7 Fall Promo Ideas for Small Businesses

My favorite season is right around the corner! Fall is so close I can almost taste my mom’s homemade stuffing. For businesses, it’s a great time to empty your summer stock, draw in new customers and engage with the community. It’s also a fresh opportunity to get customers to fall in love with your small business just in time for the holidays (pun intended).

It’s always easy to throw together a seasonal sale, but I beg all of my clients to push further outside their comfort zones. As I like to say, “You have to think bigger to be bigger.” One of the most powerful target markets for small businesses exists just beyond their front door– their community (both online and local). People, by nature, tend to stick to what they know so become something they know!

If you’re a small (or medium) business owner I urge you stay away from a typical sale, and try two or more of the promotional ideas for fall I’ve come up with below:

  • Deliverables.
    • Get a small crew together to quickly bag or box a fun bundle of treats to send to two groups: neighbors and clients. Your message for clients should fall along the lines of a thank you and don’t be shy to hand write the note to add authenticity. All deliverables should include these items somewhere inside: branding and company logo, your address, website, a sincere message and an incentive for them to come into your shop. Here’s an example of a box USB Memory Direct and my team put together last year…

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  • Fall inspired email blast.
    • Put together an email list of contacts you’ve collected throughout the past couple of years. Reach out to them using a fall inspired graphic with some redeemables. This can include a coupon or other incentive to remind them of your product or service and get them to walk through your doors once more. My favorite, free program I use to quickly design an easy graphic is Canva. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to put together professional grade graphic art here.

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  • Social media engagement.
    • There are more ways to engage your audience on social media than announcing sales and new products. Keeping up with the seasons and posting shareable content keeps visitors viewing your profile. Start a fun, fall social media contest that requires participants to share the contest with others. You can pick winners by random selection, select winners yourself or by putting it up to a vote via a panel of judges or followers. Get even more creative by planning a fall inspired product photo shoot. Also, asking social media followers to repost an image of yours for charity donations around thanksgiving could get your company a lot of exposure online.
  • Sponsor/host a local event.
    • Grab your best employees and hit the hay. Ask around the town and find an event you can volunteer support at this fall. You could engage with the crowds by setting up a well designed, cut-out photo booth with your company logo that festival goers will take photos of and post online. If your company is having a hard time finding things to get involved in, try approaching nearby businesses, schools or churches for a co-hosting opportunity. You could plan a local pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted house, fall festival or charitable function.
  • Company holiday blog post or video.
    • Company blog posts or seasonal videos are a unique way to connect with current, previous and potential customers. Many do-it-yourself blog posts tend to get shared around the holiday season. Readers who share the post on their own sites are going to give you an SEO boost. If you’re willing to go the extra mile and put together a business video that stands out, you’re guaranteed to make an impact. Here are some video ideas from off the top of my head:
      1. Lip Sync a Halloween song with employees in costumes.
      2.  Re-create an iconic holiday movie scene or moment of the past year.
      3. Nostalgic holiday moments with employees, “What’s a traditional plate on your Thanksgiving table?”
      4. Create a mockumentary about that time you hired the headless horseman as a cashier.
      5. Thoughtfully plan out a helpful how-to video that customers can share on Facebook and email.
  • Redecorate your window store front.
    • I remember I worked for an adorable woman’s boutique at an outdoor shopping mall and they loved to decorate the store front for holidays and seasons. Why? BECAUSE IT WORKED. They knew their target market and drew in passing cars and people like honey to flies. Potential customers would stop in front of the window and take photos and post it on social media and walk in to see more. I highly suggest going the creative route on this one, and remember, less is more!
  • Specialty seasonal products or foods that get people talking.
    • It’s no secret that Starbucks is the king of this little marketing trick. What is your product? How can you fall-ify it? For Starbucks, they have made a home for pumpkin spice lattes. Also, M&M’s comes out with new flavors for trick-and-treat shoppers every year. Religiously enticing yearly purchasers with new products to buy. The latest seasonal offering from M&M’s has a cookies ‘n’ cream flavor and speckled shell. (Mars)

The latest seasonal offering from M&M's has a cookies 'n' cream flavor and speckled shell. (Mars)

Many of my examples have included generic fall holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, but there are so many more! So, I’ve composed a list for you of national observances and other holidays below that I have created promotional content for throughout my time as a marketing manager. Please keep in mind the list is not in no particular order.

