events are extremely labor intensive. Your help can ensure that we are able to maintain and grow events to generate larger positive outcomes for the community. Community growth is the responsibility of every citizen, and volunteering is one of the best ways to ensure growth.
- Get others involved.– Once you set the example by volunteering, encourage others to do the same. Some volunteer activities are great for families. You can get your work, church, school classes, clubs, or other social organizations involved. Volunteering as a family highlights the importance of civic duty to your kids. Volunteering as a group can improve visibility and access to your business, club, or social organization. For some larger groups that are willing to take on larger event tasks, you could engage volunteerism as a fundraiser by accepting fees in exchange for quality work.
- Set an example.– Whenever people come to Emporia, we have the opportunity to sell our community. A positive interaction in Emporia could result in a new resident, a new business, or that all important “word of mouth” advertising. Setting a good example for others in the community can emphasize our welcoming nature and highlight the best our community has to offer.
- Be a community advocate.– Talk about local businesses, send people to amenities like our zoo, highlight job opportunities, and emphasize the livability of our community. There are people looking to escape metro areas, and highlighting a town with broadband internet that contains their niche interests may help grow our area.
- Pass along information to Emporia Main Street.- If people have specific thoughts, questions, or concerns, it’s good to pass those along to Emporia Main Street. We can’t always address their specific concern (we have no control over the Kansas weather), but we can certainly add information to meetings as we improve future events.
- Invite people back.– This is critically important and often forgotten. If people have a great time, we need to invite them to return to our community. If you are a business that collects information from visitors, a short email thanking people for coming to Emporia and inviting them to return is important. For community members, letting visitors know that you would love to see them at the next event is an effective way to build repeat visitors.