The holidays can be fraught with stress or full of joy or maybe even a combination of both.
As a small business owner, you probably feel pressure toward the end of the year to up your sales and do a final push to your annual revenue goal. You might also be interested in clearing inventory off your shelves to start the new year with fresh products and fresh opportunities.
How can you leverage the holiday season, a time of year when people are more prone to frequent your store or website and spend their money?
Below are 21 different types of small business promotion ideas for the holiday season. Use these holiday marketing ideas to capitalize on the end of the year rush – and all of those customers working through a candy cane-induced sugar high.
Hosting On-Site Events
If you run a brick and mortar business, the holiday season is the perfect time to show off your location and increase your foot traffic. Even people who have never visited before might be more apt to at this time of year, especially if they’re looking for a special gift.
1. Participate in Small Business Saturday
Don’t compete with the Black Friday deals of your larger competitors.
The popularity of Small Business Saturday allows you to take advantage of someone else’s marketing dollar. This event was started by American Express to promote small businesses the day after Thanksgiving and provide more exposure over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Do what large businesses can’t and shower customers with personal attention on Small Business Saturday.
2. Participate in Farmer’s Markets and Other Local Events
Take your show on the road and showcase your business at local community events and festivals that highlight other small businesses in your area.
Leveraging your own networks in combination with the free advertising that comes with Farmer’s Markets, Christmas fairs or Holiday festivals. If you choose to have a booth or exhibit at an already established event it will give you exposure to an entirely new group of people who are already eager to spend money.
3. Plan In-Store Events or Parties
Are you a small cooking supply store? Host a cookie decorating party the first Saturday in December. If you’re a paint-your-own-pottery place, offer a special event with Christmas themed pieces. Perhaps a tree decorating contest would appeal to your customer – you supply the trees and the decorations and your attendees provide a festive window and store display for the season.
Hosting in-store events requires extra planning and probably a few extra hands, but getting people through the doors is the first step in completing a sale. Give them a fun reason to stop by and make it about more than a transaction to generate goodwill among your customers.
4. Extend Your Shopping Hours
Increase the hours your physical location is open or lengthen the time for online support or chat. Giving customers the added convenience of more time to shop will help your bottom line.
5. Partner with a Local Charity
People feel particularly altruistic at the end of the year. One Christmas marketing idea is to partner with a local charity. This partnership can take many forms:
- Local Food Bank – Every customer that brings in a non-perishable food item receives a coupon.
- Toy Drive – Every customer that brings in a new, unwrapped toy receives a coupon or additional discount on their purchase.
- One for you, one for them – For every “x” item sold, you (the business owner) will donate a similar item to an appropriate charity.
6. Offer Gift-Wrapping Services
If you have space, gift wrapping services are a great value-add for many customers. Another option is to combine this offering with the local charity option. Many school groups, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops look for volunteer opportunities at this time of year, and offering free gift wrapping services might fit the bill.
Point of Purchase Opportunities
Once your customer is through the door and standing at the register, how can you best ensure they return? Or even just pass along a good word-of-mouth review to their friends?
Here are a few point of purchase options that will bring customers back again.
7. Give Gifts with Purchase
It may be a cliche, but people love getting something for “nothing.” Offering specific gifts with purchase, whether it’s dictated by price point (e.g., receive this tote when you spend $50 in store) or works as a gift to complement their purchase (e.g., buy a pair of sneakers and get a pair of socks for free), this sales promotion idea leaves customers with a smile.
Consider staggering your gifts with purchase throughout the holiday season to maximize on return visits. Make sure to promote these gifts via your social media channels, email lists, and websites.
8. Offer Bounceback Coupons
Coupons at any time of the year are great, but they are especially handy during the holidays when gift lists grow long and expensive. Offer people coupons with their purchase that are valid throughout the following weeks of the shopping season to have them coming back for more.
9. Use Gift Cards / Gift Certificates to Double Sales
Hopefully, you’re already offering gift cards or certificates, but if you’re not, consider making it an option this year. These gift cards not only bring people into your store to make the initial purchase, but they also bring new people in for redemption.
This sales promotion idea is pretty easy to set up on your website, which gives you a fairly passive revenue stream at this important time of year. And, you don’t have to worry about inventory, or not having the “exact” right gift for whomever your customer is shopping for; a gift card means the recipient can return whenever they want and pick out the perfect thing for themselves.
10. Set up Mobile Checkout
If your store tends to get busy during the holidays or you have a small space, consider implementing mobile checkout.