  1. First Day of Fall
  2. Thanksgiving
  3. You’re Welcome Day
  4. Small Business Saturday
  5. Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)
  6. Black Friday
  7. Election Day
  8. Veterans Day
  9. Presidents’ Day
  10. Cyber Monday
  11. Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November)
  12. Military Family Appreciation Month (November)
  13. World Kindness Week: November 7-13
  14. National Suicide Prevention Week
  15. Hispanic Heritage Month
  16. National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Successful seasonal promotions take time to plan out thoughtfully, so don’t wait too late to begin the creative process. Luckily for you, I’ve planted the seed with this post just in time for you to prepare.

There’s a lot of money to made in the fall, but before you know it– it’s already Christmas! So, get to making your marketing plan for the season to reconnect with old customers and draw in new customers before the leaves turn orange.

Have fun,

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#FlashDrivesForFreedom Social Media Campaign at SXSW

Flash Drives for Freedom is a Human Rights Foundation and Forum 280 initiative aimed at informing and educating the citizens of North Korea through the use of USBs. Activist groups based in South Korea secretly bring flash drives into the country via balloons, rivers or land. They are loaded with current news, books and even entertainment like reality shows. Their end goal is to arm North Koreans with freedom of mind by providing them with facts that dispel Kim Jong-Un’s propaganda.

When I first started my position at USB Memory Direct we were already sponsors of the project. It wasn’t until Flash Drives for Freedom pitched a tent at SXSW 2017, one of the largest most influential conferences on the globe, that I became more actively involved with our partnership. To be honest, it has always been a dream of mine to work for a tech lead non-profit and our sponsorship gave me a little taste of what it would be like.

It’s not every day a small company gets the chance to be represented by the Human Rights Foundation in front of a massive crowd. So for this event, we thought big.

USB Memory Direct launched a viral social media campaign during the weekend of SXSW that would match any number of mentions using #FlashDrivesForFreedom with a USB donation to support the cause. As tens of thousands of conference goers passed by the booth of Flash Drives for Freedom, they either donated a memory stick of their own or took to social media and posted #FlashDrivesForFreedom to @USBMemoryDirect.

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The response was overwhelming. At first, we limited the mentions to Twitter but due to the activity on all platforms we opened the donations to include mentions on Facebook and Instagram as well. Within two days over 550 mentions were posted, reposted and shared. Since there were no limits set, we counted each and every hashtag @-ing our company. We also responded to each tweet with either a comment or a ‘like’ as a receipt of donation.

The campaign took off on the first Saturday of the event. I was out at lunch with my family when our social media manager, Jon, called me. He said our social was blowing up like never before. We were super excited! To keep the momentum going, we put together a list of political influencers keen on the North Korea debate to Tweet the campaign’s shareable at. The list included some Ted Talk activist, public officials and companies at the SXSW conference.

The initiative captured so much attention, that the Human Rights Foundation came out on top as the 3rd most loved brand at SXSW on Twitter alongside Nickelodeon, IBM Systems, Twitch and WWE.

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Creative Director, Doug Burnett, did a great job capturing the project in his recent video titled “Flash Drives For Freedom”. He is the brains behind the brand’s image and artwork. Check it out below or watch it here:

 

If you were given this same opportunity, what would you have done differently or added to this campaign to expose your company further?

Thanks for the click,

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A Hogwarts Event

Events are my absolute favorite. It’s so much fun bringing an idea to life. Recently, I had the privilege of planning a Harry Potter themed bachelorette party and it turned out totally AWESOME. Personally, I am a huge Potterhead so this event was a breeze, but I could definitely see how it could be challenging for those lacking a Hogwarts degree ;). Anyways, that’s who this blog post is for~

So, the plan included a 2-day 2-park pass to Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, FL. They’re home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I surprised the bride-to-be with our mini-vacation. The unveiling included a white balloon with a hand-drawn owl’s face on the front tied to an acceptance letter. I placed it on her bed for her to find a-la owl post. It was adorable and magical.

