Crikey, summer’s over already? It wasn’t long ago I was in flip-flops and planning the next body boarding session with the kids.
Hopefully though you’ll have read my last blog post on summer marketing and made the best of the time (you didn’t burn the sausages, did you?)
And now fall has literally fallen on us, it’s time to keep on top of marketing and plan the next couple of months. That way you’ll keep your audience interested and less likely to think about competitors.
Some SMEs I speak with tend to lose sight of this period. Once summer’s gone, they start looking at how best to capitalise on Christmas. That’s not a bad thing of course, but if you can push the autumn period as well, you’ll increase conversions during this time and have the perfect springboard for Christmas activity.
So how do you get the autumn vibe into your marketing mix? Easy! Autumn’s not just about leaves cluttering your gutters and darker evenings – it brings a host of imaginative and engaging ideas to get your message out there and boost your business.
So grab a coffee, read my ten tips on autumn marketing, and see how they fit into your strategy. If they don’t, they’ll give you inspiration on other ideas that will suit your business. So here goes:
1. Bring on the colour: While it may feel dark and gloomy outside, when I think of autumn, it’s colour, colour, colour. There are amazing browns, reds, greens and oranges you can use to boost your profile. Talk with your graphic designer about incorporating this mix into your design style, campaign or social media.
The colour palette is vibrant and inspiring and will connect with your audience in a positive way. And it’s a great way to freshen up your design look before Christmas hits. Use Pinterest to get ideas for styling – it’s a great tool so use it to your advantage.
2. Money’s too tight to mention: People have spent on the summer holiday, kids have new school uniforms, and the big spend of Christmas is looming. So how can you make additional sales now when money seems tight?
Yes, people do reign in spending, but there’s a great opportunity here. Know your customers pain-point and understand they’re saving again. So offer a discount on a product and make them feel they’re smart purchasing. Also, if they’ve seen a particular product earlier in the year and know it’s on offer – then you’ll no doubt ‘rake in’ extra sales (ha, ha).
3. Social media contest: As I said earlier, autumn brings many thoughts of colours, crisp mornings and comfy jumpers. But what are your customers thinking and what do they like about autumn?
With so many ideas, this is a perfect opportunity to run a social media competition. Get entries for favourite autumn scene, food, destination or just funny fall thought. Whatever it is, create the interest, connect with your followers and you should also generate more leads.
4. From scary to sales – it’s Halloween: Halloween has grown steadily over the years to become a significant date in the selling calendar – whether you’re into clothing or food, if it has a connection with the good old scary, it makes a great marketing theme.
So make sure you exploit this time by creating your own campaign. It could be a ‘frighteningly good deal’ on a product/service, best ghoul costume competition on social media or create a special Halloween drink/dish at your restaurant.
I promoted a housing development once and ran a Halloween event to open a show home. We got plenty of kids (with their house-hunting parents) to come along – and at the end three homes sold.
So with just a little thought and planning – your Halloween will attract plenty of vampires – for all the right reasons.
5. Don’t ‘leaf’ it – go to an event: Autumn brings with it plenty of events and festivals, so it’s the ideal time to get out there and know your customers better. Having a friendly chat with your audience is great for a host of reasons – brand building, knowing what your customer likes (and doesn’t), new product/service ideas and trends.
So do some research and see what event is best aligned with your business. It may seem like a lot of work just for a day or more, but the effort will be really worth it. You can use the information you found to form into your strategy for the coming year.
6. Lose an hour – but gain a bargain: The onset of autumn brings the thoughts of early, dank evenings – sometimes it feels as though the day never starts! Use this negative to your advantage by running a campaign.
If you’re a restaurant, try “Lose an hour – gain a drink on us!”. Or maybe a consultancy “Lose an hour but gain 3 hours free consultancy with us!”
7. Your window to the world: If you’re a retail outlet, autumn is a fantastic opportunity to get creative and change your window display. Get the best from the colour palette, use leaves, wellington boots – a touch of humour too always works.
And don’t forget your website and social media. These are online shop fronts and should be treated the same as the High Street. So get them to match.
8. Get sporty with sponsorship: Lots of sports clubs and groups start again following the summer break, so look to these for sponsorship opportunities. Find the best club and target audience, and if it fits with yours, then sponsoring them for the season can boost your PR opportunities and lead generation.
Sponsorship can be seen as a slow burn, so look at it from the long-term and you’ll reap the benefits.
9. Make Black Friday a bonus: Black Friday, held on the last Friday in November, has quickly established itself on the campaign calendar. It can be a welcome boost even before the Christmas sales, so run a campaign and make the most of it. You could run heavy discounts on selected items or even on old stock so you can clear the shelves for Christmas.
Make the campaign punchy with plenty of urgency – it gets the buyer interested more quickly and likely to purchase.
10. Get wrapped up for winter: My final tip for autumn? It has to be winter! Use these months to prepare your marketing for the Christmas period. We all know it’s a busy time so make the most of it. Start planning your campaign now. Have a theme, organise product, photography, marketing spend and campaign channels.
Why not try out new marketing tactics too to use in winter? If they fail, then it won’t be in the crucial Christmas period. If they work, then happy days and incorporate it into your Christmas campaign.
You’ll also want many leads on your database for Christmas. So during autumn, make sure you get new sign ups. Is your website doing enough to encourage leads? Or if you have a retail business, can you capture names and email addresses in store? Think about where you interact with your audience and start filling that database.
Last point here is November. I’ve worked on many retail clients and November has actually been as busy as December. Sounds strange I know, but perhaps people like to organise Christmas early. So your Christmas campaign should be well underway in November so you get those early shoppers.
Lastly: If you get an eye-catching autumn look for your business, develop social media with vibrant autumn ideas, and organise campaigns to drive sales into December, you’ll have a boost to your last quarter and be smugly smiling at those leaves blocking your gutters!