17+ Free and Creative September Marketing Ideas
They say a relaxed mind is a creative mind, but it's hard to come up with creative marketing ideas when you're running a business. Luckily, there’s a slew of awareness themes, observances, and holidays each month of the year that can save you from having to start from scratch. In fact, you can find a national day for just about anything (e.g. National Fish and Chip Day).
In this post, we’re going to cover all things September to help you come up with unique and interesting ways to engage your audience, attract new customers, and keep existing clients coming back. The ideas will be divided into:
- September awareness causes to support engagement and brand messaging.
- Holidays and observances great for social media and blog posts.
- September themes and associated local marketing tips.
September awareness marketing ideas
Here are just some of the many causes highlighted in September for which you may want to express support through your marketing:
- Childhood cancer
- Addiction recovery
- Disaster preparedness
- Food safety
- Life insurance
If you’re an insurance company or life coach, great! But your business doesn’t necessarily have to be in an industry directly tied to any of the above causes. Consumers pursue businesses that share their values, so going off-topic does not mean you’re going off-brand. Here are some ideas for incorporating these September causes into creative, low-budget marketing.
1. Self-improvement challenge
Host a virtual 30-day challenge in September encouraging your followers with a daily call to action geared toward self-improvement.
2. Personal growth poll
Run a poll inviting people to share favorite books, places, or activities that inspire them to grow. Encouraging follower interaction and feedback on your social media pages builds customer loyalty and helps them feel like part of a bigger conversation.
3. Childhood cancer awareness
There are several ways to engage your audience and your employees in the name of childhood cancer awareness. Host a fundraiser where you sell T-shirts like the below example in support of a particular child or the cause in general.
Or, register your company on an app like Great Cycle Challenge and get your employees out on their bikes. Not only will you be fighting kid cancer, but you’ll be promoting good health and friendly competition among your employees. Encourage photo sharing so your audience can follow along throughout the month.
3. Food safety
With September being Food Safety Month, this is an opportunity for health specialists and restaurants to promote their services, publicize their best practices, and reassure customers.
4. Safe foods
It’s not just about being sure you wear gloves and that your meat is kept at a certain temperature. Come at the cause from a different angle, where you promote healthful foods. Check out how this businesses incorporated the cause into their Instagram marketing:
5. National Wilderness Month
Go wild in September. Don't worry, we’re talking about the actual wilderness here. 2020 has seen enough mayhem. With fewer businesses open and more people exploring the nature around them right now, what better month to post scenic photos and inspiring Insta posts than National Wilderness Month? Reintroduce local gems to followers or share personal photos of your favorite hiking trails.
September holiday marketing ideas
The most obvious September holiday is Labor Day, but there are a few other days of note that can help you in connecting with customers.
6. Labor Day
Brush up on your local marketing to make sure consumers visiting your town for the long weekend can find you. The higher your business ranks on Google Maps, the more customers you’ll attract.
For businesses that slow down during the summer, host a Labor Day sale to encourage as many existing customers as possible to come back. If you have a customer loyalty program, mention it in your email newsletter or on your website. It can be as easy as creating a punch card toward a free or discounted product or service, or just asking customers for their email addresses.
7. NFL opening night
Opening night for the NFL falls in September—even this year despite the mixed-up COVID-19 sports schedules. Celebrate the season opener with some creative marketing for your business. Here are some ideas:
- Engage customers on Facebook (or in-store, if applicable) by asking about their favorite teams or running a trivia contest.
- If you’re open, decorate your storefront, restaurant, or studio in team colors, run a football-themed special, or offer discounts on game days or when your team wins.
8. First day of fall
The autumnal equinox (for the Northern Hemisphere) typically occurs in the last week or so of September, which means that the number of daylight and nighttime hours is the same. This celestial holiday (yay) marks the official end of the summer (sad).
But the first day of fall is a beautiful second new start granted to us each year. It’s a great opportunity to publish blog posts, promote products, and share social media images around fresh starts and new beginnings.
Businesses with seasonal offerings, like photographers with senior picture or family sessions (socially distanced, of course), should start inviting bookings now as well.
September national day marketing ideas
Unfortunately, National Fish and Chips Day (see intro) does not fall in September, but there are plenty of uplifting and marketing-friendly observances that do.
9. Positive Thinking Day
Positive Thinking Day falls on September 13 every year and never gets any less versatile. Any business can use this holiday for just about any reason: to cheer up, motivate, encourage, compliment, thank, help, inspire, or [insert any positive verb your heart desires here]. Dentists can connect this to smiles, physical therapists to recovery, interior designers to decorating, and the list goes on.
