The hot weather is going away. The leaves are turning and falling to the ground. It’s time to get ready for the end of year events that draw everyone’s interest.

If you’re marketing your business online, you have a few weeks to make sure you can stand out from the crowd. It’s crucial to use the next few weeks to plan what you want to sell and how you want to look over the final three make-or-break months.

Halloween

It starts with Halloween. It’s not Christmas, but Halloween spending topped $9 billion in 2017. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly 180 million plan on taking part in some Halloween-related activity.

Smallbiztrends.com has a number of ideas on how to take advantage of Halloween. These range from “Adding Spooky Elements to Your Online Store Design” and hosting a Halloween Contest on Facebook to offering discounts to customers send in costume photos.

If you have the budget and it fits your business, you can follow the lead of Guinness, which released shadow-shaped coasters for Halloween in 2015.

Halloween is one of the biggest Do-It-Yourself holidays so consider posting content that focuses on fun, decorating advice and party tips.

November

The Big Three are coming up – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years – and most people are in money-saving mode in early November. Decide what you want to sell in December and use early November for brand awareness. Wait on the deals until people are ready to buy.

Focus not so much on new customers but on current customers. Run email campaigns to get back on their wish lists and then retarget them with ads.

Thanksgiving week

Focus most of your efforts on linking your brand or products to family. Stoufer’s created an #AllToTheTable campaign that encouraged people to share recipes, table decor and hosting tips, while driving people to the Soutffer’s website where they could find more recipes.

Food Network used Thanksgiving to massively grow its email database for future campaigns. It gathered 258,380 contacts by publishing  a Thanksgiving sweepstakes on its website complete with multiple giveaways. You could consider a gift basket giveaway – especially if it’s food related – again looking to grab email addresses.

If you have a fitness-related company, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to launch a membership giveaway or fitness challenge.

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday this year is on Nov. 23. Research shows the brands that have the most success on Black Friday begin their campaigns 10 days before. There is a lot of competition for eyeballs that week. If you’re going to budget for repetition, this is the week to spend that money. Mainstreethost.com has a number of other tips to help you hit your targets.

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 to give a boost to the small store owners who are ignored on Black Friday. The goal of this day is to get people in stores. Extend your hours. Join forces with other small businesses near you and band together with promotions. Pick that day to run a giveaway or host an event.

Verticalresponse.com has some useful ideas. Highlight what makes your business special. “It you have a bookstore, hold a reading. If you are in the food/beverage industry, host a tasting.” It’s the personal touch that separates you from your competitors.

Cyber Monday is a bear for small business. You are taking on Amazon. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some strategies you can try. According to the Perk Report, more money now is spent on Cyber Monday than Black Friday. Apparel, consumer electronics and home goods are the top sellers on Cyber Monday.

Fitsmallbusiness.com has some tips on how to compete with the big boys. Among the suggestions:

  • Average order discounts ($20 off purchases of $200 or more)
  • Discount coupons on next purchase
  • Free shipping thresholds (Free delivery on $100+ purchases)

The shoppers are out there so spend some money on paid ads. If you’re dabbling in video, do some on your best products and get them on Youtube. Influencer marketing is gaining in importance. Research video bloggers on Youtube and ask them to review your best products. The worst answer you can get is no.

Also, make sure you have what you’re selling on Google’s Merchant Center. This helps you look like a big box store or Amazon.

December

It’s important not to blow your budget before December. Nearly 25 percent of shoppers do all of their shopping for Christmas after December 11. Consider creating a gift guide and emailing out a link to download it to your best customers. This is the time to really stay on top of social media, increase the posts, more pictures, shots of staff working on decorations or special gifts.

Christmas

Christmas is the most active day of the holiday season on social media. This is a day to simply wish your followers all the best for the holidays.

New Years Eve

The talk every New Year is about resolutions. Get creative. Beeliked.com highlighted some great 2017 New Years campaigns, including Air BnB’s campaign to encourage kindness with its #OneLessStranger campaign and Alcohol Concern’s “Dry January” campaign. Everyone wants to improve in 2019 – even if most abandon it quickly – it’s a perfect time to take advantage.