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Thrive Tip #5: How to Build Your Email List

It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that we were first coming together to talk about how to refresh, reinvigorate, and reignite your catering business and look at us now! In just a few lessons, you’ve already managed to expand your social media presence, create a visual brand, add additional revenue streams to your income, and build the perfect team. But guess what, we still have 2 more juicy pieces of marketing knowledge to go.

Today, we’ll be tackling what I consider to be one of the most important marketing strategies out there: list building. Not only does list building allow you to engage and communicate with your customers, but it also provides stability for your business.

I’ve already given you a lot of marketing goodies, but if you really want to take your business to the next level, I highly recommend that you pay special attention to this topic.  This is a big one that I could chat about with you over a good tea (or a nice Japanese whiskey) for hours, but I will try to distill it down to the key highlights.

Thrive Tip #5: Build Up Your Email List With Potential Clients

It’s no surprise that email is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reach your customers in a short amount of time. With a single click, everyone on your mailing list can receive instant updates about what’s new with your businesses and the industry. According to The Relevancy Group, nearly 93 percent of U.S. consumers check their emails at least once a day, with most people checking multiple times in a 24 hour period.  That means you have people just waiting to click on your note in their inbox.

A strong email list means you can

  • Start to use awesome marketing strategies like webinars, surveys, blogs, podcasts, etc. and begin profiting from a captive audience.
  • Gut-check, pre-sell, and launch new products and services to an audience who is already familiar with you and feels an affinity for who you are and what you offer.
  • Get a surge of cash from existing customers by matching them with other products or services that you offer that meet their needs.
  • Have a powerful and growing asset that generates revenue on demand right at your fingertips.

Since email lists can mean large amounts of revenue for your company, it only makes sense that you use everything in your power to expand your list to reach an even larger group of customers and potential clients. To help you achieve this, I’m offering up four surefire tips that will help expand your email reach.

Add Value to Add Volume to Your List

Content is the currency of list building. People will sign up for your email list if they feel you are offering them relevant and valuable content in exchange for their information.

The first step in list building is to create a gated content offer (also known as a lead magnet) that helps soothe a pain point. You can “gate” exceptionally valuable content by asking for a first name and email address in exchange for your free expertise.  Once someone enters in their information and opts in, they get your freebie and you get a new subscriber to your list.  (Note: Make sure that you are GDPR compliant when you are collecting email addresses, especially from the UK.

How do you know what to offer?  You get to know your customer’s needs. Here are three simple steps to choosing your first lead magnet topic:

  1. Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes and write down all of their pain points.  These could be anything from not being able to figure out how to choose the proper serving style for their event to not knowing how to have their favorite flower in their decor while ballin’ on a budget.
  2. Write a list of what your client needs to understand, be aware of, or believe in order to buy your product or service.  Think about all of the things you wished clients knew before booking you…If only brides would stop thinking they’re wedding planners just because they spent a lot of time on their Pinterest boards… If only people understood that farm-to-table is more than just a hipster event theme…If only… (fill in the blank).
  3. See if you can match any of the items on your first list to the items on your second.  When you find a match, bada bing, bada boom – you have your first lead magnet topic!

Your lead magnet could come in the form of a list, infographic, checklist, video… Just about anything that clearly transmits your expertise on a topic your ideal client really wants to know about.

Make Opting-In to Your Email List Impossible to Miss

The design of your lead magnet is almost as important as the content.  It might seem like a no-brainer, but even the most eager future customers can’t subscribe to your email list if they don’t know how. Make it super easy for folks scrolling through the interwebs to understand what you are offering and where to enter in their email address.

Highly converting opt-in boxes, landing pages, and link placement in your weekly content (more on that later) will make a huge difference in how quickly you grow your list. When it comes time to update your website, consider adding lightboxes or a fun pop up that ask visitors to enter their email in exchange for valuable, expert advice.

Pop-ups may seem a tad annoying, but they are highly effective.  Don’t go crazy and make your website visitor feel like they are playing whack-a-mole with boxes appearing all over the place. A delayed pop-up with an inviting design will help you start to gain more traction with your list building efforts.

A side note (and a bit of a personal pet peeve): I would discourage you from asking people to opt into your “newsletter”.  To most, that just sounds like they are signing up to be spammed.  You have a lot of expertise and knowledge to offer and should position your words as the golden thought unicorns that they are.  Offer the opportunity to opt into your “Weekly Event Planning Secrets” or “Party Pro Tips”.  Not only does that type of positioning sound more exciting, but it also seems like something important that your reader should pay attention to when it lands in their inbox.

Encourage Your Subscribers to Spread The Word

When I find a cool new cooking gadget or business productivity tool, the first thing I do after geeking out is to share my new find with my friends.  If your content is interesting, relevant and useful, your list subscribers will want to share it with their friends, too.  Most likely, your ideal client’s friends are also your ideal client and it only makes sense to try to tap into your friends-of-friends circle. If the thank you page for the content you create contains social share buttons or a “refer a friend” link, you might be surprised at how many people will do just that.

Nurture Your List Consistently

Now that you have folks on your list, what the heck do you do with them?  Nurture them with more content every week.  Consistent content helps do several things:

  1. It builds the relationship and increases the “know, like, trust” factor
  2. Your audience becomes accustomed to hearing from you, which makes them more receptive to future service announcements and upsells
  3. You show that you mean business by reliably showing up every week with helpful tips that make a meaningful difference in their lives

Are you ready to take your marketing strategy to new heights? Make sure to vote for this thrive tip by sharing and viewing this article. You might just have the chance to make list building the focus of my next webinar. Remember the tip with the most views will be the webinar topic, so get those votes in!

In our final post of the series, we’ll be discussing “Thrive Tip #6: The Power of Video.” Learn how to get started with creating original videos that will attract new clients and establish your business as the industry standard.


Aleya Harris is the owner of The Social Media Pantry and Food & Beverage Media and Marketing, a boutique marketing agency for F&B brands and individuals that specializes in content creation and marketing strategy. She is a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef and former private chef and catering company owner with extensive experience as a Marketing Executive for a large foodservice company.  She is obsessed about marketing and helping F&B pros turn their talent into treasure.  @fbmediaandmarketing

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Most catering and events business owners fail at making money doing what they love because they don't know how to market themselves. Through her company, Flourish Marketing, Aleya offers marketing education, strategy, and tools that help wedding, catering, and events business owners stop staring at a blank calendar and start getting and keeping a consistent stream of clients. Aleya is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who also happens to be an award-winning, marketing strategist, brand manager, content developer, and storyteller. She has a background as a marketing executive on the leadership teams of large foodservice organizations and has also been a private chef and catering company owner. Aleya speaks your language and understands your challenges. She knows how important it is to work in your passion. That's why for the past 12 years, she has been focused on helping over 1,000 accounts, brands, and business owners to be successful. Aleya is a dynamic interpersonal communicator and presenter with the exceptional ability to inspire, motivate, and equip her audience. She loves opportunities to connect, help people develop, and create the space for her fellow entrepreneurs to see their visions manifest.

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