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…

Halloween Candy Box 2

  • 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,

Script3transp

#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.

Flash Drives For Freedom Tweet

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,

Script3transp

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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,

Script3transp

 

3 Simple and Easy Ways To Improve Your Media Pitch

Every business benefits from media coverage — it all starts with a pitch. 

When sent to the right people, a media pitch is a great way get a company press coverage. There are a lot of factors you have to get just right for a successful pitch well-delivered. Make your email stand out by simplifying it, doing your research, and making your story newsworthy. Once you organize a targeted list of media contacts, draft an email that’s easy-to-read with a conversational tone. Avoid industry jargon and complex vocabulary at all costs. Only use an email template as the backbone of the pitch. Remember, each and every email should be personalized to its intended media contact.

There’s an art to pitching. After spending a few years at public relations and marketing companies, here are a few ways I learned to bring email pitches to life:

  1. Do your research.

Do some stalking before you send them an email. Pitch smarter, not harder. Instead of blasting tons of journalists with cold emails, find a way to make their job easier by fitting your pitch into their editorial calendars. For example, if it’s Christmas time and you’re trying to sell a story about toys in the subject line relate it to an article they have posted the year before which had toys in it. Usually, around this time they write about Christmas wishlists or the hottest toys of the season.

Do some digging. First, figure out every outlet they contribute to. Glance over their articles, do they write about similar products or companies you’re pitching? Next, figure out what they are talking about on social media. Journalists have never been easier to follow. Use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get a feel for what they are like and how to best communicate with them. Don’t be shy to comment on their posts either, building a relationship with target journalists helps your company down the road!

2. Make it newsworthy.

Journalists are always looking for the next great story.

Although companies may go through a couple of big changes and partnerships a year, they don’t always correlate with trends and current events. See what’s currently trending and tie the pitch into it. This will help bring it some positive attention. I use Google Trends and trending items on Twitter and Facebook to help me come up with some ideas.

Google Trends:

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Sneak peek Google’s insights. Track big events and discussions with Google Trends.

 What’s trending on Facebook:

FacebookTrending
Scroll down to see what’s trending on the sidebar section labeled “Trending.”

What’s trending on Twitter:

Twitter Trends
My favorite way to catch up on all things trending!

3. Keep the email short and sweet!

The subject line should be juicy and the receiver should be able to get the gist of your pitch by reading it. In the body of the email always remember less is more. Sorry to break it to you, but journalists don’t read pitches word for word. They have become masters of skimming. Only about 1-2 sentences will actually by absorbed and if they’re not interested in those couple of lines, it’s on to the next. Writing less text gives them more time to soak in what you’re presenting. Limit your pitch to 3 short paragraphs ranging from 2 to 3 sentences each.

In the first paragraph, give them a reason why they should care about your story. Give them some insider information and make them want to be involved in what’s going on.

Make a connection. The next paragraph should show them you’ve done your homework. Refer to previous articles they have written and highlight topics they are passionate about. Also, tell the journalist why you’ve specifically chosen them to break the story. Feel free to bring up titles of previous articles they’ve written.

The last couple of sentences should be a call to action. Tell the journalist what to do with the information. If they contribute to a couple outlets, indicate which outlet you would like to see the story breaking on. If you’re interested in all their platforms say that so. You can also use the last paragraph to suggest an interview, invite them to tour the facilities or give them a time and date to a press conference.

Tip: If you’re launching a product, offer to send them a sample! They love getting stuff and it’s so much easier for them to review it when they have actual experience with the product. If it’s a new menu item, have them stop by for a comped meal. Add this in the last paragraph (it’s a call to action). Score.

Once your email has been created, attach a full press kit for their convenience. I use Canva.com to make eye-catching kits that are simple are enjoyable for others to view. Also, make sure to include several high-resolution photos they can use in articles. Provide a press release if you have one too. The more information they have, the better! After you proofread, as you would with anything else, have another set of eyes review the pitch. I like to ask those proofreading my pitches to relay a couple of points they drew from the email. Do they understand the point you’re trying to get across? Is it newsworthy? If they were the journalist, would they understand the call to action?

