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.

annual68th fallfestival (1)

  • 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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Millionaire’s Digest: Spark A Viral Trend In Your Product

The #FlashdrivesForFreedom viral social media campaign article posted yesterday touched on each of the topics written by Millionaire’s Digest seen below.

I also would like to add share-ability to the list. Ask yourself… can this be easily shared with a friend or family member? Some things that touch on the share-ability of your promotional idea is covered via visibility, simplicity and accessibility.

If you’re looking to go viral with a product, service or idea check off these 6 items below when planning your promotion.

Now that you have that down packed, read the short list below:

Source: Spark A Viral Trend In Your Product (2 min read)

1. Social currency. Consumers are more likely to adopt a product if it makes them feel special or ahead of the curve. For example, Gilt’s exclusive sales helped it become one of the hottest online shopping sites.

2. Triggers. Products that catch on become part of our everyday lives, so successful products create reasons and reminders to return on a regular basis. For example, Facebook and Twitter drive you back to their sites every time they email you to say you have a new message or mention.

3. Emotional impact. People tend to evangelize a product if it affected them emotionally, whether it solved a stressful problem or brightened a bad day. For example, if a Buzzfeed article makes you laugh, you’ll likely share it with friends who need a lift.

4. Visibility. Giving a product a distinctive feature, such as a standout logo or color, helps consumers notice when others are using it. For example, you immediately recognize iPods because Apple made the headphones white when other companies all used black.

5. Practical value. A truly useful product that helps the user become more effective is more likely to be recommended often. For example, Evernote is very good at helping users remember and organize information, so it’s often recommended for research.

6. Stories. If people are going to share your product, they need to be able to tell its story. That can be as simple as a clear statement about what the product does, or as complicated as a really interesting origin story. For example, people who buy TOMS shoes love telling others how one pair is donated for every pair you buy.

(For Beauty, Book & Fashion Bloggers)
Article Credits Go Respectably to Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

#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.

fdff-brandlove

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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How to Attract Sponsors Online (Step-By-Step)

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
― Aristotle

Building your site’s domain authority (DA) can take months, even years. Once you gradually start to grow your site’s street cred. on the web, you’ll see followers subscribing and soon enough the sponsorship/partnership emails will come pouring in. Remember to take baby steps and whatever you do don’t get ahead of yourself. Try not to accept the smaller stuff and hold off for the larger partnerships, it will make your site a lot more valuable to companies if you don’t work with just anyone.

As a partnership coordinator, I usually won’t email those with sites or blogs which link to more than 45 pages (also called outbound links). In other words, try not to have tons of links everywhere. Keep it simple. Many bloggers shoot themselves in the foot by adding buddies lists, archive lists or tons of clickable sidebar buttons to their sidebars. Seriously, you’ll be surprised how fast outbound links will add up. Be patient and hold off false excitement from less-important sponsorships or partnerships and wait for the real deal. Wait for the business-changing emails that come around every once in a blue moon. Being picky with those you work with will make your site that much more valuable and opens much larger opportunities down the road. Great things come out of patience.

Let’s move on to the fun part of DA ranking– getting those “knocks on the door.”

Here’s a list of items you’re going to need to get the ball rolling:
A Computer
Social Media Profiles (ready-to-go)
A Timer
An Excel or Google Docs Spreadsheet
A large coffee

Forums are one of the first places I go for leads when I am looking to sponsor someone. Yeah, you heard right… forums. You know, those ancient beasts once top of the food chain on the web before the dawn of Reddit? I would have never guessed how valuable they would become to me as a partnership coordinator. So if you want to be noticed, these little online rooms are the place to be seen. I also look for blogs which allow guest posts too.

Let’s begin. Open up a new spreadsheet and title it “Forums To Contribute To.” As you go you can add on whatever columns pop in your head, but for now let’s just add the following sections: the forum’s name, URL, URL of posts, your posts’ date and a notes section. When you’re deciding where to post, there are a couple of factors you will want to take into account to help you get the most out of every effort. Look to comment on or post about a topic that has relevance, timeliness and lots of activity. Make sure that whatever you choose to discuss has to do with things your site can be associated with, this also gives you a little more credibility on the forum itself.

To get you started, here are some great places to find forums, posts and topics:
http://www.findaforum.net/
http://boardreader.com/
http://www.thebiggestboards.com/

You can also search Google by hitting the ‘Discussions’ tab on the results page and changing the search settings under ‘Search Tools’ from ‘All Discussions’ to ‘Forums.’

When you post on a forum most likely you will have to sign-up and log in as a new member. When you’re creating an account look for spots to link your website to the user profile. Also, see if there’s a signature option available. A lot of forums have caught on and banned outside links. If this is the case, I would suggest finding yourself a new site to contribute to. Afterall, the whole point is to gain recognition for your site isn’t it? Also, it’s not smart to go onto a forum and overly promote yourself, it’s annoying and you will be quickly removed from the discussion. Sometimes, you’ll even get blocked by the administrator. Really think about a question or comment you want to post. Ask yourself, “Will this contribute to the conversation?” Give honest, helpful answers and reference facts you throw their way. This is why forums are yet another place patience goes a long way.

After you organize your plan of attack and finally post, copy the URL to help you find it again in the future. Paste this under the ‘URL of Posts’ column. Don’t forget to add the date it was posted under ‘Post Date” too. You’ll want to keep tabs on these items every now and then. Plus, it helps you keep track of your progress. Visit this column every so often and respond to reactions or a contribute to a new discussion that may have developed based upon it.

When my well is dry I turn to Facebook and Instagram for new leads. Social media is another great way to get your site noticed by companies. Make yourself a business page on Facebook and double-check the category it’s labeled under to make it easier for those targeting a niche. Type your URL in the bottom-right section titled ‘About’ to guide them there. Your email should also be included in here to help those interested contact you right away. As a sponsor, nothing is worse than wasting several hours hunting down an email address. If it’s a particularly busy day, I won’t bother searching their business name or email. I rather pass on to the next person to be honest. I can’t stress enough how readily available your contact info and URL needs to be.

Same thing goes for Instagram, your email and URL should be in your bio. Across the board, I look mainly at the follower count on social. If the person I’m looking into doesn’t have a lot of followers and there’s not much engagement there, I will automatically assume their website reflects this. So remember to build your following, post regularly and engage your audience before you turn to these places for exposure.

Once your social platforms are up-to-speed and ready to go, join or ask to be invited to several private and public Facebook groups which associate with your site’s niche. These little groups are awesome online communities where people not only develop friendships but also find life-long fans. I’ve even seen partners of mine pass on exclusive sponsorship opportunities to others in their group.

You should get used to setting time aside every day to publicize your site on the internet. Get your handy-dandy timer out and set it to an hour and a half for the first couple of weeks and then to 45 minutes after you get the hang of it. Don’t stop until you hear the ring! It’s harder than ever to set out and achieve a task on modern technology, especially with the constant *pings* of notifications begging to distract you. This is where the large cup of coffee I suggested comes into play 😉

IT’S OKAY TO GO FOR WHAT YOU WANT. Need a product for your next project? Have a certain company in mind you’d do anything to associate your brand with? It’s forevernot too brazen to email them and ask for what you’re looking for. In fact, it makes the lives of marketing managers sooo much easier! We will love you for-ev-er.  If you’re confident in the exposure you can offer them, ask to speak with their marketing manager.

When you approach a marketing manager give them all the information you will think they’ll need to research how valuable you can be to them without sounding overzealous or arrogant. Enter the conversation with a can-do mentality and be confident in your worth!

Have you ever thought of a dream company you’d like to associate your website with? What would you ask them for?

Good luck, 

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