23 September, 2013

Don't be Satisfied With A .006% Return On Your Neighborhood Watch Startup Efforts; Get A Nearly 100% Return.

A certain city paid for the design, printing and mailing of Neighborhood Watch fliers to every resident. All but a very few residents ignored the fliers. 

I recently consulted with a fellow who has been trying to start a Neighborhood Watch and I asked him what he has done so far. He told me he had made "door hanger" announcements and hung them on doors around his neighborhood. Nobody replied. That's a 0% return on effort and investment.

I'm not a big fan of inefficiency so a few years ago when I was part of a committee that was planning a community event I was disgusted when our main sponsor said they knew from experience that this event would get 30 attendees and they found that acceptable. How did they know the event would get 30 attendee? They knew because they had done this event in other cities and they knew from experience that if they sent 5,000 post cards they'd get 30 attendees. 

That's a .006 % return.

Needless to say, I wasn't satisfied so I wrote media releases which got me invited to be a guest on several local radio talk shows where I promoted the event. It was perfect. We were aiming at an audience of pentagenarians which happens to be who listens to talk radio. Instead of the 30 registrants our major sponsor predicted we got hundreds of registrants and we had to waitlist people, move into a larger venue and repeat the event several times. My deep pocketed sponsor squealed with delight.

Very few people respond to fliers on their doors or in their mailboxes so when you're trying to start a Neighborhood Watch, do what works: knock on every door in your neighborhood and ask the residents for their email addresses, cell phone numbers and any other contact info they have. I can tell you from experience that nearly 100% of the people I've asked have gladly given me the info when I explain to them that this is how they're going to receive crime tips, meeting announcements, etc.

During a recent power outage in my ward I texted people with up-to-the-minute info I was getting from the power company guys who were working to repair the downed line and get the power back on. People actually asked me to add them to my text message list as a result of that reporting. 

Don't be satisfied with a .006% return. Do what delivers a nearly 100% return. Knock on doors and ask people for their contact info. Then keep them informed. They'll appreciate it. They'll tell their neighbors. Some of them will come out to a meeting where they can meet their police, their council person and their neighbors and start to feel part of a neighborhood again. 

And if you live in the city limits of St. Albans, WV, join "Public Group For St. Albans WV Neighborhood Watch." 
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