Small businesses are a big deal.

Today’s small businesses employ nearly 50% of U.S. workers. That keeps more money in local economies. Helping those communities to advance over time. Leading to more substantial and authentic cities and towns.

In fact, the longer a small business runs, the better the community becomes!

Successful small business owners strike a balance between progress and passion. Paring their passion project with a business need in their local community. They make sure that when their business grows and prospers, their communities benefit too. Striking this balance is the key to the longevity of a successful small business. And we’re here to help you get there.

This year, the Small Business Association (SBA) named three Constant Contact customers “Small Business Persons of the Year” for their state. And all of them reach their goals by using online marketing and community involvement to balance progress with passion. 

Start with a need and follow a passion

Successful businesses grow from two core elements: addressing a need in the community and following a passion.

Karla Deann Santi, Small Business Persons of the Year, South Dakota

headshot of Karla Deanne Santi - 2022 SBA Small Business Persons of The Year, South Dakota
Karla Deann Santi, Co-founder, Blend Interactive

Blend Interactive

In 2005, there was a need for firms that could build complex websites that were designed to be easy to use and that supported businesses with high levels of information. But in Karla’s community, there wasn’t a company that offered both.

That’s why Karla and her team created Blend Interactive.

Blend Interactive provides a “blend” of both ease of use and complexity of design. They build websites that can handle all the information and organize it in an easy, meaningful way for the consumer and the business. As a woman in a leadership role, Karla has acted as a role model for the company and a mentor for her community.

Mary & Chris Ginder, Small Business Persons of the Year, Illinois

Progress and Passion - Chris and Mary Ginder, SBA Small Business Owners Persons of the Year, Illinois 2022
Chris and Mary Ginder, Owners, Gindo’s Spice of Life

Gindo’s Spice of Life

In 2011,  Chris and Mary had a simple passion  —   making specialty sauces with fresh peppers, sea salts, and peppercorns — the spices of life.

This passion led to the start of Gindo’s Spice of Life. And it pours over into everything they do. All the way down to Mary’s email signature, “Have a spicy day!”

Today, Gindo’s helps their customers make memories in their own kitchens, all across the country.

David Heide, Small Business Persons of the Year, Wisconsin

passion and progress - Chef Dave Heide, SBA Small Business Persons of the Year, WI 2022
David Heide, Executive Chef and Owner, Liliana’s Restaurant

Liliana’s Restaurant

Executive Chef and Owner Dave Heide started Liliana’s Restaurant, along with Charlie’s on Main and Little John’s, because of his passion for creating delicious food.

As a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, Chef Dave has won numerous awards in the restaurant industry. But he is also known in his local community for his philanthropy. He partners with local farmers and those in need to address food waste and giving people better access to fresh food.

Liliana’s is a 100% family-owned restaurant, and the team creates initiatives and fundraisers to fight food insecurity in their community and abroad. 

Plan your marketing strategy now and save time later

For small business owners, there’s just never enough time. 

But, savvy business owners know that by setting aside time to outline a marketing strategy  —  whether for a single campaign or for a whole year  —   their marketing efforts will be more efficient and more effective. Giving them more time and money to spend on their passion projects!

Blend Interactive

As a tech company, Blend Interactive leaves nothing to chance when it comes to their online marketing strategy. And their online marketing tools are integral for monitoring the 3,125 contacts and 310 opportunities in their online tool. 

By using a combination of online marketing tools, Blend has created an organized method for making sure that all their customers are responded to appropriately and continually engaged.

Lead scoring tools

The more information you have about your contacts and leads, the better you’re able to communicate with them. To facilitate this, Blend strategically separates customer leads based on their behaviors and information by using a lead scoring tool

Email marketing

Instead of blindly sending the same message to everyone on their list via a mass email, Blend Interactive segments their contact list and sends specific, targeted information that resonates with each group. 

Opportunities and pipelines

The Blend team also uses the pipelines from opportunities in their sales cycle. The opportunity pipeline is a way to track the life cycle of certain leads and make sure that no one has been forgotten. 


Lastly, Blend uses automation. Blend is able to trigger emails to certain leads and lists of clients based on their behaviors. They give consumers the perfect message at the right time, without having to put in any extra time or effort. 

Data analytics

Data is more than just statistics and graphs. It tells a story about what marketing tactics are working. Blend uses the analytics function to monitor their campaigns and improve them over time.

By taking the time to organize their marketing strategy and monitor the analytics functions to improve communications, Blend has seen increased sales. 

For Blend Interactive, using our most advanced tools and integrations has helped them to reach award-winning success!

Gindo’s Spice of Life

The online marketing strategy of Gindo’s Spice of Life is as robust as its sauce selection. The team uses a multitude of features to help them reach their ecommerce and marketing goals.

Email marketing

Email marketing has the highest ROI of all marketing activities at $36:1. And Gindo’s takes full advantage of it.

Gindo’s uses their “Spicy Life” newsletter to share discounts, recipes, events, and volunteer activities with their customers.  And, about 12% of all people who open The Gindo’s emails click through the contents. At 7% higher than the industry average, this rate is phenomenal!

But the Gindo’s team knows that email marketing is only one piece of their online marketing strategy.

Social media

By connecting Gindo’s Facebook and Instagram accounts to their Constant Contact account, they are able to schedule their social media posts ahead of time  —  giving the Gindo’s team more time to focus on their customers and their product. 


Since the business bases success on sales of their product, Gindo’s also uses an ecommerce store that integrates with their Constant Contact account.

And, in the past 12 months, Gindo’s generated 434 orders and over $22K in sales through their ecommerce platform. 

Their January newsletter alone led to 30 orders and $1430.99 in sales  —  from one email!

