6 proven local email marketing ideas for small businesses

From Vertical Response – A DeLuxe Company. Questions? larry@larrylitwin.com

Email is often underutilized by small, local businesses despite the fact that it boasts a whopping 122 percent ROI — more than four times that of social media and direct mail. Whether you own or operate an auto repair shop, landscaping business, tax preparation service or other local business, here’s how you can leverage the power of email to win new customers and keep them coming back.

Local email marketing ideas

Email marketing should promote your business, but your email strategy should also feature value-added content that motivates opens, influences clicks, fosters trust and ultimately earns sales. Try these proven email marketing strategies for local businesses.

1. Create an editorial calendar around events, holidays and local happenings

A local focus will endear your business to local customers, so map out an editorial calendar based on the holidays, events and other local happenings important to your audience. Ideas include:

  • Promotions for community holiday shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday, for example.
  • Special offers for annual events: Consider homecoming dances, community festivals, parades and historical anniversaries.
  • Interesting historical facts about your city: These can segue to the importance of shopping at downtown businesses.
  • Seasonal offers relevant to your local audience: For instance, people in northeast communities need to weather the winter cold, while those in southwest communities need to beat the summer heat.
  • Promotions tied to local athletics: A restaurant can offer a pre-game special while a spa might offer a discount based on the number of points scored by the local football team.
  • Local gift guides: Considerpromoting top-selling holiday gifts in your local area or the most-wanted Christmas gifts based on local feedback — a great way to drive business to local retailers.

Want more great ideas for building an editorial calendar around local happenings? Watch Season 4 of Small Business Revolution, where our Deluxe colleagues help Searcy, Arkansas-based creperie and coffee shop Savor + Sip harness the power of local email marketing.

2. Craft valuable newsletters

The best email newsletters are packed with valuable tips and tricks your audience can use to solve their problems, achieve their goals and improve their lives. Your newsletter lends authority to your business, establishes solidarity with your audience and fosters long-term customer loyalty. Ideas include:

  • How-to tips with a local focus: For example, a beauty salon might feature tips about how to maintain skin health in cold, dry climates or a landscaper might send a tip about the best local source for garden soil.
  • Localized guides: Anyone can send a guide to landscaping a home, but only a local landscaper knows which plants grow best in your community. What unique local insights can you share with your audience?
  • Important local announcements: Is the city utility rate going up? A local hardware store might offer energy-saving tips to keep costs low. Keep abreast of local news and identify relevant tie-ins that educate and help your customers as well as naturally promote your business.

There are plenty of great email newsletter topics. Pick one, then apply a local focus to give your business a competitive advantage customers will love.

3. Promote a rewards/loyalty program

Many local businesses offer rewards/loyalty programs, and email is a fantastic way to boost enrollment. Use email marketing to:

  • Create excitement for your program and detail the benefits of signing up.
  • Ask existing customers to send referrals your way in return for a special discount or reward.
  • Send customers gifts on special days, such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and more.

You can also send reminders for customers to check their rewards account balances online and to share your program with their friends and family members on social media so they can reap the rewards, too.

4. Create customer spotlights and case studies

The proof is in the pudding, and you can use email marketing to show your audience how you’ve helped local customers just like them. It’s a great way to prove you understand their needs and can deliver solutions. Ideas include:

  • Customer spotlights and testimonials
  • Case studies that detail exactly how you solved a common local problem
  • Before and after photos for a visual experience that highlights your capabilities

Customer spotlights, case studies and photos help you show off what you know, which motivates customer responses.

5. Gain customer insights

Polls and surveys can help you learn more about your local audience, which can, in turn, inform future email marketing and boost ROI. Try these ideas:

  • Send a poll or survey to get customer feedback on local trends
  • Report the results in a follow-up email. Local residents will no doubt find them interesting, and it presents a perfect opportunity to promote a relevant product or service
  • Share the results with your local newspapers, radio stations, television stations, popular bloggers and other media members — a fantastic way to get free PR

Your polls and surveys can ask about customer behavior, favorite products and trends, or even get opinions about local hot button issues. Start by determining which questions you want to answer and if those insights will have local appeal — and if there is a natural segue to your business. If so, you have a winning poll or survey idea. (By the way, VerticalResponse makes surveying customers quick and easy.)

