Commercial revitalization is a challenge even during good times. Juggling the competing needs of property owners, business owners and public and private stakeholders is not an easy task. And as shoppers reduce discretionary spending – your local businesses are suffering and probably considering retrenching. In the name of survival, businesses are revisiting every cost, from marketing to inventory. As a commercial district manager, what can you do to help them? One of the most effective ways you can help your businesses is to help them advertise things like in-store events, sales and discounts. Communicate to your districts customers the value proposition – and encourage them to visit your district and spend their dollars.

The most cost effective way for you to do this is with an effective email marketing campaign. However, email marketing falls flat without a great email list. If you haven’t been building your email list, there is no time like the present. Your email list is the most powerful resource you have as an organization to get the word out about your promotional events, in-store discounts and sales, not to mention a good way to solicit volunteers, encourage fundraising, and keep your constituents up to date on your districts happenings.

Here are some basic strategies to keep in mind:

  • Make sure every page of your website has icon to sign up for your mailing list. Make the registration feature stand out.
  • Collect business cards at participating downtown businesses – offer a reward or raffle to those who sign up (perhaps a gift certificate or meal at downtown restaurant?)
  • Add a signature line to all your outgoing emails that includes a message and link to subscribe.
  • Be sure that subscription comes with something of value – a newsletter, discounts, etc.
  • Ask everyone who calls your office if they would like to add their email to your mailing list over the phone.
  • At every speaking engagements and public meeting, be sure to pass out sign-up sheets to promote your newsletter and other information.
  • Ask if other websites will allow you to put a sign-in link on their page (this can include local businesses that have websites, the local Chamber of Commerce, etc.)
  • If you’ve got a newsletter, distribute press releases based on the articles and make sure the release includes information on how to subscribe.
  • If you send out mailings, make sure to include information on how to subscribe to email updates.
  • If all else fails, consider purchasing or renting a few key mailing lists. Local trade associations, chambers of commerce, local businesses or community papers may be willing to rent you their lists for special events. Be sure to include information in those mailings that tells them how to sign up for your mailing list directly.

Remember, the better your email list, the better you will be at spreading the word about your district businesses!