Posted on: September 18, 2023
Across September and October, many businesses focus on supercharging their marketing for a successful final quarter of the year. There will also be those looking to forge solid foundations to get 2024 off to a strong start.
So, to help your Autumn marketing and business development plans bring the progress you want, here are 15 pick-and-mix ideas to choose from…
1. Personalised communications
Quality over quantity is more likely to get your business noticed by your target audience. The more personalised communications feel to the recipient, the more they’ll engage with them. So craft highly targeted communications (such as email, direct mail, ads) to small niches of customers or customer profiles. These should reflect their preferences and interests and tailor promotions to them.
2. Price promotions
The challenging economy means cost-cutting and economising are on many agendas. Price-related promotions and discounts will likely be a big feature of campaigns this year as businesses try to poach customers. For those unable to discount heavily, it will be important to communicate the added value wrapped around your product/service offering. Remember, discounting shouldn’t eat into your profitability to the point that it creates problems longer-term.
3. Solutions to immediate pain points – appeal to customers’ reactive thinking
A side effect of the current economic uncertainty is that customers are likely to park bigger purchases. These are likely to be those focused on longer-term or more strategic aims. Instead, many will limit expenditure to the essentials and most urgent.
In response to this, focus your marketing on how you help with those essentials, for example, solving any immediate pain points or challenges your target audience faces. Also, display a sensitivity to the difficulties people are facing currently.
4. Short, punchy and visual
Customers’ digital information overload means many businesses complain about how tough it is to get marketing messages seen. If your product or service is complex to promote, break down your descriptions and promotions into bite-sized chunks. Go for short and punchy messages rather than lengthy descriptions.
Focus on the small steps you can help people with. In doing so, use visuals or short videos instead of the written word where possible. Make the messaging clear, not cryptic, and relate it to your target audience’s specific needs and issues. Tap into any seasonal buyer behaviour trends in your customer base to show more relevancy.
5. Tools, tips, insights
Another byproduct of the difficult trading conditions is a desire to find quick wins to achieve targets. Your target audience will, therefore, appreciate any tools, tips, guides, insights and factsheets you produce to help with a particular question, challenge or opportunity. In doing so, remember the point about being short, punchy and visual if you want a good take-up.
6. Woo word of mouth
One of the best promotional channels is your delighted customers. With people trusting the opinion of professional contacts and friends over other sources, it’s important that your happy customers are singing your praises and forwarding fresh customers your way. Consider ‘recommend a friend’ and other referral-stimulating initiatives to boost enquiries this Autumn. Also, encourage customers to review and leave testimonials on your business’s key social proof channels.
With events now running online and in person, consider which format is best for your audience if you’re looking to host events this quarter. Although many prefer being back face-to-face, the reality is time commitments may make an online event more practical. If your audience is widely dispersed and travel is an issue, opt for the online route again. Remember that these must be shorter and highly interactive to avoid digital fatigue. If you’re running webinars or attending online conferences, be prepared to adapt your approach to encourage people to sign up and stay tuned in.
For truly successful face-to-face events, remember to ensure your team follows up with the delegates who attend. More ideas on that here.
8. Seasonal treats
Many people take comfort from positive messaging and imagery associated traditionally with the Autumn season. Use the season’s colours and treats to show your currency, relevance and positivity. More ideas here.
9. Loving your locality
‘Shopping local’ and supporting local communities is still a powerful draw for potential customers. In an online world, location can seem irrelevant, but it can help to emphasise your presence in local searches for your products and services. Make more of your Google My Business listing – sharing news and updates to show you’re active and open.
10. Toughen key client defences
It’s often the case that a small number of key client accounts bring in the bulk of a business’ revenue. Given their importance, planning how you will keep in touch and nurturing those key client relationships is essential.
Avoid months slipping by without touching base. Invest time in understanding how the current situation impacts your customer’s business and their plans for the short, mid or long term.
Find ways to actively support those plans, critical deadlines and priorities over the next few months. This will help you to maintain your position as their key adviser/supplier.