6. Send special offers

Email marketing is an easy way to send special offers to your subscribers. You can:

  • Send promotional emails with a single, time-limited discount to motivate quick sales
  • Include a special offer at the end of every email newsletter
  • Subtly embed references to your products and services throughout your email content

Email is a great way to reach local customers with valuable content intertwined with timely, relevant promotions that drive local customers to your door.

How to get local subscribers

These are all great local email marketing ideas, but you can’t implement them without a subscriber list. The good news is building one won’t add a ton of work to your already busy schedule. In fact, you can automate nearly everything with email marketing tools. Here are ideas for building a local email subscriber list.

  • Automatically enroll customers, loyalty card members, callers and people who email or fill out your contact form into your list. Make sure cashiers know to collect email addresses during checkout
  • Invite Facebook and other social media followers to subscribe to your email newsletter. Sweeten the deal with an instant incentive
  • Add a form to your website, either in the sidebar, in the content or as a pop-up. Offer a discount incentive or go with a lead magnet to boost your subscription rate
  • Partner with other local businesses to create a community deals email list, or share subscribers with one another (just make sure they know they’re signing up for a community-wide list that will deliver great content and offers from multiple businesses)

Check out more great ideas for building an email list.

Advanced local email marketing tips

Once you get your feet wet, you can take advantage of these advanced strategies to get more out of your email marketing.

  • A/B split testing: Test multiple versions of the same email to see which performs best. Then, send the winner to your entire list.
  • Segment lists: Most businesses have different types of customers. Segment your lists by interests or demographics to send the most relevant information and offers. Doing so can increase responses exponentially.
  • Automate email marketing: Create a series of emails designed to nurture leads over time, then send them on schedule with an email autoresponder program. Set it and forget it!
  • Measure response: Use email analytics to measure open rates and clicks. Identify which emails work best, then emulate those efforts for future campaigns so you can improve your email marketing over time.

Email is a powerful and affordable tool local small businesses can use to boost sales. Use these tips to connect with local customers, earn referrals, beat the competition and keep business coming through your door.

Questions? larry@larrylitwin.com

Job Network’s 3 old-school relevant interview rules

thejobnetwork’s Kate Lopeze offers these suggestions. Questions? larry@larrylitwin.com

It’s easy to see how job interviews have changed over time: more email, less formality, pre-interviews with chatbots, Skype interviews, etc. What’s not so easy is determining which interview principles are just as valid and necessary as ever, even as you prepare to job hunt in a modern world. Let’s look at some of the evergreen tips that are just as helpful now as they were when your parents and grandparents were interviewing for jobs.

Wear a suit or your interview best

Many workplaces are going full-on casual these days. All the same, this shouldn’t affect how you dress for the interview. Even if you’re 95% sure your interviewer will be wearing jeans and a hoodie, you should still plan to wear your interview suit—or at the very least, an above-average, impeccably clean and tailored outfit. If you get the job, there will be plenty of time to dress like your new colleagues. However, when you’re interviewing you still want to project the most professional and put-together image possible.

No one will think you’re a nerd for overdressing, I promise. But if you underdress, you run the risk of seeming unserious or unprepared. Better over than under, in this case.

Print your resume

This one may seem archaic—you likely emailed your resume to the company in the first place, so who needs paper copies? It’s still a good habit to keep. The old-school idea that you need to print your resume on the finest paper stock you can afford is no longer a must-do, but bringing copies shows you’re thoughtful and organized. Sure, the person interviewing you may be reading your resume on a screen or may already have their own printout, but if they don’t happen to have your resume right in front of them, it’s an immediate point in your favor that you came prepared. It’s also a subtle hint about the well-prepared employee you’d be—ready for everything.

This also applies if you’re doing an on-screen presentation. Always bring a few printouts (for every person you know will be there, plus a couple of extras just in case). Handouts help people follow along and also serve as a reminder all about you afterward as they’re evaluating how the interview/presentation went.

