Mining for Gold in Neighborhood Newsletters

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By Kevin M

This is a weekly open forum dedicated to increasing income, cash flow and customer base, for anybody who needs to increase business or supplement a paycheck. Salaried employees, homemakers, small business owners, commissioned sales people, entrepreneurs, retirees—this is FOR you, and we’d like to hear FROM you. What works in one household or business may not work in another, but then again it might. Or it might be modified and adapted to different situations.

As a small business owner or sales person, one of your biggest jobs is marketing your product or service, and doing it in the least expensive ways possible. This is especially important if you’re starting a new business, or struggling to keep cash flow in a difficult economy!

One way to do this is through home owners association (HOA) newsletters.

Many HOA’s send out monthly or quarterly newsletters, something akin to a free circulation community newspaper. They’ll include the relevant business of the neighborhood, social events, personal accomplishments and community issues. But they usually also include space for advertisements—they’re looking for income too. Some will have a classified section, but most have ads throughout the newsletter.

Ad space in these publications is usually very inexpensive, maybe $25 – $50 per display ad, less for classified. If you’re a resident of the neighborhood, or if you’re a regular advertiser, you may even be able to get a discount on the going rate. And though the circulation may be only a few hundred households, there’s a high rate of readership. Since they’re neighborhood publications, they’re often the primary means of communication between the neighborhood board of directors and the residents, as well as the fact that people like the prospect of reading about themselves and their neighbors. After all, we’re all at least a little bit vain!

If you don’t live in an HOA neighborhood, you can still advertise in newsletters of other neighborhoods. Try looking on the internet under the subdivision name—they often have websites that include newsletter contact information. Failing that, call someone you know in the neighborhood, or even drive around the subdivision and ask any residents you see if there’s a newsletter and who you might call for information.

Many service businesses can advertise here, as well as some products, though there may be limitations from one neighborhood to the next. Where I live, ads placed by real estate agents and financial planners are common, but you can probably do it with many other types of businesses as well.

It Can Get Even Better

If HOA neighborhoods are common where you live, you may even be able to do segment marketing, depending upon what it is you’re selling. High end neighborhoods would be a logical place to advertise financial planning services, while lower end subdivisions might work better for a real estate agent looking for trade up buyers. Baby sitting services, computer repair or any of the trades would work at any level.

Bonus: one of the great things about neighborhood advertising is that once you get a customer or two in a given subdivision, you’ll likely get referrals if you’ve done a good job. People are unsure when using a business for the first time and will often consult others—including neighbors—for referrals. A referral from a neighbor, coupled with a regular ad in the neighborhood newsletter is a powerful marketing tool.

Condos and Apartments

If there aren’t many HOA neighborhoods in your area, you can also try condominiums. Condo newsletters would likely have a similar customer base to subdivisions, so the same general rules would apply, except that you wouldn’t advertise property maintenance services, like lawn care, since that function is handled by the condo itself.

Another place to try is apartments, as many of the larger garden type properties also issue newsletters. But apartments would also represent a different clientele. Obviously, you don’t want to be advertising home improvement services to tenants, but you might consider anything related to home buying.

One thing I’ve done in the past is to find apartment complexes that will allow you to provide insert ads that they’ll include with the monthly newsletter. If it’s a product or service they feel will be a benefit to their tenants they will welcome your ads as an add on service. Do some digging—even at the rental office—and you may be able to locate a service that will distribute your inserts in a large number of complexes. Whether you do it yourself or through a service, it is definitely one of the less expensive and more direct ways of reaching prospects.

If you’re a salaried worker, retiree or a homemaker, what are you doing to find new sources of income? If you’re a business owner, or in some capacity responsible for bringing business in the door, what is it you’re doing to attract customers and cash flow in this economy? What ideas have you heard about or know others to be doing? What’s working, what’s not?

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