Chicago Entrepreneurs Show Off Their Marketing Prowess

We’ve all seen great marketing campaigns and said to ourselves, “I wish I thought of that!” Since there’s a lot to be gained from looking at what other entrepreneurs are doing to engage their customers, here are four great examples of Chicago businesses embracing email and social media.

  • To reach new audiences, the travel company My Daily Escape created a mascot named Mason, who happens to be a rubber chicken. Taking pictures of Mason in great locations and sharing his updates on social media helped increase fans and bookings for the company.
  • Another great example is Kinzie Chophouse. To promote a special event, the restaurant created a series of well timed and targeted emails and Facebook and Twitter posts specifically aimed at the after-work business crowd and neighborhood friends. Not only did the event sell out, they were also able to attract new customers that continue to return.
  • Elements Contemporary Ballet used a combination of email, social media, word of mouth, and traditional flyers to secure enough votes to be awarded a $10,000 grant. Along with receiving the grant, they nearly doubled their number of Facebook fans in two weeks.
  • To boost family volunteering, the Honeycomb Project turned to targeted email campaigns to promote upcoming volunteering events and encourage donations. Along with a 45 percent email open rate, all of the volunteer slots quickly filled and donations poured in to the organization.

If you really want to learn more from other entrepreneurs in the community and discover how your online marketing efforts rate, consider entering the Fourth Annual Small Business Online Marketing Contest being run by the Chicago City Treasurer’s Office and Constant Contact. Businesses must be located in Chicago to be eligible to win.

Any online marketing promotion is eligible for consideration. This includes that awesome Facebook holiday campaign, the email and social media event promotion that your customers are still talking about, and those fantastic newsletters that are getting unprecedented open and share rates.

How do you know your stuff is good enough? Well, the judges will be looking primarily at four factors: originality, polish and appeal, clarity in the message and desired action, and the promotion’s effectiveness in driving results.

Still unsure of what it takes to win? Check out the full details on this year’s contest and prizes here, read about last year’s winners here or simply brush up on your online marketing skills by attending a free seminar.

Steve Robinson is Constant Contact’s educational marketing expert in the Midwestern United States (IL, IN, KY, OH, & MI). He has over 30 years experience supporting small business, with a background in small business marketing, management & development. He has helped thousands of small businesses, associations, and nonprofits develop and implement effective email marketing, social media, online survey and engagement marketing strategies. Steve has twice been named to Crain’s Chicago Business’ Who’s Who in Non-Profit Management and currently writes a guest blog for’s Inc.well Blog. Steve draws from this experience to be a valuable resource to Midwestern small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Steve has educated more than 40,000 small businesses on behalf of Constant Contact since joining the team in 2007 and has presented at @Midwest, Techweek Chicago, & for the City of Chicago Treasurer’s Office Online Marketing Contest to name just a few.

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