So far I’ve only talked about businesses having email lists, but let’s broaden that a bit. There are all sorts of other organizations which can benefit from getting the word out to their patrons.
In an earlier post, I noted even the U.S. government’s Small Business Administration has an email list. It’s part of their outreach efforts to help small businesses. Local governments can sure use them too: a heads up to businesses about a fraudster pulling a new scheme? Notice of schools closing for a snow day? Details about a street closure for emergency repairs? An email list can get the word out quickly, especially in smaller towns that only have weekly newspapers.
Non-profits can use better communications too. A theater group could send out messages about casting for the next play, then a notice when tickets go on sale. Once a play is over, the revenue lost to unsold seats can never be recovered, so how about an occasional “Bring a friend to tomorrow night’s performance for free, with a buy-one get-one special while seats are available!” message when sales are light? (See how that exposes the venue to potential new audience members, too?) It’s a good thing that when the need came, there was an email list to send to!
Animal welfare organizations might want to have a list for potential and/or active volunteers, so when there’s a big need — “We’re flooded with new puppies! We could really use some volunteers to take these dogs out for a walk Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Can you help?” — they can get extra hands in to take the load off the staff. And maybe some of those folks will walk a puppy all the way home, too.
That doesn’t mean you have to come up with some new “thing” to talk about every week: a once-a-month mailing might be more than sufficient to keep the communications channels open. But you have to have a list to do it.
And when folks do come to the theater, or shelter, or other event the non-profit holds? Then have a note in the program, or hand everyone a card, with information about your email list so those with interest know how to sign up. You don’t necessarily need a big budget to promote your list to your constituency, but they do need to know the option exists.
Think about how a mailing list could help non-profits you work with, not just your business.
Long gone are the days when people would dig through a phone book to find local organizations. You need a web site so people can find you when they’re looking for you, and an email list to reach out to them and stay in touch, keeping your organization active in their minds. Big ad campaigns for that big annual gala event just isn’t enough when you need to communicate year-round.