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For the letter, I put my own spin on a downloadable Hogwarts Google Document I found online. I visited a FedEx print shop and printed the letter on a long sheet of custom sized paper. Then, I filled a cookie sheet with dark roasted coffee to stain the paper. I placed the wet sheet on a tray and baked it at 250 degrees for about 8 minutes until it started to become a crispy, light brown.

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Since we didn’t want our apartment to accidentally burn to the ground, my boyfriend helped me burn the pages. He used a lighter to slightly burn holes and spots for an authentic, aged look. It was a little nerve-racking considering we only had one shot to get it right. There’s a trick to it… wet the tip of your finger with some saliva and outline the area around the spot you’d like burnt. This creates a ‘fence’ which keeps the flame from reaching other areas. Hold the paper about 3-4 inches from the flame, never keep the flame still by moving it around. When we had our first hole burn through, I freaked out but turns out it looks even cooler with some holes in it. We also burned the edges and very top of the paper too.

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You can view the letter here: Hogwarts Acceptance Letter PDF

I had a blast creating a fan-tastic Harry Potter scavenger hunt too. With some help from Reddit’s R/HarryPotter I got some great tips about the park only true Potterheads would pick-up on. For example, in the movie Hagrid teaches his students to bow before they ride the Hippogriff. Since there is a ride called ‘Flight of the Hippogriff’ they suggested I add a bow in the game.

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You can view the scavenger hunt here: Scavenger Hunt PDF

For the scavenger hunt, I created a 3-section brochure mimicking Marauder’s Map that begins with an ‘I solemnly swear IMG_0078I am up to no good’ first page. It also included a House Points section where each person marks their points once a task is completed to make it competitive. Since we lacked a talking sorting hat, each witch was assigned to their appropriate house through mystery cupcakes!

Yes. CUPCAKES.

Because we all know cupcakes automatically make everything soo much sweeter.

I filled a couple of red velvet cupcakes with colored frosting in the Hogwarts house colors (yellow, red, green and blue). On top, I used white frosting and multicolored sprinkles. That way, the girls had to bite into the cupcakes to see which house they got. They loved the idea…

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I introduced the scavenger hunt and our matching T-shirts in a wooden box addressed to the bride from Hagrid. I ordered the most perfect matching tees from EtsyScreen Shot 2017-06-03 at 7.28.02 PM (check the image on the right). The bride’s shirt said “I Found A Catch” and the bridesmaid shirts said “She Found A Keeper.” It was a charming pun on Quidditch.

I highly suggest tank tops, it helps keep you cool in the unforgiving sunshine state. FYI stay away from Orlando, Florida from May to July unless you enjoy heat strokes – wink. To add a magical touch to the presentation, I stuck some 3-D spider stickers diagonally across the top of the box to tie in with the movie.

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We topped off our mimosas, hidden in disposable coffee cups and headed out to the parks!

The Double Tree by Hilton Hotels at the entrance of Universal Studios made it super easy to get to the parks and back with their free shuttle bus. We also got a free (and very delicious) breakfast every morning. Needless to say, it really helped us stay on budget. The hotel was on the same street, directly in front of Universal Studio’s entrance. We could have even walked there if we wanted to. The bride loved the newly-renovated rooms with a view of the parks from the 7th story. The restaurants and Starbucks on the bottom floor were perfect for some late night drinks and early morning frappuccinos!

It was so convenient that we never had to really leave the Hotel or drive. It was absolute heaven. Plus, we got a great deal by booking through Expedia. The only thing they don’t tell you is that parking is about $20 per night…

At first, we went back and forth on buying fast pass tickets, but we are so happy we decided on purchasing them. Some lines run as long as an hour and forty-five minutes. With the fast pass tickets, the longest we waited was about 35 minutes! If you purchase fast passes you will have to carry them around with you throughout the park and show it at each ride. They are little pieces of paper that are way too easy to lose.

If we hadn’t bought our Hogwarts house lanyards we most likely would have lost that $110 paper receipt within the first hour. Since it has a clear holder, the park attendants were able to quickly scan the passes without having us go through the hassle of taking out our passes. We also bought cute pins to decorate our lanyards with. Everyone at the parks had their lanyards completely filled with the coolest pins.

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As a Florida resident and frequent theme park goer I rarely purchase luxury extras, but from this day forward I am forever a fast pass gal. emojinails

Have any suggestions for a Harry Potter themed party?

Love,

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