Equip your staff with a credit card reader and a smartphone or tablet to make it easy for customers to check out. This cuts down on guest frustration and allows your team to move about the store freely without being stuck behind the register all day. This can also help to cut down on loss prevention.
Online Holiday Marketing Ideas
You’re probably more than aware that ramping up your marketing during the holiday is a given. But where do you begin? Let’s examine some effective options for your small business holiday marketing.
11. Use Email to Promote Everything
If you have an email list of past customers, make sure you leverage it during the holidays. Promote everything: in-store events, sales, gifts with purchase, Small Business Saturday… everything.
If your website has a shopping cart feature, consider investing in shopping cart reminder emails. While it’s true that nearly 7 out of 10 shoppers will abandon their shopping cart, 6 out of 10 typically return to make a purchase if they receive a reminder email.
12. Refresh Your Website
You don’t need a complete overhaul, but a minor website refresh for the holiday season could go a long way to securing more sales.
Add some festive graphics; take some new photos of key products or inventory; add a welcome letter that talks about the holiday season and thanks your customers for making your year successful.
13. Revamp Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy
Take the time to analyze your current Google Adwords or SEO campaigns and optimize them for the holiday season.
It’s also worth taking a few minutes to check all of the links on your website and through social media to ensure everything is working properly. Broken links can hurt your SEO and lead to missing sales.
14. Stream Facebook and Youtube Live Videos
Social media small business promotion is its own category, but don’t overlook the power of video on sites like Facebook and YouTube. People use Facebook Live every day to promote their products or showcase their services.
These live streaming options are the perfect venue to offer classes, product demonstrations, and online exclusive events.
15. Update Your Online Business Listings
Make sure to update your store’s holiday hours on your Google business listing, Yelp, Facebook page, Twitter profile, and Instagram handle. You’ll want potential customers to have access to as much updated information as possible during these critical weeks.
16. Use Facebook Events to Promote In-Store Experiences
Create Facebook events that highlight your in-store or onsite parties.
Post pictures from previous years and make sure you have someone monitoring the event page to answer any questions.
Facebook events are also a great venue for answering any questions attendees may have in advance of their visit to your store.
17. Run Social Media Contests
Run a contest by encouraging your customers to post their favorite ugly sweater pictures or decorating fails or holiday baking mishaps and run a contest for the photo with the most votes. You can also do a cute kid contest or the best wreath, whatever option that might fit best with your brand. Just make sure you’re clear with the terms and conditions.
18. Real-Time Updates
It’s also a good idea to use your social media channels, your store’s answering service and your website as real-time communication channels. This is especially important if you sell out of a popular product or need to close unexpectedly (or open early). Give your customers ways to stay up-to-date on your business happenings throughout the season.
Online Sales Promotion Ideas
While some of the below options could also fit in the Marketing category, many of these ideas uniquely focus on online events or specific characteristics of online sales.
19. Provide Themed Gift Guides & Shopping Guides
Bloggers tend to write up gift guides around the holidays.
If there’s anyone that focuses on the types of products you sell, reach out and see if you might be included. Also, see if there’s anyone who might write up a local shopping guide. Especially if you’re located in a downtown area or an area that has holiday events, make sure you’re store is listed on the guide. Both of these are great ways to capture some new eyeballs for your location and products.
If there isn’t anyone in your area who writes up gift guides, consider adding one to your own website. It will help to generate great search value and provide you with some targeted holiday traffic.
20. Offer Cyber Monday Discounts
Regardless of business size, Cyber Monday (the Monday following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday) is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Leverage your online store and get in on the action. Make sure to promote any deals or specials you’ll have for Cyber Monday via email and social media to make sure customers don’t forget about you in their clicking frenzy.
21. Free Shipping for Online Orders
This is actually a great holiday sales promotion to run for the entirety of the holiday shopping season. Also investigate the cost to offer expedited shipping (for any of those last minute shoppers) or maybe a discount for expedited shipping (e.g., for $5 you’ll be sure to ship the item priority as an added bonus to your online shoppers).
Be aware of limiting free shipping based on order total. Unless the customer can absolutely not get your product from anywhere else, only offering free shipping on orders of $49 or more could hurt your bottom line. Many larger companies will offer free shipping regardless of order total, especially for Cyber Monday.
Picking Your Small Business Holiday Promotions
Choose the best holiday promotions for your business. It’s not necessary to offer significant discounts that will end up hurting your bottom line. At the end of the day, your goal is to increase your holiday sales and offer added value to your customers. An even better outcome from your small business holiday promotions is to gain new customers that will help propel your sales into the new year.