Summer is only just beginning, but when it comes to marketing planning, your end-of-summer marketing strategy should already be in place. Being ahead of the consumer purchasing curve ensures that you’ll be ready and well-positioned when customers begin looking for what you have to offer them. If you’re wondering “when to start my end-of-summer marketing,” this post will provide the tips to help get you on track and ahead of the game.
Marketing for End of Summer and Early Fall
Summer is just as busy or busier than other times of year, and early fall isn’t without its events either. To optimize your strategy, you need to account for these critical factors and take advantage of the ones that make the most sense for your business. This may be as simple as bearing in mind which foods are popular during the hot summer months, and what foods people begin to crave as the weather begins to cool off for fall. Apparel is among the products that are most obvious in their shift — from summer dresses to cardigans and flip flops to loafers with an academic flair. Tourism tends to be big in the summer, and people start to reevaluate their gardening or home improvement needs as the weather shifts toward colder seasons. There’s even more babies born in late summer and early fall. Here’s some of the other seasonally oriented events, holidays, and behaviors you should be planning for:
- Back-to-school, including state mandated tax holidays for clothing and supplies
- College searches for some teens, moving to college campuses for others
- UV Safety Month (July)
- National Parks Month (July)
- International Friendship Day (Aug. 2)
- Women’s Equality Day (Aug. 26)
- Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month (August)
- Labor Day (Sept. 7)
- Patriot Day (Sept. 11)
- Health and Family Fitness Day (Sept. 26)
- Whole Grains Month (September)
- Cancer Awareness Month for Prostate Cancer, Leukemia, Lymphoma (September)
Tap Into Seasonal Community Events
The elements we’ve mentioned are fairly broad and the details may differ by locality, but the concepts behind them are universal. What you cannot discount in your end of summer planning is the power of local, community events. Perhaps your town of operation holds community concerts on weekends through the end of summer, or offers craft fairs in early fall. Your choice of events obviously needs to make sense for your business, but not taking advantage of community engagement will mean missing out on a lot of brand exposure, customer engagement, and positive brand association. You’ll need to know not only when the events occur, but what their deadlines are for booth or table reservations, sponsorship and presentation opportunities.
There are a lot of reasons that your summer and fall marketing planning needs to start early. Just consider:
- Publication advertising deadlines are often two months ahead of release
- Video marketing (either for broadcast or digital) takes time to script, film, and edit for broadcast
- Even marketing with faster turnaround, like digital, direct mail, and newspapers, needs time for design and content creation, printing and space reservations
But there’s more to starting early than just the physical process of making your marketing creative and effective.
If you want to stay competitive, you need to be at the top of consumers’ minds at the point they’re ready to purchase, and that means marketing earlier so you can create touch points earlier in their path to purchase. Many customers are likely researching from mobile devices in stolen moments throughout the day, so promoting your fall line up (e.g., seasonal apparel, fall sports seasons, home decor) would need to be ready earlier than the end of summer.
However, in some cases, you need to start much, much earlier. The most obvious example is back-to-school shopping, which parents begin planning for as early as mid-to late-July. Trends show that the purchase phase is going to happen quickly. When they’re ready to get started, 80% of back-to-school shoppers want to be done with their shopping in two weeks or less, and another 70% are likely to only shop with three or fewer retailers for supplies. If this is your audience, you simply can’t afford to wait on your summer marketing, or shoppers will already have their minds made up about what they want to buy and who they want to buy from.
Remember Good Marketing Practices
Beginning early is only part of what will make your end of summer marketing strategy successful. You also need to remember the basics and apply them efficiently and effectively. Consistency and frequency are always paramount considerations for boosting brand awareness and recall. If you’ve got special events going on, that may also require more persistence than usual when competing for attention when people of all ages are trying to get the most out of that last bit of summer. They’re likely to be on the go, and participating in a lot of activities (including vacations), so being ready with omni-channel, mobile-friendly touch-points is a must.
Put an Emphasis on Targeting
Targeting is another marketing basic that’s important no matter the season, but it bears mentioning here because you may need to segment your audiences differently or ramp up your efforts for specific segments to maximize certain events. For instance, back-to-school purchasing relies mostly on parents, but teens are huge influencers across all kinds of purchases, so you may want to maximize marketing to teens before they’re actually back in school. Other holidays are more specific than your regular marketing, such as Women’s Equality Day and Patriot Day, which are great opportunities to target women, the armed forces, and veterans.
Mobile is also a year-round strategy that needs special emphasis in summer marketing since consumers young and old will be active, outside, and traveling. It’s worth pointing out that nearly two-thirds of American consumers own a smartphone, and they continue to handle shopping activities from their devices, whether it’s tracking down store locations (60% of consumers), checking or comparing prices in stores (70% of consumers), or simply browsing products and doing research (72% of consumers). Within different segments, those numbers may be even higher. For back-to-school shoppers, mobile’s share of searches is already higher than 50%.
What’s more, search strings that include the phrase “near me” have doubled between 2014 and 2015, reaching a number 34 times higher than it was in 2011. Mobile share of that search string? A staggering 80%. Consumers want to shop quickly and find what’s nearby while they’re on the go. If you want them to find you, be mobile ready.
These tips are just a starting point for developing your end of summer marketing, but planning at least a season ahead is key. From community events to holidays, and from going mobile to audience segmentation, there’s a lot that needs to be addressed for a successful end of summer marketing strategy. Be ready at the right time and reap the rewards.
Tips to Start Your Summer Marketing
- Plan to plan ahead. Your marketing should be prepared at least one season in advance so you can connect with customers in micro-moments and touchpoints. At the beginning of summer, begin planning for fall. At the beginning of fall, begin planning for winter. Better yet, develop and budget for annual marketing plans each year.
- Audit your end of summer marketing strategy and identify weaknesses. Could it be executed better? Improve now, so you can head into fall strong.
- Which end-of-summer marketing tips above resonate with you and your business marketing strategy? Determine which ones you can implement now.
- Refresh your market research and collate your collected customer data. This will ensure that your audience segmentation and targeting for your summer marketing strategy is up to date and effective.
- What tracking system or methods do you have in place to recognize mobile customers and gather user data across devices? Tracking and analysis of user activity is invaluable to successful marketing.
- Be an active part of your community and interact with other involved community members. Remember that local cause marketing such as sponsorships and co-sponsorships with other businesses, can be very beneficial to your brand.
Running a business isn’t easy, but it’s a lot harder without customers. Taking the time to plan ahead for an effective seasonal marketing campaign like End-of-Summer and Back-to-School will bring you much better returns on the investment of your time.
Need more advice? Visit Valpak’s “Your Personal Marketing Coach” or give us a call at 800-550-5025.