7 strategies to help you make the A-LIST
The competition is tough for small businesses on our annual readers' choice survey, but a few smart strategies can help you get ahead.
It’s A-LIST voting season once again, and as the digital editor for TulsaPeople, I’m running on pure stress and coffee, perfecting the ballots, getting the word out, hoping to all that is holy that all the links are functioning properly. My goal is to make the A-LIST bigger and better than the year before, with even more Tulsans sharing their thoughts and opinions to create the definitive guide to the best our city has top offer across five categories: Dine Local, Head to Toe, Services, Shop Local and Fun For All.
I absolutely love watching the votes roll in across the voting period (this year, Feb. 15-March 15). I know, I know, I’m a nerd, but I love watching trends emerge.
What I don’t love as much is how every year, once the votes are counted, I get calls, messages and emails from disappointed business owners whose companies didn’t make the list. It’s tough to explain that no matter how great your business it, we as the editorial team don’t get a say in the A-LIST. It's all about the votes baby. And by the time these companies reach out, it’s too late for this year.
I know you don’t want to be that business owner.
So, as the A-LIST voting is just now beginning, here are some strategies and free resources to give your odds of making the A-LIST a boost.
1. Rely on your customers, not the general public
Our readers and social media followers are amazing, educated, influential and savvy — but they may not be your customers (yet).
And who is more qualified to vouch for your company's awesomeness than your customers? Mobilizing your customer base is the most powerful way to make sure that folks who know, like and trust your business are voting in the survey. This is especially crucial if you are in a niche industry with a very particular customer base, or if you are in a space with lots of competition. Don’t forget to consider all the different ways you have contact with your customers. Social media, email newsletter, face-to-face conversations and more are great ways to get to word out about voting in channels that you’re already using to get in touch with customers.
2. Share our social media posts about the A-LIST
Be sure that you’re following TulsaPeople across social channels, but especially on Facebook. By sharing our content directly with your followers, it will be more likely that your customers get targeted by any paid advertising we might do. So it’s a win-win, for both us and you.
3. Get your employees on board and advocating for you
If you’re serious about making the A-LIST, make sure everyone at the company is on the same page. Call a meeting or send an email to explain what the A-LIST is, where people can vote (TulsaPeople.com/A-LIST), and when (Feb. 15-March 15). You want to make sure your message is consistent. It’s especially important to get this info to any employee who interfaces with members of the public, such as wait staff and sales associates, because a quick conversation at checkout can turn into a vote for your business. Yay!
4. Create an incentive to vote
We think that the $500 dining package we’re offering as a grand prize is a pretty sweet incentive to vote, but you can certainly sweeten the pot for your customers. Consider offering a small discount to customers who vote for you on the spot (if you know the number of your category, it makes it extra simple). If offering a discount incentive isn’t an option, consider encouraging your followers to share screenshots of their votes, and give them the warm fuzzies in return by sharing these screenshots. Plus, the social proof will encourage even more folks to vote for you.
5. Use our free A-LIST marketing resources.
Our A-LIST toolkit includes a printable poster, a website tile ad and more:
By using our assets, you save time (because you don’t have to generate your own graphics) and also strengthens brand recognition. We know there are a lot of readers’ choice ballots out there, so consistency is key for voter participation.
6. Get to know your category number(s) now
Download this PDF list of all 105 categories. Once you’ve figured out which categories match you business, put those numbers in any social media posts or in-store signage. We know that it’s a long survey, and you’ll want to make sure your loyal customers know exactly where to navigate to give you a shout-out.
7. Familiarize yourself with the A-LIST voting rules
We encourage people to fill out as much of the ballot as they can, but we know that it’s time consuming. Not everyone has expertise and experience in all areas, and that’s okay!
Voters must complete 75% of the ballot to qualify for the grand prize, but their vote counts no matter how many categories they complete. A ballot with one category filled out it still a vote. (You won’t trick us by putting “N/A,” “nope” or “your mom” as a vote to try to meet the 75% prize line. Sorry Charlie.)
It’s important to note that we only accept one ballot per person for the entire voting period — duplicate ballots and obvious ballot stuffing will be removed. Yes, we do look at all that stuff.
We want to make sure that the 2019 A-LIST is as comprehensive, fair and accurate as possible. This annual reader survey not only gives exposure and accolades to deserving businesses, but also serves as a valuable resource for out-of-town visitors, newcomers and Tulsans seeking new services and experiences. With your help, we can make sure that the A-LIST features the very best Tulsa has to offer.
And if you have any questions, feel free to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s make the 2019 A-LIST a success together!