Summer is officially over, and you aren’t quite ready to set up your Christmas display. How can you keep your marketing momentum going for the next few weeks?
“There are so many great things to celebrate during the fall,” notes Lindsay Scherr, director of business development at Endlessly Organic, an organic-produce buying club.
Your customers may be adjusting to school routines, planning for Halloween or Thanksgiving, or thinking of ways to enjoy the outdoors before it gets too cold. “All of these are opportunities to reach out to your client base,” Scherr says.
Here are six ideas to help keep sales going strong this fall.
1. Go back to school again. Offer school-centered deals and promotions. If you own a clothing store, consider hiring college students to promote fall clothing, suggests Suzanne Forte, a PR consultant who works with small-business owners.
For example, you could pay undergrads to wear the store’s clothing on campus. (You could also offer them a discount or give them a few items.)
If there isn’t a university in your area, try reaching out to the younger crowd. “High school students enjoy dressing for success and could also drive your autumn sales,” says Forte.
2. Support local sports. Sponsor nearby high school football games, which can be huge in the fall months, suggests Sara Soseman, owner of Pepper Event Talent and Staffing, which provides personnel for marketing events and promotions.
To get involved, contact the schools. “Large schools with successful athletics [programs] usually have established sponsorship packages available,” Soseman says. Smaller schools may be able to create one to accommodate your request.
As a sponsor, offer special deals for fans. Pass out samples, coupons, or free T-shirts to those who come to the game.
3. Think themes. If you have a storefront, consider putting up decorations in fall colors. Spas and restaurants could offer special seasonal menus.
“Most convention and visitors bureaus launch seasonal campaigns to capture travel business,” Forte says. So, after you’ve set up an autumn-related theme at your location, ask your convention and visitors bureau about ways to partner and promote your business. Your local bureau may list your business on a page of its website, include information about your company in its travel guides and campaigns, and refer travelers to your location.
4. Say “thank you.” Send out Thanksgiving cards in the third week of November to current and past customers, suggests Sylvan Noel, founder and CEO of Tycoon Marketing Systems.
Along with your note, consider including an offer that encourages the customer to bring in a friend or neighbor. For instance, make a coupon that’s valid for 20 percent off one order from your store, but if the customer comes in with a friend, they each receive 30 percent off both their orders.
“Include a clearly marked expiration date, so that it jumps to the forefront of people’s minds for holiday shopping,” Noel advises.
5. Offer space to community groups. If you have extra room in your business, consider opening it up to local residents. For instance, if you run a cafe or a business center, try hosting study sessions for students. If you own a youth fitness center, offer some of your space for PTA meetings during the week.
As well, make special deals available for those who come in. For a retail shop, run a 20 percent discount on purchases for those who use your space. If you have a fitness center, offer visitors a free session or a discount on a monthly membership.
6. Keep customers in the loop. “Our company sells organic produce, so we are informing our members of healthy snacks for school, how to get over your sugar craze at Halloween, and some amazing vegetarian recipes for Thanksgiving,” Scherr says.