Honoring Our Veterans – Beyond the Banners

Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Blog, Community Events, Veterans | 0 comments

Emporia is the Founding City of Veterans Day. Our community holds many activities throughout the year to help support and honor those who have served. In 2014, Emporia Main Street adopted the Veterans Banner Project, and initiative that helps raise funds for local Veterans Program as well as offering a new way to celebrate those who have and are currently serving. Four years later, there over 250 banners displayed in the heart of our community. This year, Emporia Main Street partnered with IM Design Group and KVOE to produce the Beyond the Banners Magazine, a keepsake for all of those featured in the Veterans Banner project. These magazines can be purchased for $10 at Beyond The Banners and proceeds will go to help Veterans in Emporia and the area. On October 20th and 21st there will be a special “Release Party” for the magazines at 727 Commercial Street. Info here:  Release Party. During the party, we will also be collecting items to send to our local soldiers who are currently deployed. We encourage people to donate local food and retail items to help remind the soldiers that their community stands with them during their time away. A list of approved items can be found HERE. For questions about the magazines or the care packages, please contact Emporia Main Street at 620-340-6430....

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Brand Based Businesses

Posted by on Oct 11, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Discussions with new entrepreneurs reflect the overwhelming number of decisions they must make as their business grows.  Businesses that have been open a few years have staff that often talk about how their business drifted from its original concept.  Well established businesses sometimes talk about stagnation and the inability to utilize resources the same way they did years ago.  Each phase of the business life cycle is full of decisions, and these decisions are often made through the lens of cash resources, available time/energy, competition, personal interests and other qualifying characteristics.  Where does the brand based business decision fall within the hierarchy of decision making processes? Most businesses, organizations, communities, states (frankly any entity) want to promote their “brand”.  In layman’s terms, a brand is that thing that makes the general consuming public think about you in a certain context.  The brand isn’t a simple tag line.  A brand is a feeling that people emote as they think about your business, entity or organization.  Great brands reinforce positive feelings about their brand, and differentiate themselves from perceived competitors.  Ineffective brands simply blend in to the background noise of other brands that swirl through the collective consumer consciousness. Businesses in the short term have to keep their doors open and their lights on, but in the long term a business cannot hope to succeed without an effective brand strategy.  The brand of a business must be included in decision making processes to allow for sustainability of the business (and the brand).  The following are five questions pertaining to brand that you should ask yourself as you make business decisions: 1.  How does your course of action make you different in a meaningful way?  All businesses are different is some way.  Your name, location, color scheme, etc. are all different- but does that mean anything to your customer?  By coordinating your brand and your defining factors, you can appeal to your target group more effectively.  If your business decisions continue to reinforce your brand, your target market should grow as your differentiation separates you from competitors.  If your decisions run contrary to your brand, the resulting brand confusion often corresponds with a loss of market share.  For example, if a state touts the opportunities for youth within its boarders while simultaneously ignoring the things that are meaningful to that age range, you may see a population loss within a segment of the populace. 2.  How does your decision appeal to your target demographic while reinforcing your brand?  If you talk your customers, they often say they want cheaper products- but does that fit your brand?  Advertising is littered with retailers featuring “the biggest sale of the year”, until the following week...

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Back to School!

Posted by on Oct 6, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

The end of summer vacation is in sight, and people are preparing for the start of another school year.  Teachers and administrators are working hard preparing facilities and lesson plans.  Students are counting down the days of summer.  In any community, but particularly in a college town, “back to school” provides significant opportunities for businesses and organizations- IF you are prepared. Yes, people that are new to the community may wander in by chance, or they may become regular customers simply of their own volition, but a little strategy and training can improve your odds, traffic and sales.  Lets look at a few things you can do to improve your “back to school” boost. 1.  Grab “back to school” lists from area schools, and adjust your signage and displays accordingly.  As we would say in the office: “To the Google!”  Look up your local school supply pages; are there things on that page that you sell?  Can you produce signs and displays that make it easier for parents to pick up those items?  A little extra attention to marketing can drive people to your door and improve impulse buys. 2.  Set donation boxes for class supplies and other related items for students and teachers.– Classroom supplies can be a tough expenditure for some.  Creating donation boxes that correspond with area lists for students and teachers can provide an opportunity for your business to give back, generate more sales, improve marketing opportunities and increase foot traffic. 3.  Remember that back to school isn’t just about kids.  Teachers and administrators are back to school now, and they may need supplies, a wardrobe update, new tech or a variety of other . things that your business could supply.  Each year we also see a new group of parents that put their youngest child into the school system for the first time, and these parents may be a good source of part time (or full time) employees (if they stayed home with kids).  Even if your business isn’t kid related, you could have an opportunity to market to school employees if you adapt your approach.  For example, food merchants have made a lot of money over the years targeting parents or grandparents of college students with prepaid “care packages” that can be delivered throughout the academic year (particularly at finals time).  Students may be the ones (hopefully) attending classes, but they often have a support system of potential buyers you may identify as a target market. 4.  Target and reinforce your marketing.  So, how do you reach out to the people you are marketing to?  Many businesses make the mistake of simply using one mechanism, and an oversimplified marketing campaign lacks the repetition...

