The holiday season is upon us, and for small business owners, that means it’s crunch time. No other time of year will see as many customers shopping stores with pockets full of money ready to spend. But every other business out there is working hard to market their products to customers at this time of year as well, with discounted pricing and sales promotions galore. So how does a small business, with a potentially smaller budget, stand out from the competition and grab their slice of the holiday pie?
As the world starts to return to some semblance of normalcy after a few tough years, economists are expecting the biggest holiday shopping season ever. Shoppers plan to spend an average of 35% more on holiday shopping than they did last year, which already saw overall spending in the U.S. reach $886.7 billion. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, businesses will see a rush of spending that will only continue through the month of December.
Holiday marketing means capitalizing on consumers’ readiness to buy, playing on their sentiments and emotions, and catering to their desire to save a few bucks along the way. If you’re a small business owner pulling your hair out over creating an effective holiday marketing strategy, we’re here to help! Keep reading for our list of 10 holiday marketing ideas for small businesses, and get the most bang for your holiday-marketing buck.
1. Be omni-channel
Creating a marketing strategy that is omnichannel means utilizing the best of in-person and digital methods. And as an additional word of advice – if you’re not already doing this all year round, you’re missing out.
Today’s shoppers expect businesses to cater to all of their needs. They want a unique, in-store experience coupled with online tools and a social media presence. Small businesses can make the most of this approach by combining marketing methods into one, multi-targeted approach.
Create a beautiful, eye-catching website, advertise on social media channels, and let customers in your store know that these options are available to them.
Here’s why being omni-channel is so important in today’s retail market – your competitors are already doing it and your customers have come to expect it. Take advantage of the increased traffic in your store to build and grow a digital presence that complements your in-store presence.
2. Set the holiday mood
The great percentage of customers who visit your business during the holiday season will have one thing on their minds – present buying. And that means you can help keep them in that joyous mood by creating an atmosphere that screams all things holiday.
Create eye-catching, colorful, over-the-top window displays. Build holiday-themed in-store displays that are attractive and designed to boost sales. Set up a small, festive tree. And don’t forget the holiday music and lights! Anything you can do to set the tone and keep customers in the holiday mind frame will help keep them in your store longer and persuade them to part with their money faster.
3. Spread some holiday cheer
People love giving back around the holidays. Nothing brings out people’s sense of charity better than already being in the giving spirit. Organizing a charity event can be a great way to drum up some business, while simultaneously building your company’s culture and brand recognition within your community.
You could organize a toy drive or a canned food drop off. Collect donations for a local veteran’s organization, homeless shelter, or domestic violence non-profit. There are plenty of worthwhile charities that your customers would be more than willing to give to, and offering them an easy way to do so by stopping by your business gives them another reason to visit you during a busy holiday season.
If you sell products that lend themselves to giving, like apparel, toiletries, toys, or non-perishable food items, you can sell them to customers who can then donate them to a charity of your choice. That way, your customers get the amazing feeling of doing something good and you get an extra sale in the process!
4. Offer shopping lists and gift ideas
Most holiday shoppers have a long list of presents they need to buy – for loved ones, family members, coworkers, even the mailman. Make it easy on them to find the perfect gift every time by creating some holiday gift-giving guides!
Sometimes customers don’t even realize everything you have available, so creating a stunning visual guide gives them a peek at products they might otherwise overlook. It also allows you to easily advertise sales and promotions, giving them another motivation to purchase from your business.
5. Run a 25 days of Christmas promotion
For many consumers, the holiday shopping season means hardcore deal hunting. Your competitors will be out there offering savings and promotions designed to draw customers into their stores. You will need to offer some kind of incentive to drive traffic to your business as well.
Why not offer a 25-days of Christmas promotion, with a different item advertised and discounted for every day. This satisfies the consumer’s desire to save some bucks while giving them a reason to visit your store more than once!
6. Host a holiday event
You don’t need to be a giant chain store to host a holiday event. People are always looking for inexpensive, or even free ways, to celebrate the season. Hosting an in-store event is a great way to draw a crowd, and hopefully make some sales along the way.
Book a local musician to play some holiday tunes or hire a local school or church choir to sing some carols. Throw in some free hot chocolate, a few complimentary Christmas treats and cookies, and you’ve got a memorable holiday event that will get your guests smiling and put them in the holiday mood. You could even hire Santa to show up for some photo opportunities and hand out inexpensive gifts to the kids!
7. Partner up with other local businesses
Local businesses are stronger together, and sometimes it can benefit two businesses to team up in their marketing strategy. Look for businesses in your area that are not in direct competition with your company, but instead offer consumers the best of two worlds.
For example, you could partner with a local coffee shop, offering customers a discount on a cup of coffee with every purchase. In exchange that coffee shop could advertise your business by handing out flyers or hanging posters to let customers know about your business. Get creative and reach out to businesses in your area. You might be surprised how willing they are to work together.
8. Gift giving is for everyone
Everybody loves getting something for nothing, and your customers are no different, especially around the holidays. Handing out complimentary gifts is a great way to give back to those customers who support you during this time of year and demonstrates how much you appreciate their business. Just be sure to choose items that are meaningful and won’t break the bank.
Another way to capitalize on the power of the freebie is to offer a free gift with purchase. This provides buyers with the sense of getting more than they paid for and gives them another factor to consider when deciding to buy or not. Make sure you are offering gifts that make sense and match the theme of the original purchase.
9. Embrace cultural diversity
Remember that your customers come from many different backgrounds and likely celebrate many different holidays. December isn’t just about Christmas, after all. Create promotions and displays that offer every customer a true holiday experience, no matter what their demographic.
Being all-inclusive and embracing diversity in your advertising and marketing strategy is extremely important and beneficial. It increases inclusivity among your customers (and your employees) and presents your brand as one that values these qualities in every aspect of your operation. Your customers will thank you for representing them and are likely to become loyal brand ambassadors in the process.
10. Be a holiday helper
One of the most effective marketing strategies involves offering your customers something useful – something that has value beyond just the items they are buying. Think about your customers and what they are busy trying to accomplish this time of year, and then come up with creative ways to offer solutions!
You could offer a holiday decorating guide to help inspire them. Or perhaps some easy, DIY craft ideas to involve the kids. Or maybe holiday recipes are more suited to your business? How about your best tips on becoming the ultimate holiday-party hostess?
Providing your customers with useful information can be done in-store, but utilizing digital advertising and social media is an even better way to reach people. Create a social media campaign designed to help your followers have the best holiday season ever, and they will reward you by sharing your content with even more potential customers.
Holidays are all about tradition, family, love, and giving. So, make sure that your holiday marketing strategy centers around joy and happiness, and the sales will follow. A couple of carefully crafted promotional events, some cleverly advertised discounts, and you’re well on your way to building the most successful holiday retail season yet.
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