Send a thank-you note

Do you know what else never goes out of style? Polite thank you notes. (Your parents and grandparents were right about that, but you don’t have to tell them so.) An email or a follow-up text technically fits that bill in this fast-paced digital world, but sending a handwritten (or typed and hand-signed, since not all of us were blessed with great handwriting) note to your interviewers is an eternally classy move. Or you can do both if you’re worried about seeming like an ungrateful procrastinator: the quick email sent the same day, and the more traditional note following thereafter.

It’s a nice touch, and not only makes sure that you’re back on the interviewer’s radar after you’ve left the office but also shows that you’re thoughtful and appreciative of the opportunity—this doesn’t need to be a retroactive sales pitch. A brief, on-point note that thanks people for taking the time to talk to you is likely to get a response along the lines of, “I knew I liked that guy for a reason!” There’s literally no downside to following up with a simple thank you note.

The job interview has changed so much over the past decade alone, and will likely continue to shift as the workplace and hiring in general grow and evolve. Still, despite all the outward changes, the basics of good taste and solid organization never go out of fashion.

Questions? larry@larrylitwin.com

10 Principles of Authentic Communication

[larry@larrylitwin.com] and The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook for (all)Strategic Communicators by M. Larry Litwin. Visit www.larrylitwin.com

This is Play 2-4

•Truth

•Fundamentality

•Comprehensiveness

•Relevance

•Clarity

•Timeliness

•Consistency

•Accessibility

•Responsiveness to feedback

•Care

From BojinkaBishop–AssociateProfessor– Ohio University (Athens, Ohio)

[larry@larrylitwin.com]

Is YOUR personal brand doing well?

[To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com]  From Larry’s ABCs of Strategic Communication come the following:

  1. Google yourself regularly
  2. Do frequent social media sweeps

Tips to Succeed:Do you have a brand? – Evaluate your 5 Ps

Your brand consists of a complex set of characteristics and dynamics
that play out in thousands of scenarios each workday.
You can use your brand to positively influence your image to others
and enhance your career using these five Ps:
Persona – The emotional connection and reaction you elicit from
other people as a result of your personal style.
Product – The sum of your qualifications, experience, technical
and/or functional expertise, ideas and results you’ve delivered
over time.
Packaging – The presentation of your personal appearance, surroundings
and tangible results of projects and assignments on the
job.
Promotion – The way you inform your market about your value
and impact.
Permission – The sense of legitimacy, confidence and core belief
that you have important contributions to make.

Thank you to Susan Hodgkinson – The Leader’s Edge

To comment: larry@larrylitwin.com

11 Experts Predict the Future of Content Marketing in 2018

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From Inc.
 
Reaching the members of your audience through a content-cluttered landscape — and their ad blockers — will be harder than ever in 2018. Fortunately, there are new technologies and techniques that can help.

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10 ways to identify a fake job posting

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From the Dec. 10, 2017 issue of the Courier-Post comes this important advice from thejobnetwork.com:

BY PETER JONES

THEJOBNETWORK

The job market is hard enough to navigate without having to worry about a job posting that turns out to be a scam — or even just a dead end. Save your precious time and energy by being on the lookout for these simple signs that something just

isn’t right:

1. The company has no online presence.

You do your due diligence and try to verify the person, the company and the job listing and nothing is turning up in your online search. You can stop right there and step away. Legit jobs always have some sort of online trail.

2. The recruiter’s email doesn’t match their company.

You get an email from a recruiter who claims to represent a fabulous and well-known company. The company logo might even be at the bottom of the email. Look closely — does the email they want you to send materials to not end in the official company name (theircompany.com)? If the email associated with the posting or the invitation is a personal one (think Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), you might want to take a pass. And don’t respond and attach any personal documents unless you’re sure you’re dealing with the real deal.

3. You found it via a random social media post.

While it is possible to land a great job you found through social media, chances are if it’s just posted there — or sponsored or advertised — it’s probably not as sweet a deal as it seems.

Remember that the overwhelming majority of jobs are referral based, come through legitimate channels or are posted on vetted job boards. Resist the idea that you can just surf Facebook and get hired.