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Thank you to our Members and Volunteers

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Emporia Main Street celebrates the passing of each membership year with our Annual Meeting. The meeting highlights the accomplishments of the past year, sets goals for the following year and recognize the volunteers and businesses that stood out. We sincerely appreciate the contributions of our members and volunteers as we continue to build a more vibrant community. Below are some highlights from the meeting: Advocate of the year: We often joke with Becky Smith that her best attribute is: “you never have to wonder what she is thinking”. That genuinely honest attitude comes across as Becky communicates to a variety of individuals that shop her business. Becky created an internal “cool things you can do in Emporia” list that she hands out to the many out-of-town shoppers that visit her business, she highlights community activities at Twin Rivers events, she sits on two Main Street committees (Design and Promotion), she helps coordinate the Veterans Banner activities, and she still finds the time to tell the Executive Director of Main Street exactly what he’s doing wrong on a weekly basis… Becky is an invaluable resource to the entire region that people look to for information on a variety of topics, and her advocacy for the Main Street organization, Main Street ideals and other Main Street businesses have helped contribute to this wonderful community. It’s rare in the world of advocacy that the advocate is also such an active participant in engaging others cooperatively to make changes, but Becky Smith is that and more. The 2017 Advocate of the Year- Becky Smith. Volunteer of the year: Scott Oliver provides the Main Street office with critical human resources for a variety of our events and initiatives. Many of you have probably received a phone call from Scott, or a mailer that he put together for the office. As a Main Street staff of two, with some wonderful interns filling in, we have very limited time for some communication activities that are vital to event and organizational success. Scott balances his job as a very talented piano tuner, family time, and community participation with critical volunteer work. We’ve seen the positive results of Scott’s assistance, and staff is constantly talking about new ways to get Scott involved. We are so very thankful to have Scott as an Emporia Main Street volunteer, and it’s always a little surreal when Scott thanks us for the opportunity to help. ALL OF US can do something to help our community prosper, and the world would be a better place with more willing volunteers focused on how they could help others, like Scott Oliver. Your 2017 volunteer of the year- Scott Oliver! Business of the year: One of...

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Summer is Here! What can this mean for your business?

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

For many of us Summer time brings a sense of a time to relax, kids at home, endless tubes of sunscreen, road trips, crunchy hair from too much pool time, popsicles, baseball and watermelon, fireworks. The list can go on and on. For Emporians, we are lucky to add special memories and experiences like Live in the Lot, the Sertoma Train at Soden’s Grove, trips to the David Traylor Zoo, Brown Bag Concerts at the Library, and an endless list that makes Emporia such a cool place. As we find ourselves in the middle of summer (can you believe it?) there is still time to capitalize on the season and take some action to positively effect your business. 1.  Focus on summer travelers. Emporia is a destination. Every year, we see more and more folks coming into our community for their vacation. As a business, you have the opportunity to turn these visits into sales. Remember that uniqueness sells, and you need to get onto the visitor’s “itinerary”. Find out what group you want to target. Is it families coming for a youth sporting event? Is it individuals coming to play one (or several) of our nationally known disc golf  courses? Is it a group of cyclists coming to tackle our internationally known gravel courses?  Social Media offers a variety of platforms and budgets to market to these different interests groups. Look for keywords and specific locations when setting up your campaign. 2. Focus on Staycationers.  Staycations are very popular for folks who just want to rest and relax in their own homes. These “vacations” offer a time for individuals to work on projects they have been putting off or a time for them to try something new. Summer projects can be anything from planting a new garden to painting grandma’s old china cabinet. Finding ways to educate consumers on how to be successful with their projects is a great way to build customer loyalty and your brand. Think about offering a class on how to re-purpose a piece of furniture or be a successful gardener. Staycations are also a great time for art or yoga classes! 2.  Kids are home, welcome them in.  School’s out for Summer! This can mean a variety of situations based on family dynamics and professions. Some kiddos get to hang with their parents during these months. Offering “kids” specials that encourage parents or care providers into your place of business is a good way to increase traffic. Think about specials that still encourage a purchase(s). It doesn’t necessarily need to be a “kids eat free” type of promo, but maybe a deeper discount than normal. During lunch get (insert percentage here) off a child’s meal when an adult...

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Why Your Support Matters

Posted by on Sep 28, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

The concept of “joining” means vastly different things to different generations.  The Baby Boomer generation had committee upon committee, and social organization upon social organization that created a fairly hierarchical community approach. Members of Generation X typically hate meetings, and they prefer the more organic approach of coming together to achieve something specific and actionable.  The Millennial Generation is still carving out their niche where “joining” is concerned, but their grasp of technology when coupled with individualism makes for a unique membership culture.  All three of these generations constitute the fabric of the current business and social culture of the region, with another membership close behind.  The question “why join?” may mean different things to different generations, groups or interests, but there are some similarities in answers when relating to Main Street. We can talk about individual services that uniquely apply to individual organizations, but those services are as diverse as our membership.  The following are some general reasons why your support of Emporia Main Street makes sense: 1.  We assist in creating the unique elements that Emporia is known for.  If you talk to people in the region (or former residents) about what Emporia was known for twenty years ago, you will find a vastly different community concept.  Within the newer brand identity of Emporia, you will find Emporia Main Street at the core.  We aren’t talking about a “we probably had something to do with it” – Emporia Main Street funded businesses, created new funding/educational opportunities, started community related event expansions, sent information to media, created new programs for existing holidays and made physical community changes that have resulted in those “uniquely Emporian” attributes that others can identify as defining brand characteristics.  We continue to press the establishment of defining elements every day through our diverse program of work. 2.  We aren’t afraid to tackle tough (occasionally controversial) issues for the good of the region.  Things like the Community Initiated Development Plan (CID), the Veterans Banner Project, the Historic District, infill developments, street based beer gardens, zero interest loans, temporary event based street closures, tax credit sales, upper story housing and many other initiatives were controversial when Main Street began pushing the concepts.  These things have been, on balance, very good for the community.  Staying neutral on everything, regardless of the good or harm that it can do a community, is a surefire way to create community regression.  We certainly don’t look for controversy, but we aren’t afraid to push for initiatives that move our region forward. 3.  The financing options we have created help businesses start and grow (and that’s good for the region).  Emporia Main Street has now loaned out over $1,000,000 in zero interest...

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