Getting the word out when you have no mailing list

Jill Willett headshot_circle

So you’ve started a food business…or perhaps you’ve had one for years. I’m sure at some point in time, you’ve asked yourself the question: how the heck do I tell people what I’m up to?

Many of you reading this already have a really innovative local food product, or are launching a food truck, or are starting a commercial kitchen. Some of you might even be considering a future food business but are working in an entirely different field. Wherever you are, getting the word out about your business is a crucial, yet daunting and overwhelming task.

Where do you even start?

Many of my clients don’t even have a mailing list. (Yes, even those who have been in business for several years.) For those who have attended one of my free marketing workshops, you know how passionate I am about building your mailing lists! You could have the best product or business in the world, and if you have no strategy to tell people about it, you won’t get very far.

For those who don’t have an easily reachable audience, here are my top three tips (and a bonus) on how to get started:

  • Offer to be a guest blogger – find a related blog or website (with a decent following and a similar ideal customer of yours) and offer to write some content for them. Make it easy for them: send an outline with key points, an image to promote it, and make sure you include a link to your site and a small bio sentence in italics at the end. Or a link to sign up for your mailing list is even better if you have one.
  • Offer to do a free demo and collect contact information – pick a venue that your ideal customers might frequent, like HQ Raleigh or a farmers market, offer samples, talk people up, get their feedback. The MOST important part: bring a signup sheet to collect email addresses, create a compelling reason for people to want to stay in touch with you, and be unapologetic about asking people to sign up.
  • Consolidate email addresses for 100 friends and family members – Seriously. Do it now. Just pop them into an excel sheet until you get a program like Mailchimp up and running. Clean up all the business cards on your desk (and in your purses, ladies), and get them all in one place. If you’re emailing people directly and not using a newsletter platform, just remember to include a sentence at the end about emailing you to unsubscribe at any time.
  • And a quick bonus tip: Aim for completion, not perfection. Even if it’s quick and dirty, just get your stuff out there. Have faith that your brand, your message, or whatever you think is imperfect will evolve over time.

Interested in building your mailing list to 500 names in only 6 months? The Food Maker Mastermind group kicks off August 24th with that challenge – join us!

Wishing you the best,


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