In the world of consumer physical interaction with businesses, we talk about “passive” and “active” forms of interaction.  When a consumer is in “active” mode, they know the business that they are going to shop, they go directly to the business, and they conduct their transaction.  Consumers that engage in “passive” interactions are aware of businesses proximate to their area.  Converting a passive consumer to an active buyer is one of the most important things a core business can do to boost sales and profitability.
 
As spring approaches and the weather warms, it is critical for businesses to take an inventory of how they are interacting with their passive potential customers.  By following some basic strategies, you can create more “in store” traffic, while boosting sales and profitability.  Some things you might want to remember:
 
1.  Is your business type clear from your exterior?  I know WE know what your business is, but try and put yourself in a visitors shoes.  Is your business type clearly defined by your sign, your window display and any additional information on your building?  People like to know what they are walking into.
 
2.  Are you inviting people in?  Sandwich boards, sidewalk chalk and fun signage can be an easy and inexpensive way to invite people to come in.  Music and other sensory stimulation is a great way to entice people walking on the sidewalk to stop and take a shot on your business.
 
3.  Do you have a “hook”?  What are the products or experiences that a passerby simply can’t say “no” to that are inside your four walls?  How do you communicate that to people walking or biking by your business?
 
4.  Does your aesthetic match your target market?  If your target market is a home decor oriented audience, but your storefront and windows look disheveled, people will be hesitant to give you a try.  If your target market is men in their 40’s, and your window is covered in pink unicorns, you might not pull in your intended audience.
 
5.  Is your entrance evident?  Remember, this is for the passive consumer…  If people are walking past your place of business, and they walk past your doorway, it is harder to get them to turn around and come back.  “Frame” your doorway with tables, chairs, flowers or other items to clearly identify that consumers should “enter here.”
 
6.  Are you lit?  Gin is important, but I’m talking about lighting here…  As the weather gets warmer it is particularly important to light up your storefront because it acts like a billboard for all of the walkers and bikers traveling by your storefront.  Leaving the lights off of your display windows throws away a perfect advertising opportunity.  Your store windows are like billboards- throwing a dark sheet over a billboard would be like throwing away advertising dollars.
 
7.  Does your outside match your inside?  When people duck their head into your business, and then head right back out, that isn’t a great sign.  There are a lot of businesses that have wonderful interiors that aren’t reflected by their exterior, and there are a few businesses that have a great exterior, but their interior is “problematic.”  Raise the level of your aesthetic to make it consistent.
 
8.  Are there barriers to entry?  Amenities like bike racks can make it easier for people to decide to stop into your store.  If your storefront requires a step up (or a step down), can you invest in infrastructure that may allow people access to your business that have difficulty with a change in elevation?  Many business owners enter their storefront from the back door daily.  Take the opportunity to go through the front and experience your store like a consumer would.
 
9.  Can you “activate” your outdoor area?  Restaurants and bars have an opportunity to extend their seating via their front spaces.  You need to ensure that your licensing allows for the extension, but activating your front says to passersby “people like this place.”  Testimonials are one of the most powerful forms of advertising because people trust the opinions of others.  Activating your frontage with consumers is one of the best passive testimonials you can create.
 
A little extra attention to the items listed above can create a successful environment.  With some very large events coming up in downtown Emporia, your business has the opportunity to impress large numbers of new consumers.  Take some extra time and make sure you are inviting folks into your business!