What do smart businesses do when a conference comes to town? Use signs, printed or online, to lead the way to all the right places when there are so many options, yet so little time. Three days, over 42 sessions, tours, activities and hundreds of attendees, all from interesting places and fabulous main street organizations, prowled around downtown Ellensburg finding treasures and treats.
Last week, I spent 3 quality days in Ellensburg, WA for the annual Main Street conference where volunteer leaders, association members, main street staff and professionals come together to learn and celebrate accomplishments of Washington’s downtown associations. Called Revitalize WA, this annual conference provides skills training, organizing tips, access to resources and opportunities to make new friends also immersed in the esteemed work of making downtowns great again. The value in making new connections cannot be overstated in my world, but as always, I gleaned some inspiring ideas that I will share with BAM clients and here on the BAM Blog!
I couldn’t help notice the Ellensburg businesses who participated in the conference who welcomed conference attendees into their stores. I found these places while on my way to a workshop or on session breaks.
Entry door signs, coupon promotions and window displays really worked to draw customers inside. My friend, Seanette Corkill, owner of Front Door Back, would coach operators the value in hanging signs (not taping to windows), but either way, they did more to pull me into their signs.
Some retail business owners offered discounts, naturally giving me the incentive to increase their economic vitality. Lunch at the Fire & Smoke Restaurant Catering was worth the time spent trying to find it, just a little off Main Street, but the flyer included in our conference packet led me right to it. Their authentic southern BB`Q filled my heart and stomach, Signs lead conference attendees to the places you want them to go.
Other great finds were spotted along the Bike Tour which took us through Central Washington University and on the Young Preservationists Pub Crawl; Starlight Lounge, Iron Horse Brewery and The Tav, offering late night pool for those hearty youngsters still “networking.”
The Dakota Cafe and Galley One Visual Arts Center were integral to the Conference by offering workshop sessions, book author signings and hosting events. Fitterer’s Furniture invited us in with welcome signs on their sidewalk A-boards and along the stairwell to the 3rd floor. This was especially a nice workshop venue after lunch with reeling lazy-boy chairs and comfy furniture. Conference speakers had to stay lively to keep our attention but it engendered generous amount of goodwill for Fitterer’s Furniture business! Again the signs on the street and in conference programs made sure we wouldn’t miss this stop.
Other terrific businesses I encountered at the Revitalize WA conference were: Buffalove Development, Rogue Boutique, Apple Catha Massage Therapy, Rory Turner, Commercial Real Estate Services and our hosts from Ellensburg Downtown Association, WA Main Street and partners Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Street Fair Guide for Community and Profit Guidebook Templates include easy to use documents and references that coach small businesses on how to market to fair attendees. Some marketing tips can be found here: