Are You Missing Out on This Direct Marketing Opportunity?

Last weekend I went to a local farmer’s market to buy some fresh fruits and vegetables.  As I visited the different businesses exhibiting at the market, 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 a huge opportunity for continued sales.

Small businesses, especially ones like the ones at my local farmer’s market, have a special place in my heart.  I immediately wanted to go give them marketing tips to help them be successful.  My mind raced with ideas for how these small businesses could spread the word about what they do, bring in new customers, and secure repeat business.

What I realized was that there was one marketing strategy that they were missing out on that would make a significant impact on their business, and that marketing strategy is email marketing.

Customer and prospect email addresses are one of the most important assets a small business can have.  Because email, unlike social media, goes directly to the consumer.  Social media on the other hand is a hit and miss proposition.  Even though you may have 100 fans on Facebook, the actual number of people who see your marketing message is only a fraction of that.  While you can’t guarantee that people will open your emails, if you have their correct email address you can at least make sure that all of the people on your list are receiving your message.

In order to use email marketing effectively in your business, 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 with your customers.

Want to get more inexpensive and practical small business marketing ideas, grab a free e-book called “Build Buzz for Your Biz, 23 Creative and Inexpensive Marketing Strategies That Will Get You Noticed” at

Wendy Kenney is the bestselling author of How to Build Buzz for Your Business available on, and has been featured in the Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and Newsday.

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