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Taking Advantage of Connecting with Customers

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | October 20, 2016
As a small business owner, there are several ways to market to your existing and potential customer base. Conventional ways can be found through radio and on air promotions and with today’s technology the ways to promote your products and services seem almost daunting. In addition to subscribing to traditional tactics, business owners need to find ways to supplement their marketing plan with moves that focus on low-cost unconventional marketing strategies that can yield maximum results.  Alternative advertising styles rely heavily on alternative marketing strategies, high energy and imagination.  Taking the consumer by surprise, making an indelible impression and creating copious amounts of social buzz are all ways to heighten awareness about your business.


So what are some tactics that you can explore? Maybe it is going to social media to reach out to a group of potential customers or maybe it is participating in an event that brings customers to you. Whatever you choose, make sure to be able to deliver your message in a way that is consistent with who you are.


It is almost a given that businesses today use some form of social media. Our organization, Emporia Main Street, has been very active with our website and platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. However, after meeting with different groups on campus last month, it was apparent that we are not communicating with them on the social media channel they used most: Instagram. College students are often a group we find challenging to connect with, so we took action and created an Instagram account and have been posting regularly.


Having Social Media or Brand Ambassadors is another tactic that many businesses are using to increase their visibility on the web. According to Social Media Today92% of people around the world say they trust earned media (unsolicited rankings and recommendations that can be accessed by the general public in an unfettered environment), including recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Ambassadors can help raise awareness and digital relationships. Ambassadors are individuals who are passionate about your business and are often customers or employees. They share with their family and friends their experiences with your products and services and they may pass along your pictures and share your posts online.When choosing an ambassador for your business, define the image that specifically fits your needs so that you are searching for and selecting the right people. You also want to set realistic expectations of what you expect from your ambassadors so everyone is on the same page. That might mean they are sharing your statuses or pictures daily or they are creating their own post for your business. Remember that Social Media can spread like wild fire -so make sure you trust the person who will be posting and set parameters for content.


 Participating in unique events is also another way business owners can promote themselves. These events can help you stand out to specific groups of people, be a great way to get noticed, distinguish you from the competition, and earn you a reputation for being fun and different. Emporia Main Street offers several events throughout the year that might be right for your business to participate in.


How it’s Made Tour: This event is a great way to give a backstage pass to a group of engaged individuals. These tours typically take place every couple of months and there is no cost for you. Main Street coordinates with three to four businesses to bring on average a group of 20 people to your business after hours. These individuals get the opportunity to have one on one time with the business owner and see firsthand how your company makes a product.  In many cases, students attend these tours as part of a class or club. Traditionally many businesses struggle to connect with students, and events like this can help break down that barrier. Encourage visitors to share their experience with friends and inform them of any student discounts you offer.


Downtown Trick or Treat: This event, coming up on October 29th, brings hundreds of parents and children to downtown Emporia. As fourth quarter quickly approaches, this event is a great way to promote your business to consumers. While it might be easier to stand at your door to greet the crowds, the key to this event is to make sure to bring families into your store and engage with them. Do you sell youth related items? As you hand out candy to the little ones, get a coupon in the hands of the parent! Make your stop a place for parents to want to pose with their kids for a picture to post on social media or talk about with friends on why it was the coolest place on the map.


Quartermania: This event, held three times within the year, is a great way to connect with potential and current customers. Free to all Main Street members, this event, though low cost can be low cost, can generate lots of buzz about your business! This bingo meets auction experience creates an environment for you to have direct contact with consumers and create demand for your product.


Remember that marketing involves the application of multiple techniques and practices in order to establish direct contact with the customers and cause an emotional reaction in the clients. If you are interested in doing something new with social media or participating in one of these events, please feel free to contact the Emporia Main Street Office and we can schedule a time to discuss your ideas and see how we can help!

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.


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