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ICYMI: Great email tips for non-profits

July is here, so it is all hands on deck for the rest of 2017 for non-profit organizations. It’s time to finalize designs and themes for holiday- and end-of-year giving campaigns. Now is the time to make decisions about direct mail, advertising, and video promos.

Now is also a great time to add potential donors to your email list, and thoughtfully schedule when those messages will be delivered.

Scott Paley, co-founder and CEO of Abstract Edge, has some great advice for both activities.

The blog post, “An Easy Way to Build Your Email List,” is one that must be read in its entirety. Paley makes a clear distinction between adding addresses that might become here-today-and-gone-tomorrow prospects, and real leads that eventually become donors.

A second post from Paley might seem to fly in the face of common sense: Sending the same email to the same contact more than once.

Common sense screams that such repetition invites unsubscribes from your list, but Paley points out that, depending on the size of your list, just about every email you send will result in a few unsubscribes. By adding “ICYMI” or a similar tag to your original subject line, you are letting your contact know that the content you are sending is a re-run. It’s an exercise in integrity, and it lets the prospect know that you really consider the content important, and not something you are trying to “dress up” as something new.

I think this is well worth a try for your next email marketing campaign.

If you need some fresh ideas on communicating with your existing or potential donor base, give me a call. The initial consultation is free.

Follow Through Is Everything

Vintage shop buildings on West Chicago Avenue in West Town, a Chicago community on the West Side. Galeria Center and Samson Inc. City street. No people.

You formed a plan for Small Business Saturday. You rallied your fellow local merchants to join you and buy into the promotion. You’ve been spreading the news via social media and traditional advertising. It’s coming down to the wire.

Don’t forget the follow through.

Until now, it’s been about promotion, now it’s time to make sure you and your partners do what you’ve said you will do. The idea is that on Saturday you will be welcoming customers who have never been to your business before. Make sure theirs won’t be a one-time visit.

Get a fresh set of eyes. Ask a trusted friend or family member to walk through your business and give you an honest assessment of its cleanliness, accessibility and overall customer friendliness. Chances are there’s some de-cluttering and extra cleaning to be done.

Make sure employees are in the loop. Do all your employees, and that includes family/friends coming to help on the big day, know exactly which items are on sale or you want to push? Can they answer questions about refunds/returns? Can they give directions to other stores, parking, restrooms, restaurants? As the proprietor, you are going to be plenty busy on Saturday, you don’t want to get bogged down answering basic questions your own people should be able to answer.

Capture that data! If you’ve not done so already, there’s still time to decide on a giveaway that will enable you to get contact information from many of your customers. A basket/bowl for business cards and also a simple paper form and pens are all you need. Make it something good to entice customers. Partner with other merchants for a big-ticket item.

Doing snacks? Put someone in charge. Hot beverages and snacks likely are things you don’t offer most of the time, so make sure they aren’t forgotten by mid-morning. Select an employee to keep everything stocked and cleaned up. If you run out, then clear everything away ASAP rather than leave the mess out front for your customers to see.

Don’t wait to debrief.┬áMake your own list of things that went well and those that fell flat. Consult your employees/volunteers for their input. Then, make sure there’s a debriefing on the calendar with your partner merchants. If the shopping season is too busy for a 90-minute meeting until after the holidays, at least send out an email next Monday reminding your partners to make their own lists so those good insights aren’t lost.

Share news of your success. If you have a great story to tell, submit it by Jan. 11, 2016 for consideration in the 2016 National Small Business Week Awards. If you need help telling your story, let me know.

Mark Feb. 1, 2016 on your calendar. That’s when you will want to start planning for 2016’s National Small Business Week, May 1-7.