Then, proofread it again.

Any little mistake can totally throw away your credibility. I highly recommend installing the Grammarly extension on Chrome for this. It has saved my life about a million times. It’s a 100% free grammar checker that not only reviews spelling errors but sentence structure and punctuation too.

And WHATEVER you do, make sure their names are correct! Even outlets spell the names of their own journalists incorrectly. Cross check their names via social media, Google and Cision.com (if you have access to it).

Tip: If you’re working on a spreadsheet, use the highlighter in black to fill cells after you email contacts. That way you don’t accidentally email the same person twice or worse… call them another name with a different email pitch.

Wow, I even had a mini-panic attack just writing that!

Have any tips or tricks that you’ve learned from pitching to media contacts? Share it in the comments below 🙂

Happy pitching,

Script3transp

First Blog Post

Hi there, my name is Chelsea! I’m a 25-year-old online graduate student living in Miami working two jobs and taking on fun side gigs. Most know me as the Marketing Manager of Planet Stone Inc. and Marketing Partnership Coordinator of USB Memory Direct. They are both multi-million dollar companies that I love representing and flaunting around events and the internet to build SEO and brand awareness. I also love all things Star Wars, Harry Potter, Disney and tennis.

So, for my first EVER post on here, I’m going to be laying an ugly truth on you. Marketing is not my dream job, actually, it’s nobody’s dream job really. It’s kind of like a wand in Harry Potter, it chooses you. More accurately, it’s like Ron Weasley’s first wand when it breaks. As in it never does what it’s supposed to do and most of the time backfires on you. Yet for the rare occasions when it does work, Ron looks at it with pride and stubbornly keeps using it for another chance at a 1% success rate.

Chances are if you came across this blog you’re a stubborn wizard too or you’re looking to get into the field. Either way, I’ve got some day-one ground rules for you:

  1. Get mind-numbingly used to rejection. This goes for any marketing position out there. Get used to the idea of putting yourself on the front lines at the mercy of a stranger on the other side of the table.
  2. Brush-up on those notes you took in that one psychology course required in college. It’s 95% mind games and 5% apologizing constantly. Um, HELLO?! Why aren’t psychology courses the main curriculum for a marketing degree? Wake up professors, every time you get annoyed at a marketer I hope you remember it’s all your fault you didn’t teach us how to make it enjoyable for others. If you could take a few CIA interrogation psychology courses that would also help you tremendously *wink*.
  3. Get organized. Labels, post-it notes, and agendas are your new (and now only) best friends. Sometimes you will be commuting with more people than you know what to do with and people slip through the cracks all the time. For example, on an average week I communicate with more than 150 people. Ever used the Gmail color-coded labels before? I use about five to six labels per conversation. So yah… you get the idea.
  4. Practice positivity. Just like you have to exercise more when you land an office job to promote physical health, you also have to practice more positive thoughts to promote mental health. No, marketing jobs won’t make you looney. I’m just bringing it up because it took me awhile to learn not to put my health on the back burner for work. When you clock out, take a second to clock out mentally too. Don’t bring the stress vibes home and if you do, find a way you can release them like a good cardio sesh.
  5. Make friends in the workplace. Marketing employees and managers are a dime a dozen. Making ties with those you work with only helps your chances of sticking around. Just don’t force it, no one likes the new guy who tries too hard. Share a thought out-loud or email them a question about payday dates or nearby restaurant suggestions. Sometimes around lunch, I’ll ask if anyone is in the mood for the place I’m going to eat at. I’ve made a great group of friends at work this way!

I can guess what you’re thinking already, “so then why do you it?”

Before I answer this here’s a little more insight about me: I’m aggressively competitive, annoyingly motivated, strictly results driven and I am constantly striving to be better than I was the day before. In other words, I enjoy self-torture.

So to answer your question, it’s what I’m made to do :). Like I said, I didn’t find it– it found me and I fought it for years before I learned to embrace it. I’m still learning so much and I just started graduate school in international marketing at Boston University.

Stay tuned for some fun posts about the new things I’m learning, events I’m planning and the fun projects I’m working on.

Try to keep up!