This week is Small Business Week, and most downtown businesses in Washington and family-owned. Managing a small business is not as easy task as it may seem, and we are truly lucky to have such a thriving downtown area. Times change rapidly, and business owners should do the same. Downtown Washington Inc. makes sure that the local merchants have up to date websites and Facebook pages, and they try to keep them updated on all that’s new. Two weeks ago they brought a wonderful speaker to talk more about what downtown Washington retailers can do to stay on top of the new trends.
Meet Jim Thompson. He is a Business Improvement Specialist at Iowa Economic Development Authority Main Street Iowa. Jim gave a very informative talk on Monday, June 3rd at Marquart’s Landing. All downtown Business owners were invited to attend. I was there, too, taking notes and pictures.
The downtown merchants were eager to hear Jim speak.
Jim began his talk by saying that profit is not a dirty word. All businesses operate to make money to be able to sustain themselves, and in order to do so they need to be serious about their business and not to treat it like a hobby.
He announced that there is a new breed of consumer, who demands a new business model. And while businesses need to have a good Facebook presence, they also need to stay focused on the basics: quality customer service.
Consumers these days are more educated, and time is the new currency. People will remember you if you provide quality advice. Customers have higher expectations, and it is the job of the retailer to meet their needs.
Jim pointed out a new term: “Tryvertising”. Sampling of products attracts a different audience and age group and it’s getting more and more popular. Social Media is too big to fail, and every retailer should jump on board and cater to Generation Z. If you have a website, but it’s not mobile, it’s almost like you do not have one.
Online Promotions are growing, and many businesses take advantage of online chaking in, websites like Groupon and Living Social, and online shopping carts.
Yes, Social Media is still going strong. You might as well lose your fear and jump on board.
The best news is that the new trend is from big to small, and family owned businesses and downtown shops are enjoying a revival. Farmers’ Markets are becoming more and more popular as well.
As Jim put it, “If something is not working, change it.” The ultimate retail experience is the one where you create memories for your customers – whether it’s through the atmosphere of your shop, the products you offer, the samples you give away, the visual appeal of the interior and the exterior, or the friendly service.
Be proactive: options drive the market!
All downtown merchants seemed to enjoy Jim’s talk and everybody left with new ideas they can put into practice for their retail business.
I was delighted to meet these lovely people: (from left to right) Gayla Roter (Missouri Main Street Program), Jeanine Rann (Missouri Main Street Program), Norma Miess (National Main Street Center), our own Bridgette Epple from Downtown Washington Inc and Jim Thompson (Iowa Main Street ), the wonderful speaker.