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]

Have you crafted your Elevator Speech/Applicant Statement for your resume’?

[larry@larrylitwin.com] The following is just one of nearly 300 tips and tecniques from Litwin ABCs of Strategic Communication

The Applicant or Summary is similar to an elevator speech – A strategic message (about 30 seconds – 75 words) with two or three key message points – that can be delivered quickly – even during an elevator ride. 

The “elevator pitch”is a short description about your company that you can convey in the time it takes to ride an elevator.And not an elevator in a skyscraper,either.Your elevator pitch must be clear and concise and show that you understand the core aspects of your business. 
Because it must be short,you have to decide what facets of your company to leave out.Often,these can be the things you’re most excited about – a new technology,a great location,outstanding customer service,etc. 

But if they’re not central to the core or success of your business, they don’t belong in an elevator pitch. 

You should touch – very briefly – on the products or services you sell,what market you serve,and your competitive advantage. 
You must be brief and clear.Unless you’re in a highly technical field,your neighbor or grandmother should be able to understand your business well enough to describe it to someone else.After all, you want grandma marketing for you too,don’t you? People you meet need to quickly understand the nature of your business if you want them to send business your way.
Make sure your employees,investors,even vendors know your company’s elevator pitch.Have your employees practice your company’s elevator pitch so they’re able to network for you as well. 
It’s often a good idea to use an analogy,especially if you’re in a new or difficult-to-grasp field. “We’re the Google for car buyers”is a good shorthand way to say that you’re trying to create a search engine for people wanting to purchase an automobile. Think in these terms (sort of like a mission statement):
 • This is who we are; 

• What we think about ourselves;

 • What we want to do; 

• Why we deserve your support 

You’ll find you use your elevator pitch often – in e-mails to prospective customers and investors,to introduce yourself at organizational meetings or when running into an old friend at a ballgame.Who knows? You may even use it if you meet a potential customer in an elevator. 
So go out and find a three-story building with an elevator,ride up and down and practice your pitch.That way,you’ll be prepared the next time some one asks you,“What do you do?”

[larry@larrylitwin.com]

Voice of authority

[larry@larrylitwin.com]

That voice is deep and in command. people who have a deeper voice are perceived as having more authority.

Knowing this could lead to successful business calls. Check out www.youvegotcontacts.com.

  • Instead of straining your vocal cords, try standing up when talking on the phone. It changes your energy flow.
  • Shift your weight to one foot and your voice will drop one octave and sound richer and fuller.
  • If you are talking in person, remember to not cross your arms or legs. It decreases listening skills by 38 percent and makes the person you are meeting with feel blocked off.

[larry@larrylitwin.com]

Student Loans

[larry@larrylitwin.com]

44 percent of those with student loan debt are not aware that nonprofits offer free or low-cost counseling for borrowers. (Source: NeighborWorks America survey of 1,000 U.S. adults.)

[larry@larrylitwin.com

Some issues ‘older’ workers face in the job hunt

[For more information write to larry@larrylitwin.com]

Thank you to Kate Lopaze of thejobnetwork.com. Read the entire story at its website.

  • You’re overqualified
  • We need someone tech savvy in this role
  • WE are looking for someone who can grow in this role
  • We are looking for a specialist
  • We just don’t have any senior-level openings

[For more information write to larry@larrylitwin.com]