Unless you live in a place like San Diego or Miami, chances are you’re gearing up for cooler weather, colorful leaves, and pumpkins and corn in the grocery store. But regardless of where you live, you’re more than likely gearing up to send the kids back to school. In some places, many kids have already gone back!
Kids heading back to school usually means two things: ubiquitous back to school ads and parents spending money! But there’s an important tactic in back to school marketing that all businesses can utilize in order to increase sales, gain new customers, create social media conversions, and take advantage of seasonal marketing.
It’s important to take advantage of seasonal marketing to serve up continually fresh offerings for your consumers, find new customers, and offer time-sensitive incentives to get people in your door.
Planning For the Season
Experian.com has a fantastic post about back to school marketing that lists several key reasons why it’s important to plan ahead. While their example is tied solely to back to school marketing, their point extends to something much larger.
While we all know fall means kids are heading back to school, there are lots of other opportunities for marketing changes that come along with the prettiest season. Football season is starting, fashion is changing, the holidays are approaching, and the weather is getting cooler. It’s absolutely necessary to think about what’s changing in the upcoming season, and how that change will affect your audience, your customers, and your potential consumers.
I’ve always been a huge fan of infographics. My brain tends to ingest information significantly better when there’s a graphical representation accompanying information (and okay, maybe pretty colors help too), so I found this graphic from Marketing Savant to be a perfect accompaniment to the idea of planning for the season. Take a look: there’s more than just one change, and more than just one promotion that can work well with a seasonal change.
Bonus: Just like you’ve got to plan your clothes for the fall, it’s important to plan your marketing for the fall. Fellow ContentEqualsMoney.com staff writer, Ben, writes a wonderful post about what your content marketing can learn from your closet.
Offer Seasonal Incentives
Seasons change, and they definitely have end-points. Your incentives should too. I was discussing marketing campaigns with a friend of mine who works at a high-end spa in North Carolina. She detailed how as summer turns to fall and winter, the spa gets significantly busier, and she sees her schedule fill up with more and more massages.
I noticed a similar trend when I used to wait tables. While people enjoy staying active and being outside of the home in the summer, the fall and winter bring more people out of the house for purpose-specific activities, such as dining out or getting a massage.
This folds in two important aspects. First, planning for the season as I mentioned above, but also in taking advantage of the attitudes of your customers and potential new business. In the fall, people historically spend more. This data (apologies for its unwieldy nature, but it illustrates my point) sourced from the St. Louis Federal Reserve backs that up; people historically spend more in the fall than the two quarters that precede it, even when there are annual drops in numbers. Second, it reinforces the necessity to position your brand above others in your marketplace.
One way you can accomplish this is through seasonal incentives. Just as my friend sees more people in her spa, and my old restaurant saw more diners in the fall, our businesses took advantage of the prevailing attitudes to offer limited-time-only specials and coupons to bring people in the door. Speaking specifically to the spa perspective, I found this post from Futurelmt.com discussing how to make the most of seasonal marketing for your massage business.
Point 1 directly applies to what I mentioned about people spending more. But if you skip to point 4, you will see that a seasonally related incentive with a hard end-date helps to create a sense that people need to visit your business sooner, rather than later. Not only does this help bring established customers in the door, it helps convert early-stage buyers into those that are ready to purchase right away.
Bonus: The article I linked from Futurelmt.com lists three other very important things to consider when preparing and engaging in a seasonal marketing campaign: consistency, predictability, and referrals. With a consistent seasonal strategy every year, you have the ability to build regular, loyal customers who look forward to similar promotions and events every year. Being predictable doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone knows what to expect from you, you can still offer fresh marketing collateral, promotions, sales, and events while recycling basic principles from previously successful campaigns. (Please note: this won’t work for every brand, but you shouldn’t be afraid.) Referrals come when you build fans and loyalty, which you can help generate through consistency and predictability. They also come through a good seasonal marketing campaign that generates buzz for your brand.
Marketing Strategy Consistency
Slightly different from offering consistency from year to year is having consistency in your marketing strategy. This means that you make sure that all parts of your marketing campaign are reflecting the same value propositions. You can’t send an email out offering one special, while your social feeds advertise two others that are completely different.
This sort of synergy between your marketing outlets is imperative. While not just applicable to e-commerce businesses, I stumbled upon a great article from practicleecommerce.com that details several useful tips on establishing, and successfully running, your seasonal marketing campaign.
As you read through the article, pay special attention to their special headline about “A Better Marketing Campaign.” Notice they use the phrase “Integrated Marketing Campaign.” This is another term for the synergistic marketing strategy I mentioned earlier. The author perfectly describes the necessity of having a consistent messaging strategy and theme across all your platforms. From promotional banners to display ads, from SEM campaigns to email campaigns, social media strategies and on-location events, marketing for fall requires consistency across your platforms.
Bonus: A great way to ensure consistency across all your platforms is by creating and utilizing creative content that ties your messaging together, and helps to generate buzz around your brand for those seasonal transitions. Look to use great content as a guide for your messaging, a way to help all your other marketing platforms adhere to the strategy. If you develop rich content to anchor your whole marketing strategy, you can think of it as the keystone to your entire marketing arm. One piece keeps all the others in place.
September is just around the corner; leaves are getting ready to change and the school bells are getting ready to ring. But it’s not too late for you to deftly plan, organize, and enact a great fall seasonal marketing campaign. Big retailers are doing it, and small local businesses are doing it, so you should too. It’s important to keep content fresh and new by taking advantage of a new marketing strategy. Adjusting your strategy for the season means that as the leaves fall, you can help your sales rise.
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