From Your Friends resumed mailings in June
While we stopped services for April and May, From Your Friends resumed has resumed our monthly mailings as of June to provide our subscribers with the constant contact they need to generate repeat business and referrals!
Why We Cancelled April & May Mailings
Several items influenced our decisions. The main deciding factor was that over 90% of Americans had been ordered by their governors or mayors to stay at home. Our program has always been focused on providing an item-of-value that can be used by postcard recipients to enjoy a free offer or discount at a local restaurant or attraction. Beyond all other considerations, it seemed ill-advised in April and May to be encouraging our postcard recipients to leave their homes while our government is mandating citizens to stay at home to protect their own health and to slow the spread of the virus. While we considered the option of promoting restaurants that provide delivery, many restaurants were completely closed and those that were open have limited services and limited time to discuss and implement marketing plans as well as very narrow operating margins that make offering discounts difficult. Most restaurants were making day-to-day decisions on their operating hours and services.
Additionally, the state of Colorado, where our offices are located, was under a “Stay-In-Place” order until April 27th and non-essential businesses like ours can only work remotely. While some of our work could be accomplished remotely, essential items like the packaging and shipping of our unmailed postcards required in-person effort that was impossible under these circumstances.
The Colorado stay-at-home orders have been lifted and our employees are now able to safely return to work and have begun coordinating outstanding and appropriate offers for the remainder of the year. We are confident that most states will have relaxed their restaurant closure orders by mid-June. Of course, we are monitoring the situation daily and will make changes to this schedule if necessary.
Real Estate Marketing During the Pandemic
For some people, buying or selling a home is the last thing on their minds right now. But others are dealing with job changes, investment property challengers or the need to make use of the equity in their homes. Regardless of the challenges presented by the pandemic, now is not the time for real estate agents to disappear. In fact, staying in contact with your sphere of influence is more important than ever to ensure your business returns quickly as normalcy reasserts itself.
Here are a few things we are doing in response to the unique challenges of marketing during the pandemic:
1) Careful & Appropriate Selection of Featured Partner Offers
Over the coming months, we’ll be carefully selecting our featured partners to ensure that your recipients will both appreciate and be able to easily use the offer within the constraints of social distancing guidelines. Certain planned partners including sporting events, theme parks, etc. will be postponed to later dates and replaced with offers more appropriate to the current situation.
2) Delivery and Take-out Options When Possible
Even as dining rooms open again, we will ensure all restaurant offers are valid for take-out or delivery for people concerned with dining in public spaces.
3) Extension of Expiration Dates to Enhance Usability of Offers
Generally, we have offered a 2-month redemption period for most offers. We will be extending that redemption period to 3-months in most cases to ensure that if a temporary shut down occurs for any reason, recipients will still have time to make use of your postcard.
4) Personalization Options to Share YOUR Message
Our online design tool allows customization of your postcards in order to share the message most important to you. Whether that’s concern, solidarity, a charitable effort or simply a reminder of your availability to help, you can personalize your postcards in any way you choose. We’ll be offering some pre-designed templates with positive messages as well.
5) Supporting Our Struggling Hospitality Industry
Restaurants and venues are struggling! There are more than 1 million restaurants in the U.S., with more than 15 million employees. So far, more than 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off or lost their jobs due to COVID-19. These workers need our immediate financial support. Your co-promotional marketing encourages traffic and awareness and increases the sales of our partner restaurants and venues, ensuring your local businesses stay alive and even thrive. We hope you’ll consider that when making your participation decisions throughout the rest of the year. Our commitment is to give back to the hospitality community that has been such a good partner to our company and agents throughout the years. Throughout 2020, we’ll be sending a portion of the revenue from every postcard you purchase to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. With your help, our goal is to donate at least $10,000! The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was created to help restaurant industry employees experiencing extraordinary hardship in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Individual $500 grants will be made to restaurant industry employees who have been impacted by COVID-19, including a decrease in wages or loss of employment. https://rerf.us/
What Happens if a Future Featured Restaurant Closes?
We are going to see more restaurants close over the coming year than we’ve ever seen in the history of the United States.
There is always a small inherent risk in co-promotional marketing, especially when trying to support small, local businesses, but we do our very best to work with only solid, reputable companies. However, we do ask that our subscribers share this risk. At From Your Friends, we are committed to finding outstanding partners and negotiating valuable free offers and discounts. We provide this service, as well as managing your database, offering monthly personalization, and printing and mailing your postcards. However, that is where our responsibility has to end, and our Subscribtion Agreement has always outlined this aspect of our customer relationship.
Section 11.8 of the Subscription Agreement all customers sign when they create an account says:
Discounts and offers made by participating featured Partners and printed on Materials and Web Site are authorized in writing by an official officer or agent of the Participating Featured Partner. Honoring the discounts and offers printed on FROM YOUR FRIENDS Materials and Website is the sole responsibility of the participating featured Partner… FROM YOUR FRIENDS is not responsible for and cannot be held liable for featured participating Partner’s failure to honor offers or discount for any reason, including termination of their business operations.
We want to ensure that all of our customers understand that once a postcard has been printed and shipped, we cannot offer a refund if a featured restaurant or venue changes or terminates their operations during the promotional period.
We communicate regularly with our featured partners to ensure this doesn’t happen, including a confirmation discussion on the day your postcards are printed. But even with the utmost diligence, some things are outside of our control. If a featured postcard partner informs us of their change/closure prior to the actual printing/mailing of a postcard, we will provide either a refund or an alternate partner. But once a postcard is printed/mailed, responsibility for honoring the redemption falls completely on the postcard partner.
We hope you understand this policy as we move forward in uncertain times!