Fall planning for brands

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It seems like the temperature always dips around Labor Day – as if Mother Nature observes the unofficial beginning of autumn like we do, even though fall doesn’t really start for a few more weeks. With back-to-school sales behind us, shoppers are already eyeing the smattering of Halloween pop-up stores that have begun invading malls and Main Streets, and some are even planning their holiday gift shopping. As everyone starts to spend more time indoors and gear up for the winter holiday season, how are brands and marketers adjusting?

Most of the major players began planning for back-to-school in May, and for Black Friday in July, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to jump in. Nimble smaller brands and retailers can often move quickly. If that sounds like you, now’s the time to shift gears and fly forward.

Shift your location targets

With fall arriving – officially or not – one priority for many businesses will be growing or maintaining foot traffic. If you’re one of the many brands and retailers leveraging mobile strategies for this purpose, you’ll want to take a look at where people are spending their time.

This summer, we shared an infographic and blog post that explored where people were spending their time. While museums and malls attract a lot of visitors in the cooler months, they lose a lot of their appeal in the warmer months as people opt for beaches and amusement parks in nicer weather. Fall marks the shift back to the indoors. If you’ve been geofencing shore points and theme parks, it’s time to adjust your strategy for the cooler months. Look at gyms, malls and movie theatres, for example, if you’ve been targeting outdoors spaces.

Inform your plan with insights from real-world intelligence

If you know your customers well, you’ll have an idea where they tend to spend their time. This is the kind of insight you can gain from real-world intelligence, and it can help you plan your data-driven campaigns effectively. Once you know where your audience goes, you can target and engage them with messages and offers that are relevant to their real lives. That means, for example, if you know that your shoppers are back from vacation and spending more time at the gym and less time at the ice cream shop, you can adjust your targeting and messaging to meet them where they are, physically and mentally.

The shift from summer to fall represents not only a change in wardrobe, but a change in mindset as well, so messaging and images change from the lounge chair on the beach to the schoolbook and coppery leaf. Family life just got a lot busier (and more expensive – dance lessons and soccer just started up again!) for many parents, so focus offers on time savings as well as discounts and freebies. Again, this is an opportunity to lean on real-word intelligence to tell you what your audience needs. Your own customer data will deliver insight into what customers in your various audience segments have purchased previously, but analysis of location data can help you understand new patterns that reveal new needs – like furnishings for a new apartment, comfortable shoes for a longer commute, or sports equipment for the junior athletes in the house.

Look at your media mix

As the marketing plan is built, the device upon which you reach your customers is an important consideration. As the weather cools, marketers may want to experiment with different tactics as more time is spent indoors. OOH is still important, but broadcast and OTT may be considered for additional investment during fall and winter, as consumers spend cool evenings at home, snuggled up in front of the TV.

Of course, geofencing popular spots is still a smart, effective tactic – just make sure your geofenced areas are adjusted seasonally, as we mentioned earlier. The customers you found outside the salad and smoothie place all summer may have shifted to the coffee and bagel place for the fall, so catch them there and offer them something that ties into the change of season. Retargeting them on their desktops, mobile devices and SmartTVs later on is a great way to engage them with your message when they’re ready to receive it.

With fall in the air, customer behavior changes – so marketer behavior should, too. Many families look at this season as the “real” new year, with vacations ending and kids going back to school. It’s a good perspective for marketers to take, as well. Use this time of year to review (or create) your marketing plans, and make sure your campaigns are ready for the change of season. Even if you’ve had your plans buttoned down for months, why not take the opportunity to review, refresh and adjust? The holidays are just around the corner now, so let the autumn winds of change help you sail smoothly into the busiest time of year.

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