As summer draws to a close, business owners turn a new leaf to a season filled with fall foliage and festivities. With pumpkin spice and apple cider donuts comes a host of creative marketing opportunities for businesses to attract new customers, increase revenue, and encourage loyalty leading up to the holidays. 

From autumnal menus and promotions, to limited-edition retail items and delivery options, there are many ways business owners can connect with their customers and boost sales this season. Discover new revenue streams and improve your operations with the following fall marketing tips — including staying attentive to consumer trends, preparing your business for colder weather, and encouraging loyalty to ensure a profitable holiday season. 

How to prepare your business for fall

1. Monitor changing consumer trends 

COVID-19 has considerably changed consumer preferences and accelerated the need for business to adapt. Business owners need to understand what their customers want, and how your business model and operations can better meet their evolving expectations. And while this is true as you prepare your business this fall, it’s important to monitor trends year-round. 

In light of the past year, many consumers are still concerned about safety when dining out or visiting stores. As temperatures begin to drop, it’s critical that businesses review and update their COVID-19 precautions, including your outdoor dining plan and indoor ventilation system. Preparing your space for the colder months, creating separate sections for to-go and dine-in, and reviewing staff safety protocols are essential to keeping guests and staff safe and optimizing your operations before winter

COVID-19 also accelerated many digital trends, including online ordering and delivery. As a result, more and more consumers transitioned to off-premise dining and shopping, ordering meals, beverages, home goods, and health and wellness items directly to their door. Among popular items ordered on DoorDash in 2021 were glazed donuts (501% year-over-year increase), shampoo (1233%), and vitamins (254%). As you prepare your business’s fall marketing strategy, monitor these trends and incorporate what consumers crave most into your offerings. DoorDash partners can use the Merchant Portal to access detailed insights into menu performance and customer satisfaction to ensure you deliver on consumer expectations. 

2. Offer a limited-edition, seasonal menu 

Whether it’s spiked apple cider, butternut squash soup, or pumpkin spice lattes, consumers can’t get enough of their fall favorites. In fact, 39% of consumers associate seasonal flavors with the word “comforting.” This sense of nostalgia lends well to brand loyalty, as consumers have something to look forward to from your business each year. 

For example, gourmet hamburger chain Umami Burger rolled out their seasonal “Boomami Burger” before Halloween and promoted it on social media with high-quality photography. Not only is this dish memorable, but customers feel a sense of urgency to order before it “vanishes” until next fall. Entice your guests with a unique seasonal menu or offering that demonstrates your brand voice — and don’t forget to promote it on social media. 

Restaurant owners can also incorporate local, seasonal ingredients into their offerings, including apples, pumpkins, squash, beets, sweet potatoes, and more. Be creative with dishes, flower arrangements, and grocery store offerings — and have fun with fall-themed decor in-store, too.

New call-to-action3. Bolster delivery options for cozy nights in

As colder weather sets in for many, takeout and delivery options can be the difference between growing your customer base or losing them to hibernation. In fact, a 2021 report from the National Restaurant Association found that 53% of consumers say takeout and delivery is essential to their lifestyle. 

Strengthening your delivery options, particularly in preparation for the fall and winter months, is key to increasing your profit margins, expanding your customer base, and satisfying customer needs.

As a DoorDash restaurant partner, your team can focus less on the logistics and more on preparing delicious orders. You’ll also receive an in-store marketing kit with decals, stickers, and more to let your customers know where to find you for delivery as colder weather arrives and if in-person dining isn’t an option. You might even consider personalizing your packaging, with fall-themed stickers, notes, or complimentary seasonal treats that make your business stand out. 

4. Host a fall-themed event 

Before it gets too cold, invite customers through your door with a celebratory fall festival. Share seasonal treats and recipes, host a cooking class with your chef, offer wine and cider tasting, and include kid-friendly activities like coloring, pumpkin carving, and more. An event like this can help drive customer loyalty and strengthen your brand community ahead of the holiday season. 

If you prefer virtual events, businesses can easily engage with their customers on social media with apple pie baking tutorials, pumpkin carving livestreams, fall flower arrangement tips, and more. Get creative and strengthen your social media strategy with seasonal how-to’s to keep your business top of mind throughout the season. 

Events also provide an opportunity for you to pursue new revenue streams by selling retail items and merchandise such as t-shirts, sauces, spices, or other pantry items. Loyal customers are eager to support their favorite businesses, so take advantage of this powerful fall marketing strategy to foster brand loyalty, increase awareness, and generate additional sales. 

5. Consistently update your online presence 

77% of diners look at a restaurant’s website before dining in or ordering. Make sure that customers see your mouthwatering seasonal offerings by promoting them via your website, social media channels, email newsletter, and other digital channels. 

An eye-catching, easy-to-use website improves your visibility, conveys a clear brand identity, and (most importantly) tells customers how to do business with you. Keep your website and online menu up-to-date with your seasonal offerings so visitors know what to expect. 

Another fall marketing strategy is to capitalize on social media holidays for this time of year. Consider launching promotions or discounts for National Coffee Day (September 29), National Taco Day (October 4), National Dessert Day (October 14), World Bread Day (October 16), National Pasta Day (October 17), and American Beer Day (October 27). For more creative inspiration, download our 2021 Restaurant Marketing Calendar & Toolkit.

2021-restaurant-marketing-calendar

The key ingredient to successful fall marketing? Preparation

The best thing any business can do to prepare for the fall is to plan ahead so you have plenty of time to brainstorm, launch and optimize your fall marketing campaigns. Consider how seasonal promotions will impact your staffing needs, knowing that the holidays will be busy, and employees may request more time off than usual. Now is also a great time to conduct a menu engineering analysis to understand which items are most profitable and popular — then adjust your menu and inventory ordering accordingly. 

Equipped with these fall marketing tips, you can inspire more customers to come through your door — physically and virtually — while applying your brand’s distinctive flavor to your seasonal marketing strategy. 

Craving more insights about how to prepare your business for the fall and winter seasons? Download the Preparing Your Restaurant for Winter guide to get ahead of customer needs as temperatures drop. 

author-saradeforest
Sara DeForest
Copywriter

Sara DeForest is a Bay Area-based freelance copywriter. Previously, she was VP of Marketing at an early stage startup that was named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies. Prior to that, Sara was a content marketer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Though Silicon Valley is a roller coaster, Sara finds her real adrenaline rush doing standup comedy.