4. They claim “No experience necessary.”

Sure, maybe the job they’re offering is entry level. Maybe they offer training. But if the posting leads with “No Experience Necessary,” you can be almost certain there’s a catch you won’t like. Most employers want you to come equipped with some skills.

5. The language is sloppy.

If the ad isn’t well written, contains spelling or grammatical errors, is sloppily punctuated or IN ALL CAPS, consider it a red flag. A real job posting will be professional and polished.

6. They ask for an interview via chat or text.

You should be wary if your first interview is scheduled on some type of text messaging service. While remote interviews are becoming increasingly common, that means phone calls andSkype, not a typed conversation in a chat window.

7. Anything about it is too good to be true.

You’re hired immediately! The salary is crazy high! They contacted you out of the blue! When can you start? (Hint: If a job seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.) 8. Everything about it is vague.

If you can’t tell from the posting exactly what your role would be at the company, that’s a problem. A bigger problem is when you can’t really tell what the company does and get a sense of its mission or history. If all of this is very vague, leave this one in the “no” pile.

9. They want money.

If you’re asked to pay anything — such as a fee to apply or for a software program to send in your application materials — consider the job a scam. A general rule of thumb: Never give your money away to total strangers.

10. Your gut says no.

The bottom line: Keep an eye out for these and other warning signs, but your best alarm system is your own gut instinct. Does something seem off to you? If so, let it go. There are other jobs out there.

Peter Jones is a career advice journalist for TheJobNetwork.com, where this article was originally published. He investigates and writes about current strategies, tips and trending topics related to all stages of one’s career.

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Tips to Succeed: Marketing yourself online

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From Larry’s More ABCs of Strategic Communication (check it out on the website)…

1. Don’t lie – Whether on a resume, application or personal website, make sure facts about you are accurate.

2. Be professional – For college or job applications, use a simple e-mail address with your name or initials that helps connect an e-mail to you.

3. Censor yourself, and friends (if need be) – If you know a college or potential employer might Google® you or search you out on MySpace®, make sure the content posted by yourself or others is appropriate.

From the Des Moines Register

There are nearly 300 Tips and Techniques in both The ABCs and the newer More ABCs Proceeds from the books’ sales go to the Public Relations Student Society of America and Parsons (Iowa) College Alumni Association.

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A potpourri – From ‘USA Today’

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Some “USA Snapshots” from USA Today. It gets full credit.

  • 41 percent of Americans cannot tell the difference between secure and unsecured Wi-Fi, but still take questionable actions (Norton by Symantec survey of 1,002 consumer
  • One in 14 computer users fall for phishing — being tricked into following a link or opening an attachment (Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigation Report)
  • Lower pay, higher happiness: Almost half would be willing to take at least a 10 percent pay cut to work at a job they are more interested in and passionate about (Jobvite survey of 2,287 U.S. adults)

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AP Stylebook Updates: Singular ‘They’ Now Acceptable

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This blog comes from one of my all-time favorites, Grammar Girl:

Although the new print edition won’t be out until May 31, 2017, the Associated Press sent out an email update announcing that these changes are effective immediately.

By 

Mignon Fogarty, 

Grammar Girl

March 24, 2017

Every year, editors announce big stylebook changes at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) annual meeting. It’s where we first heard in 2011 that the Associated Press would no longer use a hyphen in email and in 2016 that the Associate Press would lowercase internet. Yesterday, the Chicago Manual of Style announced it would adopt these two styles as well, and now today, the AP is leading the charge again with these changes:

Gender-Related Entries

The presenters, Paula Froke (special liaison editor) and Colleen Newvine (product manager), saved the biggest news for last, but we’ll start with it here:

singular they: The AP Stylebook now allows writers to use they as a singular pronoun when rewriting the sentence as plural would be overly awkward or clumsy. Example: The Obama administration told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student’s gender identity isn’t what’s in their record.

The style also allows writers to pair they with everyone in similar situations.

