Holly Howard is our go-to business consultant. She’s helped countless small businesses in Brooklyn and beyond (including us here at Brooklyn Based) with her expertise and know-how. This summer, in an unprecedented program, 10 small businesses in Red Hook, Brooklyn have come together to work as a community to grow their businesses through Holly’s From Artisan to Entrepreneur® Business Growth Program. This program was made possible through the generous support from ReStore Red Hook, New York Business Development Corporation, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Over the next 10 weeks, Holly will dedicate her weekly advice column to a specific business in Red Hook that is participating in her in hopes that their journeys will bring enlightenment and inspiration to your business as well. This week she fields a question from the owners of The Good Fork.
We’re working on our marketing strategy and trying to refine the tactics we use. Part of our strategy includes sending out email newsletters. Our question to you is how often should a restaurant send out an e-mail blast to its list? We want to stay in people’s minds but we don’t want to pester them!
The Good Fork
Dear Ben and Sohui,
It’s good that you recognize that too many updates can actually harm your business rather than help it. We can become overly ambitious, bombard our customers with updates and then they just tune out.
The best process you can use is to invest in a software like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. Unlike other forms of marketing, you’ll have immediate feedback on your process. Those types of services track your newsletter, and their statistics will tell you who opens them, if they click through to your site, and if they send them on to others. That’s such valuable feedback for your marketing plan. I strongly encourage you to invest in that type of software, and check your stats when sending a letter. You’ll see immediately what the level of interest is. If the open rate is low for your industry (the software will typically tell you what industry standards are), then it’s likely not where you should focus a lot of your effort and time and you should scale back your effort.
But more importantly when sending a newsletter, consider your message. Only send out a newsletter if you have something of value to say. What I mean by this is that it’s more effective if you give people a reason to open a newsletter such as an event, a promotion, a change at the business, rather than just sending something to stay on their minds. This is going to inform how frequently you communicate with your customers. You may have events weekly and need to alert your customers of them or it may be that you only have updates monthly or quarterly.
Bottom line is it’s likely you could send out a newsletter somewhere between once a week and once a month to stay on people’s minds, but not pester them. The frequency of your newsletter simply depends on what you have happening within the restaurant and what of value you have to share with them. Be sure to look at the big picture of your strategy and do not rely on one tactic to carry your marketing plan. Remember that a newsletter takes a substantial amount of effort your part to put together. If you can only get it out once a month, that is surely better than not doing it at all.