10. National Working Parents Day
National Working Parents Day (September 16) is particularly special this year given the impact of COVID-19 on our lifestyles. If your audience includes working parents, take the time to acknowledge their hard work and resilience. Humanize your brand by recognizing that your clients are individuals who care for their loved ones while also forming the backbone of your organization. Also, don't forget about your parent employees!
11. Good Neighbor Day
Good Neighbor Day, on September 28, is a good time to do some outreach across your Instagram, LinkedIn, or geograpically local network. Acknolwedge fellow neighboring businesses on social media to encourage a sense of community, or come up with a contest where followers or employees can nominate good neighbors for a grand prize.
12. National Read a Book Day
National Read a Book Day is a creative way for preschools, tutors, and other education-oriented businesses to market themselves. If your business isn’t related to education, read a book related to your industry and share your insights and learnings on your blog or social media profiles.
This is also a good time to give back to your community by reading a book to children or the elderly. Volunteering is not only a honorable thing to do, it will make you feel good and as a bonus, likely increase brand awareness in your local market.
International September marketing ideas
International observances send powerful messages that can align with many a brand's core values. Connecting your marketing to theses observances can help to highlight your mission statement and company culture.
13. International Day of Charity
September 5 is the International Day of Charity. Choose a local charity to support and get your employees involved, whether in person or virtually.
Or, if you're already supporting a charity, feature them on your blog or social media profiles and invite your followers to support them as well.
14. International Day of Peace
This day has been recognized around the world every September 21 since 1981. It has always been an important day, but with all that has gone on in 2020, it is especially relevant. The United Nations says it all:
"As we struggle to defeat COVID-19, your voice is more important than ever. In these difficult times of physical distancing, this International Day of Peace will be dedicated to fostering dialogue and collecting ideas. The world will be invited to unite and share thoughts on how to weather this storm, heal our planet and change it for the better. Even though we may not be able to stand next to each other, we can still dream together."
Final September marketing themes
Time to wrap up this list of September marketing ideas with the two themes that are strongly associated with the month.
15. Back to school
Any type of business can participate in the back to school season. Run student discounts, a back-to-school promotional week, or offer back-to-school themed products. If your business markets to college students, this is a great time to generate buzz on social media or partner with student organizations for virtual events.
16. Fall harvest
September is the time pick up corn stalks and hay bales from a local farm to decorate the outside of your brick-and-mortar location. Take pictures and show off your new decor on social media, remembering to include creative hashtags to increase engagement and reach for your posts. You may even want to upload photos of your fall-themed decorations and products to your Google Business profile.
And with the first day of fall falling (yes, I went there) on end of the month, you can run a visually appealing countdown series all month long.
17. Moving day
September 1 is a popular moving day across the country. This is a good time for movers, furniture stores, and other moving-related businesses to make sure their website and listings are optimized for Google local search. People new to the area will resort to their go-to search engine to find what they need, and you want to appear first.
The most efficient way to imrove your local online presence is by optimizing your Google Business Profile. You should:
Publish Google posts
Within your Google My Business account, you can create posts that publish directly to your listing about special offers and promotions. These posts will appear whenever your listing appears on Google Search and Google Maps.
Update your Q&A Section
You can, and should, populate your own Q&A section on your Google Business Profile. This helps you to get ahead of common customer questions and increase their confidence in choosing your business. Take this time to address of any questions that may be particularly relevant for fall, such as:
- Do you have student discounts?
- Does your back to school package include sauna use?
- Do you have the back to school supply list for my local elementary school?
- What are your hours on move-in weekend?
Update your fall hours
If you have a seasonal business, make sure to reflect any changes in your hours on your Google listing. When it comes to local marketing, the details are key.
Hopefully these September marketing ideas and examples have given you some material to work with for your blog, social media profiles, websites, and other free marketing channels. If you're interested in running ads, check out our post on PPC for seasonal businesses.
For more monthly marketing ideas, check out our other posts:
- 17+ Free and Creative September Marketing Ideas
- 21+ Free and Effective October Marketing Ideas
- 19 Simple Yet Superb November Marketing Ideas (with Examples)
- 20 Super-Festive December Marketing Ideas
- 15 January Marketing Ideas to Start the New Year with a Bang
- 20 Fabulous (and Affordable) February Marketing Ideas
- 30+ Creative and Cost-Friendly March Marketing Ideas
And for a year's worth of marketing ideas, check out this marketing calendar template from our friends at LOCALiQ.