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Advertisement Inviting curb appeal means business in Uptown area
by DJ Kauffman Correspondent · June 15th, 2017


Before a company can offer customers their products and services, it must first get them to open the door and come inside. This is why great curb appeal is so important, said former Coffee Smith's owner and SCORE Mentor Julie Lammers at the Uptown [Coffees] event held on Thursday, June 8, at 8:30 a.m.

Inviting curb appeal means more business because it is a customer's "first hello," Lammers said while showing slide examples in the 800 11th Street Hills Bank and Trust Company's conference room. During the "Easy Ways To Attract Customers" presentation, she shared several strategic ways to attract those driving and walking by.

According to Lammers, a store owner should think about the overall look and demographics of their site when deciding on an intriguing design style. For this, she suggests a compelling, bold and simple asymmetrical feel reflecting what is inside; while consistently using the same colors, fonts and logo from curb to website. "Curb appeal is just as important as a business' Facebook page," she said.

Lammers explained how display windows should promote a clear message to potential customers. As an example of a poorly designed storefront, she showed a slide of a confusing hodgepodge of clothing items hanging above a small sign promoting dollar bottles of water.

She also said seasonal displays may help promote customer awareness. As an example, she showed a storefront with fake icicles hanging in the window. She said as nice as it may look, the decor should be quickly removed at the season's end.

Lammers also explained if a company's name is too high above the sidewalk for customers to easily see, then the owner should consider adding their business name (and hours) at eye level as well.

In addition, details, such as clean windows and sills tell a story; and hard to open and close doors leave a lasting impression, she said. The owners/staff should clean any dust or dirt in doorways daily and attend to greenery and flowers as needed. Weeds should be removed and the yard always be well kept, she said.

Store owners should also empty trash receptacles and sweep up cigarette butts on a regular basis. "Cigarette butts are the most littered item today," she said.

Lammers said placing a sandwich sign near an entrance, helps customers know when the business is OPEN and if there are any daily specials offered.

She suggested using large lettered signage to draw them in. The owner could use either chalk board or changeable reprints to promote events as well. Marion requires signs to be placed out of pedestrian walkways and to only be displayed during business hours, some said.

 Lighting during evening hours, even if closed, is also very important, Lammers said. It was noted at the meeting, rooftop lighting outlining buildings may be considered in Uptown Marion.

Throughout the year, Marion hosts several events promoting the Uptown business district, including the Swamp Fox Festival, Chocolate Walk, and Peppermint Walk. Mike Pederson from Tomaso's Pizza said he is in favor of a food court approach in Uptown, but is against vendors selling food during park events. He also said mothers want coupons no matter how perfect their pizza is.

During the Uptown discussion, Lammers talked about The Power of Ten. She said a business should create a desire by settling in a location surrounded by at least ten other entities, like libraries and museums, to attract customers and create foot traffic.

Uptown [Coffees] will continue throughout the year. It "combines the Uptown workshops and coffees in a hybrid format. 15 minute presentations will be given on the front end on an Uptown relevant topic followed by networking and conversations. This event is hosted by Hills Bank Uptown the second Thursday of every month from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.," said Brooke Prouty, Director of Uptown Marion.

The upcoming events are July 13 featuring Mark Meyer with Go Cedar Rapids; August 10 with Christa Nelson - Social Media; September 14 with Marion Chamber of Commerce President Jill Ackerman; and October 19, November 9, and December 14 speakers to be determined.
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