In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person.

his, her. AP style used to be to use he when gender is not known. This entry now refers to the entry on theythemtheir.

homophobia, homophobic. Acceptable in broad references or in quotations to the concept of fear or hatred of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. In individual cases, be specific about observable actions; avoid descriptions or language that assumes motives. (The previous version of the Stylebook recommended against using these words.)

LGBT. LGBTQ. Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer. In quotations and the formal names of organizations and events, other forms such as LGBTQIA and other variations are also acceptable with the other letters explained.

gender. The editors began the presentation by unveiling a huge new entry on gender including new entries on cisgenderintersextransgender, and more.

Other Entries

autonomous vehicles. Do not use the term driverless unless there is no person on board who can take control in an emergency. They may be called self-driving cars. Describes cars or truck that can monitor the road and drive for an entire trip without intervention from a human. For vehicles that can do some but not all of the driving, such as some Tesla models, use the terms semi-autonomous or or partially self-driving.

baby bump. Avoid.

Columbus Day. Added Indigenous Peoples Day reference, plus a separate Indigenous Peoples Day entry: A holiday celebrating the original inhabitants of North America, observed instead of Columbus Day in some U.S. localities. Usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal Columbus Day holiday.

courtesy titles. In general, do not use courtesy titles except in direct quotations. When it is necessary to distinguish between two people who use the same last name, as in married couples or brothers and sisters, use the first and last name. The presenters gave the example that it would still be proper to refer to Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Obama if the courtesy title is needed for clarity.

cyberattack. One word. Often overused. A computer operation carried out over a device or network that causes physical damage or significant and wide-spread disruption. The presenters said they consulted with cybersecurity experts who felt strongly about the “physical damage or significant and wide-spread disruption” part.

Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program. Use the acronym DACA sparingly and only on second reference. Do not use DREAMers or dreamers to describe DACA recipients. These are separate programs and the DREAM Act never passed.

esports. As with frequent flyer, the AP consulted people in the esports industry before deciding the recommend spelling should be esports without a hyphen.

fact checks, fake news. Holding politicians and public figures accountable for their words often requires reporting or research to verify facts that affirm or disprove a statement, or that show a gray area. Fact-checking also is essential in debunking fabricated stories or parts of stories done as hoaxes, propaganda, jokes or for other reasons, often spread widely on the internet and mistaken as truth by some news consumers.

Fake news may be used in quotation marks or as shorthand for the modern phenomenon for deliberate falsehoods or fiction masked as news circulating on the internet.

However, do not label as fake news specific or individual news items that are disputed. If fake news is used in a quote, push for specifics about what is meant. Alternative wording includes false reportserroneous reportsunverified reports, questionable reportsdisputed reports and false reporting, depending on the context. 

flyer, flier. AP changed the spelling from frequent flier to flyer after reviewing airline industry websites and determining this was the spelling most commonly used in the industry. The audience seemed happy about this change. Flyer is also the spelling for paper handouts, but flier is still proper for the phrase take a flier, meaning to take a big risk.

incident. A minor event. Don’t use this word to minimize major happenings. Anything that causes death, injury, notable damage and the like is not an incident.

Oxford Comma (aka serial comma). The new Stylebook emphasizes that clarity is the bottom line. Although the normal style is to avoid the serial comma, use one if it is needed for clarity. This is not a style change, but a clarification because the editors noted that some writers were confused.

reform. Not a synonym for change.

virtual reality, augmented reality. Because virtual reality is quite widespread now, the Stylebook allows VR on the second reference. Augmented reality is still uncommon, so continue to spell it out instead of shortening it to AR.

More. In some cases, the presenters noted that there will be new entries, but they didn’t share the entire entries. Expect to see new information on these topics when the new AP Stylebook is released: immigration (they will bring immigration-related entries that were scattered throughout the book together into one entry), cliches, television sets (based on input from the technology editor), and Uber and Lyft.

Thank you to all the people at #ACES2017 who tweeted from the presentation and to ACES for livestreaming (one word!) the presentation.

The new print AP Stylebook will be available May 31, 2017. Note that the AP Stylebook is updated every year, but the Chicago Manual of Style is updated less often. The last Chicago update was in 2010.

 

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