Fall isn’t just about cooler weather, NFL games and pumpkin spice lattes. It’s also a fantastic business marketing opportunity to attract new customers and make your existing ones feel special during the run-up to the holiday season.
The best marketing efforts are ones that are tailored to your unique business and clientele. But whether you’re a brick-and-mortar storefront or an e-commerce business, these fall marketing ideas can help spark your creativity and get your inspiration flowing. It’s all about infusing fall-themed ideas into the marketing strategies you’re already leaning on to meet your specific business goals — and have a little fun while doing it.
Fall-specific content marketing
In case you haven’t already embraced it, content marketing is an essential part of an effective overarching marketing plan. The idea is to create helpful, original written or visual content that appeals to your key demographic and helps make their lives a little easier. Building trust through engaging, useful content can be a powerful tool for cultivating brand loyalty.
To put a fall twist on your small-business’s content marketing strategy, think of your unique brand identity. If you run a pastry shop, a fun post about DIY fall desserts, for example, could get a lot of traction. Meanwhile, a small accounting firm might focus on September tax deadlines. You can publish this content on your business website and use email marketing software to better share it with your audience.
Fall contests and giveaways
Fall marketing ideas are designed to engage your audience. If you have a physical space, hosting a fall-themed event could be an effective way for customers to get to know your business. For example, a fall-themed raffle that donates a portion of the proceeds to a local charity or food bank ties nicely into Thanksgiving.
Your social media channels are also ideal platforms for hosting fall contests and giveaways. One creative hack for gaining new followers is to prompt folks to follow your account or tag a friend in order to participate. From there, you can structure the promotion itself in any number of ways — from a fall-inspired Instagram photo contest to an interactive Facebook Live event. Just be sure to publicly announce the winner.
Get your business in the fall spirit
Storefronts have a big opportunity to have fun with this season. Adorning your business’s exterior with festive decorations like haystacks and pumpkins is like an open invitation to the community. If local rules allow, consider a sidewalk chalkboard easel and enlist an artistic employee to style it with decorative messages and art — these nice little touches help humanize your brand. The same can be said for small businesses that welcome trick-or-treaters.
Those with an online presence can update their website with fall features and news updates. Take it a step further by creating fall editions of popular branded merchandise. You can elevate things like T-shirts, accessories and coffee mugs that already bear your logo by giving them a fall twist and selling them online.
Create special fall products or services
We’ve all seen marketers who’ve had success putting the scarcity principle to work in their favor. The idea, popularized by sales and marketing expert Dr. Robert Cialdini, suggests that consumers are more likely to be attracted to items that are only available in limited quantities.
Take a close look at your products and services and ask yourself where you might add some unique fall offerings. Introducing seasonal fall products that are exclusive to this time of year could very well drive consumer interest if marketed appropriately.
Design a fall-themed direct mail campaign
Sending things by mail is somewhat of a lost art these days, which is probably why people get a kick out of receiving items in their mailbox. To add value to your direct mail campaign, include a coupon that’s only valid for a limited time. Alternatively, you could simply highlight a fall-themed sale your business is running.
This can be a great local marketing strategy, and software and services like the U.S. Postal Service can help you create a mailing list based on location and demographic data.
Infuse fall energy into your social media channels
Keep the fall season in mind when building your social media strategy. A series of fall-inspired Instagram stories or TikTok videos, for example, could pique interest and drive people to your small business. Even if you don’t have specific fall products to promote, creating entertaining content across the channels most relevant to your target audience can help build brand awareness and attract new followers who could turn into future customers. After all, effective marketing requires playing the long game.
Launch a Thanksgiving charity initiative
Ideally, social responsibility is something that’s already woven into your business’s core values. But if not, it’s never too late to integrate it, especially since more and more consumers are expecting brands to be socially responsible.
The fall season of giving is a particularly great time to engage your community and do some good. Ideas could include hosting a raffle and donating a portion of the proceeds to a nonprofit, or offering discounts to customers who bring in canned goods to be donated to a local food pantry. Think about your community needs and how your business can be of service.
Put a fall spin on your loyalty program
When it comes to fall marketing ideas, your company’s loyalty program might be a hidden opportunity. Whether your program is based on punch cards, a mobile app or scannable membership cards, you could offer additional incentives for signing up during the fall season. The same goes for giving existing members the chance to earn more rewards during the fall months.
For example, those who shop during a special fall promotion could unlock additional points or other discount opportunities, depending on how your loyalty program is structured. The goal is to build brand devotion and give customers another reason to patronize your business.
Cross-promote with fall in mind
Piggybacking on another small business’s fall marketing efforts could serve you both well. The business you team up with can be within the same space or in another industry altogether. What matters most is coordinating your messaging and sharing resources. This can ultimately help introduce your brand to new customers.
Some cross-promotion opportunities may include bundling your fall products or services together, exchanging autumn-inspired guest blog posts or promoting one another on social media. Co-hosting a fall event or charity fundraiser together could be another effective way to get in front of a new audience. Consider splitting the cost of an ad to promote the partnership.
Leverage back-to-school energy
The end of summer kicks off the back-to-school season, which means most families are stocking up on school supplies and freshening up their wardrobes and accessories.
Usher in the season with some marketing initiatives that are geared toward local schools. Sponsoring a sports team, putting ads in the high school paper or setting up a booth at a local university campus are natural ways to capitalize on the back-to-school energy while also promoting your business.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.