Quite frankly, Gindo’s is killing it with their marketing strategy! Their use of marketing tools allows them to communicate often, and efficiently, with customers and increases their sales.

It’s no wonder they won an award!

Liliana’s Restaurant

Liliana’s Restaurant has been a Constant Contact customer since 2008 — talk about longevity! 

With so many years of experience using the Constant Contact marketing platform, Dave and the Liliana’s team have developed a strategy that helps them consistently reach their goals.

Email marketing

Their email marketing approach is all about engaging their contact base, and it works!

The number of people who open and click through their email is 3%, which is way above the industry average of 1%.

While it’s true, not everyone will open your email, don’t let these small percentages fool you. Email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing tactic. And a click-to-open rate over 2% is phenomenal!

Liliana’s has found that email is a great way to stay in touch with the people in the community and collecting emails is the first step in the process. To collect email addresses for their list, Dave and the team use sign-up forms on their website.

Email automation

Email automation is another tool to save time and continue your marketing strategy without thinking about it. The Liliana’s team uses email automation and sign-up forms hand-in-hand. 

One of the ways the Liliana’s team does this is by asking contacts for their birthday information right on the sign-up form.

By collecting this information, Dave and the team set up birthday email automations that send on the customer’s birthday with a special offer for free beignets within 30 days of the customer’s birthday. 

This is a great way to show customers that you’re invested in them, without investing a great deal of time. And who doesn’t love free food?

And that’s just one of the ways the Liliana’s strategy effectively engages their contact list.  By utilizing tools that help them save time, they have more time to focus on the restaurant itself.

Now there’s some award-winning smarts!

Give back to the community

So much of a small business’ brand is based on how the owner and employees of the company interact with their neighbors. You’re part of your community as a business and a consumer. 

Keeping a steady, and purposeful relationship with the community helps you connect with your audience — in a meaningful way.

Plus, doing good things just makes you feel good!

Blend Interactive

Mentorship and community growth

Blend Interactive, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is at the center of a growing tech community.

But when she started Blend Interactive, Karla didn’t have a local mentor in the tech industry that she could turn to. Now, she strives to be that mentor for other tech entrepreneurs. 

Karla believes it’s her obligation to give back to her community and share the knowledge that the Blend team has learned through their experience with running and growing a small business.

To do this, Blend offers two different opportunities for anyone looking to get started in the web development world. They call these “BLENDshipsBLIP (Blend’s Little Internship Program) and BEEP (Blend’s Education Exchange Program).

BLIP offers undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to understand what it’s like to work at a web development firm. 

BEEP offers mentorship between applicants and Blend team members, and is available to anyone. 

Blend values teaching others about web development. And the team is eager to offer advice and experience to those looking to get started — no matter where they are in their professional life. 

Blend Interactive’s vision is clear: To do good now, and help the future community shape the internet for good.

Gindo’s Spice of Life

Underserved populations and local farms

Good food shouldn’t be reserved for the wealthy or well-off.

Not only does Gindo’s provide awesome sauces for your kitchen, but the company also makes a large effort to support those in need. 

Getting SAUCE-y

That’s why Gindo’s partners with Students Advocating for Underserved Children Everywhere (S.A.U.C.E.). S.A.U.C.E. is a student advocacy group that assists children in need through community education and fundraising and volunteer efforts in local nonprofits such as Kids in Need and the Child Advocacy Center. 

Gindo’s partners with the students of S.A.U.C.E. to create three specialty hot sauces to support their mission. Proceeds of each sauce go directly to its corresponding organization on the bottle.

Gindo’s is passionate about helping children in need and they use their business to help them in a meaningful way.

But Gindo’s giving spirit doesn’t stop there.

Shopping local

Specialty hot sauces wouldn’t be here without their main ingredient — peppers! That’s why Gindo’s also makes sure to partner with local farms for the freshest and highest quality ingredients for their sauces. 

By teaming up with local farms, Gindo’s is refocusing its economic impact on the local community.

Partnerships with locally-owned farms encourage financial stability for farmers and help more small businesses do big things.

Lilliana’s Restaurant

Staying local, acting global

Small businesses have a local footprint, but they can also make an impact in global causes.


During the recent pandemic, Chef Dave created NOM NOM NOM boxes.

He connected chefs who had closed their restaurants with hungry customers in the area.

Each week, local farms provided local ingredients, chefs cooked delicious meals to be sent in NOM NOM NOM boxes, and customers received a great meal without visiting a restaurant. 

Proceeds from the boxes were used to feed children and families experiencing unemployment, food insecurity, and homelessness.


The conflict in Ukraine is ongoing and uncertain.

Liliana’s recognizes that many people in Ukraine need assistance, and so many more in the US are trying to help — in any way they can.

For Chef Dave and Liliana’s Restaurant helping meant deciding to make a popular Ukrainian dish, Varenyky. And the team is donating 100% of the proceeds of their sales of the dish to World Central Kitchens to help Ukrainian families stay healthy and avoid hunger. 

With every difficult moment, Chef Dave adapts and finds a way to fight food insecurity. And by recognizing a way to use the restaurant’s product for a good cause, Liliana’s is feeding people at home and abroad.

We’ll help put your plan in motion

Here at Constant Contact, we strive to help busy small business owners like you, by offering a platform that helps you manage your marketing activities so you can focus on what matters most — your product, your passion, and your community. 

By sharing these stories, we hope you will glean something that will help you with your small business.

And, we hope you will find the inspiration you need to start creating a marketing strategy that will guide you to increased profits or donations.

Set up the marketing tools and resources available now, so you can comfortably move forward with measurable goals and a plan to reach them.

Just like the businesses above, you can do this. And we’ll be here for you, every step of the way. Just let us know how we can help you.

Looking to succeed like these SBA winners? Here’s how we can help you get you there!