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Yelp Ends Free Announcement and Special Offer Postings

This afternoon I logged on a Yelp business account.  The  account is for my church, the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco, and most weeks I post the weekly service description as an announcement in the 140 characters Yelp has offered for free.  The description shows up highlighted on the church’s Yelp page so visitors can check out what’s coming up that Sunday.

Today Yelp greeted me with a pop up saying that they were phasing out announcements and special offer notices August 11th.

Yelp Notice Ending Its Free Special Offers and Annoucements

Yelp said they’re stopping the free announcements because business owners had requested a better way to reach people. That smacks of an untruth, frankly. I doubt any business asked the free highlighting to stop so they can sign up and pay Yelp to offer special deals.

In fact, I am not even sure that as a consumer I need yet another deal-offering site.  Groupon, Living Social, and Google are all offering deals of the day — Google’s announcement of a program for San Francisco was on the news just today.  Yelp and Open Table have also sent me deal emails in the past months.  A steadier stream of deals from Yelp won’t be welcome in my inbox.

And,  really?  Yelp is making this change for my business, the church?  Wow.  What kind of Yelp deal should my church offer?

A special deal on salvation?  Unfortunately, hellfire isn’t a part of Unitarian Universalist theology, so we’d have to work on exactly what we’re offering.  We don’t encourage visitors to contribute to the collection plate, so we cannot offer a discount there either. Would you want two sermons for the price of one, anyway?

But, I am sure Yelp’s sales staff will call us and help us figure out something we can advertize.

Ultimately, it’s disappointing that non-profit community groups are getting slammed in Yelp’s zeal to monetize its pages.

By |2011-07-12T17:41:46-07:00July 12th, 2011|Social Media, Yelp|1 Comment

Don’t Tell Them — Invite Them!

Does your electronic newsletter read like the bulletin board at the laundromat? Do titles and dates of events fill up the space, but a passerby would have summon the courage to make a cold call to you to get more information?

Posting event announcements with the basic “who, what, where, when, and why”– for either for-profit or not-for-profit businesses — is not enough!  Customers (or “participants” or “members”) don’t automatically make the connection between a fact that something is happening and that you would like them to attend.  The implied invitation to “join in” is simply not heard or seen by a lot of people.

When I grew up in Los Angeles, one incessant TV advertiser was Cal Worthington Ford.  Their commercials featured a sung earworm chant, “Go see Cal! Go see Cal! Go see Cal!”  The repetition might have been been tiresome to hear, but it was great marketing.  Not only were you told about the week’s special deals in the commercial, there was a clear, unambiguous call to action: Go see Cal!

Your newsletters should be as clear as Cal’s advertisements.   When you write about your organization’s activities, tell the reader exactly what you want them to do and how to do it. Buy, participate, donate by clicking, register, or just show up.  Bring a form, fulfill a prerequisite, or be a newbie off the street.  Say who’s welcome and where they should go.

When I edit my church’s weekly newsletter, I spend a fair amount of time translating laundromat bulletins into invitations to join in.  Notices about  classes, ceremonies, and concerts contain information about exciting happenings, but unless you’re one of the organizers or have attended similar events in the past, it’s not always obvious that visitors or new people are welcome.

“Why would we tell people about the [name the event], if we didn’t want people to show up?” I get asked.  It’s a good question, but a simple statement of what you want people to reduces the emotional risk for newcomers.

You know that the artist reception is a way to get publicity for the unknown photographer exhibiting. But, I may think I need to be a critic or an established art buyer to be welcome to the gallery show.

You know that the monthly hikes around San Francisco are purely social affairs where no business is conducted.  But, I may think that I have to already be a member of the sponsoring committee to be accepted on the trails.

You know that the choir is always searching for talented singers.  But, I may think that I have to already know a specific repertoire before showing up for the auditions.

The solution is simple.  Write your newsletters like you are talking to a friend.  When you tell a friend, “I am going to see the 11 am Saturday matinee at the iMax” you add, “Would you like to come with me? I’ll pick you up at your house at 10:15.”

Add the same invitation to your newsletter.

By |2010-08-02T07:25:18-07:00August 2nd, 2010|Newsletters|0 Comments