11. Weigh up your sales channel success
Compare the volume and quality of your sales from all your channels. The key here is to work out which is bringing the best return and lowest cost of sale. Refocus your resources accordingly to make more of the better channels and reduce expenditure on the weaker ones.
If there is a channel that is proving disappointing but which you feel still has commercial potential given your target markets, then look closely at your approach and identify why it’s underperforming.
If you’ve invested in a website, social media, online advertising, email marketing or other marketing tools, check how this investment has delivered. As well as assessing visitor numbers, bounce rates and popular navigation routes through your site, see what phrases people use to find you. What phrases aren’t bringing the traffic you want your way? With this information, perhaps rethink the search engine effectiveness of your digital content.
12. Agility test your products and services
Customer buying behaviour will change, so evaluating whether your products or services still ‘fit the bill’ is essential. Seasonal changes may affect purchasing patterns, so consider if you need to package your products or services slightly differently to tap into those preferences, trends or changes.
Understand what the customer journey for your products/services currently involves. For many Business-to-business organisations, buyers are doing a lot more research online before getting in touch.
Reviews and testimonials are also keenly sought, and more decision-makers and influencers are being involved in buying decisions. Ensure your business presents the insight people need and is easy to find/engage with when they need it. Also, ensure your sales teams adjust to a more informed customer and have the tools, approaches and answers to convert interest into business successfully.
Remember that the most successful products and services move with the times and adapt to change. Sometimes this just requires a bit of fine-tuning, but at other times it can mean a more radical evolution.
13. Pack a punchy price
Don’t forget to factor your pricing approach into that assessment. What are your competitors charging for a similar offering, and how does your output differ?
Sometimes, businesses get caught out by a competitor delivering a similar offering at a cheaper price. It therefore pays to periodically check your competitors’ approach and be alert to sudden price changes, promotional incentives etc. You need to be alert to them developing a cheaper business model or a more efficient production process, which you are then pressurised to follow.
A good source of insight here is how your customers view your price in relation to other providers. For example, what additional benefits or features do they feel they get from purchasing from you… and you alone? Armed with this knowledge, find ways to safeguard this position and focus on being better and stronger at delivering on those counts.
14. Become a talking point
The noise levels surrounding your customers from the many media channels will only intensify in the Autumn. This means people will become even more sophisticated in screening out marketing and sales messages.
Only those which tie in with their interests and situation will get through this filtering system.
Rather than adding to the general hubbub and background wall of noise, think of a handful of distinct topics you can initiate. Draw on what interests your customers, what challenges they’re facing and what might be fun or helpful to them currently.
Space your messages out over the Autumn – going for quality, not quantity, in your planning. To gain attention and build interest, consider tapping into current moods/sentiments, the latest news and seasonal issues with your messages.
Also, consider creating something people can interact with and talk about to others, for example:
- Running a special event – loyal customer night, preview, workshop, taster session, free Q&A session
- Launching a new product or service line
- Tying up with a complementary business to offer an extended packaged offering or discount
- Publicising add-ons or different uses of your product or service range
- Bring along a friend buying sessions or offers
- Early bird offers
- Creating an experience around a particular key message
- Focus on one discussion piece at a time and integrate it across all your marketing channels to give it a decent chance of coverage and resonance. Be consistent in what you say and measure the response you get.
15. Recycle, Repurpose and Reimagine!
Not all your marketing this Autumn needs to be new. If you want more tips on repurposing previous successful marketing campaigns for greater cost-effectiveness, here are more helpful tips.
There’s still time this Autumn to get your business into shape for Q4. These tips are easy to undertake and can help your business build a competitive advantage in the 2023’s remaining months.
They can also help you avoid wasting resources on areas that aren’t bringing the return on investment you need. And during the commotion and general busyness of the season, they can give you clarity of focus and direction. Invest a little time to step back and see what fine-tuning your business needs to maximise the opportunities ahead.