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Holiday Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

{Click to read this post in Spanish / Haga click para leer este post en español}


The holidays bring feelings of joy, gifts, and food. If you’re a small business owner on a tight budget, your feelings around the holidays may be closer to dread. You are thinking of your family’s Christmas plans while trying to figure out how to boost end-of-year sales with a limited ad budget (if any). Then, you look at the big guys who can afford to spend much more and you wonder, “how can I compete?” There are a few ways for you to stand out while staying true to yourself and telling your own story. Here are some holiday marketing ideas for your small business.


We are going to split up the season into the two major shopping events: Thanksgiving and Christmas. The first marks the start of the Christmas shopping season and the second is the culmination of it.


Thanksgiving Shopping


There is no getting around it. If you sell to the public, you have to do something around Thanksgiving. Your competitors certainly will. The good thing is you don’t have to do the exact thing everyone else is doing. In fact, you could potentially be bold and get just as much attention.



Turn Your Back on Black Friday

How many employees do you have? How much of your November sales occur on this day? Could you make up for those sales over Saturday, Sunday, and Cyber Monday?


Prior to the pandemic, consumers were showing signs of Black Friday fatigue. People were no longer excited about physically standing in long lines looking for deals in crowded stores. Some online shopping was already occurring but COVID-19 completely eliminated the physical 2020 Black Friday as most consumers shrank their shopping lists and moved all shopping online. While the pandemic may have caused this drastic shift, it is now here to stay.


If you close physical doors to the public and broadcast your intent to offer your employees a joyous, restful, and complete Thanksgiving, you can get attention from consumers who value businesses that treat their employees well.


Several bigger companies have adopted this strategy but the earliest and best example is REI. A reseller of equipment for outdoor sports, they first shut their doors on Black Friday in 2015. To announce the closure, REI issued a statement asking employees and customers to use that day to go outside and enjoy nature rather than shop.



News of this bold step made REI a top news story; a company giving time back to their employees when other retailers were moving Black Friday up into Thursday evening. Once you have a captivated audience interested because of your statement, you can share the promotions you’ll run the rest of the weekend and beyond.


Social Media Promotion

Shutting down is not realistic for everybody but enabling your online community to do the advertising for you is something every small business should strive for. First, you must determine a goal for your social media promotion and how your audience can get the word out. Here are some examples of social media promotions:

  • Follow us, like, and share a post for a chance to win: You put out a post to your community announcing special prizes they can win by simply liking and sharing the post itself. Expanding your audience is now built into your raffle. You can then share special promotions on your products taking advantage of the bigger audience.

  • Sign up to our email newsletter for a discount code: Your post should include a link to a landing page where users can provide their email address. You can then send them a discount code or coupon for them to shop at your store. You also now have new users on your email list that you can market to beyond the holidays.

  • Follow us and shout us out using our product: If you have a strong community of supporters, get them to create their own posts using your product or talking about their experience with your service. This gets the word out about your small business to new communities. You can then choose a few winners to showcase on your own channel. You not only just created free advertising for your small business but also generated new content for future use.



Christmas Shopping


Okay, you made it through Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Hopefully, these days were good to you.


Now it’s time to promote your business during the month of December. This is when most of us are bombarded with ads. Not only does this mean your customers may not pay as much attention to your emails and posts but those messages may turn away customers.


The best way to combat this is to not push products so much and instead shift your focus to your audience.


“Treat Yo Self!” promotion

If your service or product is not one that is easily gifted to others, a “Treat Yo Self!” campaign is a great way to promote during the holidays. Let’s face it, sometimes we all want something for ourselves.


If you’re a stylist, offer a special beauty package so your customers feel their best at their office Christmas party. Auto repair shops can offer oil changes and tire rotation packages in advance of holiday road trips. And coffee shops can offer seasonal drinks when you just want to take a break from shopping.



Partner with a charity

If there is a cause you believe in, this may be the right time to introduce it to your community and ask them to help you support their cause. This will show customers the human being behind the small business. They will appreciate you for giving back to the community long after the holiday season.


You will also have peace of mind knowing you used this time to give back. This is, after all, a time to be thankful and help others who don’t have what you have.


Social media block party

Consider reaching out to other small businesses in your neighborhood and setting up a sort of virtual block party. Set up promotions that work as cross-selling.


If you run a car wash and there is a tire shop nearby, offer a free tire shine to customers who purchase new tires. Similarly, a cookie shop could offer a free treat as dessert to shoppers who present a receipt from the restaurant across the street. This is a great way to find new customers and build strong relationships in your real-world community.



Final Thoughts


The holidays bring added pressures and most people today are bombarded with “special deals” from the moment Halloween ends. As a small business with a tight budget, advertising could result in few sales because bigger manufacturers are spending so much for premium placement. You are better off leveraging your online and neighborhood communities, focusing on giving back, and standing out. Remember, your story matters.


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