Arizona farmer shows wheatgrass at Gilbert Farmers Market

Arizona farmer shows wheatgrass at Gilbert Farmers Market

Last weekend I went to the Gilbert Farmers Market to buy some fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers.  As I walked around visiting the different vendors, I couldn’t help but put on my marketing hat.  After all that’s what I do!  My biggest observation was that while all of the businesses were there to sell their products to as many people as possible, they were missing out on huge opportunities for continued sales.

Small businesses, especially mom and pop shops, have a special place in my heart, and my first thought was “somebody’s got to teach them how to market their small business!  Maybe I should!!”  My mind swirled with all the great ways small businesses can spread the word about what they do, bring in new customers, and secure repeat business.

I thought it through and pulled out some of my best ideas on what mom and pop shops could do better from a marketing perspective to broaden their reach and increase their sales.  All these ideas center on a single central marketing concept, email marketing.

This type of small business marketing is one of the most important tools small businesses have at their disposal. Why?  Because email marketing, unlike social media, is direct.  Once you have someone’s email, you have an opportunity to get in front of them on a regular basis and you have the ability to personalize and target the marketing messages you give them.

In order to use email marketing effectively, you need ways to gather email addresses of current and prospective customers.  Here are some of the best ways small businesses can gather email addresses.

1.      Give Something Away

Everyone loves to win free things and one of the best techniques for getting people to give you their email address is to have a free drawing for one of your products.

2.      Offer an Educational Opportunity

Do you have a special skill or is there something customers and prospects would love to learn that you can teach?  Hosting a free online webinar or in person seminar where people have to register, including their email, to attend, is another way to gather email addresses.  As an added bonus, this can boost your image as an expert in your field.

3.      Create a Preferred Customer List

Let customers sign-up on a piece of paper in your shop, stand, or stall to be preferred customers to get advance notice of sales and special discounts and promotions.

4.      Share Something Special

If you are known for your ability to grow amazing tomatoes, write an ebook about how to grow tomatoes and offer it for free to anyone who signs up.  You can even do this offline at a farm stand without electricity by having people sign-up and sending the ebook via email.

5.       Appreciate Your Customers

Remember, everyone likes to win and when you position it as a monthly customer appreciation drawing, you give customers the chance to win while letting them know you appreciate their business and gathering their email addresses.  It is a win for everyone.

The key to effective email marketing is getting the email addresses of your customer base.  With a good email list, you can send personal emails, a regular newsletter, and announcements about sales and promotions.   Marketing experts say you generally need to connect with someone seven times to make a sale, email marketing can make it easier to reach out and connect.