“It’s not even a week past Labor Day, and you want me to think about marketing my business and promoting products for the holiday season?”
That’s what you screamed back at that marketing guru you usually enjoy listening to, as his YouTube marketing video blared on, Santa Clauses in the background, along with twinkling lights and a row of candy canes leading through the snow.
But he’s right, you know. If you haven’t given your business’s holiday marketing strategy a thought yet, get on it now.
The great thing about holiday marketing? It can be fun—if you’re not Scrooge, that is. And a lot of it doesn’t take a lot of money. You can do it on even the strictest of budgets. Here’s how:
Give Holiday Shopping Coupons with Each Purchase
It doesn’t cost much to print up coupons. Dress them up in holiday cheer and start passing them out to customers who purchase something from you. When they get ready to shop for gifts (and the coupons will act as a reminder for them to do so), they’ll head your way.
Make Sure to Have Gift Cards or Gift Certificates Available
Gift cards and gift certificates are a must if a business wants to get plenty of holiday greenery coming into their cash registers for the coming holiday season. This goes double for service-oriented businesses, who need something tangible that their customers can wrap up as a gift.
Create Joint Holiday Packages with Other Businesses
Everybody loves combination gifts for the holidays. Whether they come in a basket or a bundle, the oohs and ahs come on strong for a collection of gifts. Problem is, most businesses don’t have all the items they need to create knock-your-socks-off gifts. Problem solved. If you’re a snack shop, join forces with the wine shop down the street and the glassware store to create a beverage-and-snack tour de force. Service providers, too, can get into the act. Combine a set of yoga lessons with a mat from a sports shop—or ballet lessons with a ballerina doll for the young dancers on your customers’ gift lists.
Glean Some Good Karma and Goodwill from Charity Activities
Nothing gets you into the holiday spirit more than giving to others. Publicize that generosity, combine it with an on-site event, and your town will remember you as that business who loves to do for others. Those good vibes will produce marketing gold all year long—and a warm feeling in your heart and those of your employees.
Sample the Santa Magic
Embrace your inner kid and invite Santa Claus to your business around the holidays. Breakfasts are always popular with parents and kids, while a budget-priced photo op with the Jolly Old Elf will save parents a costly trip to the mall, long lines, and photo packages that start at three figures. If you can have some stickers, small toys, or candies with your company label on them, even better.
Hold Holiday Open Houses with Seasonal Refreshments
Help tired shoppers refresh themselves when you offer them some holiday beverages and snacks as they shop. Even if your business isn’t one that normally sells run-of-the-mill holiday gifts—a car dealer, for instance—the goodwill your thoughtfulness will provide will spill over into the new year—and increased business therein.
Get Jingly with It
Of course, it’s kitschy. But isn’t that the whole point of the holidays? The sentimental, feel-good, time of the year when it’s OK to regress into your childhood? Of course, it is—so get into the holiday spirit with lights, jingly bells on the doors, and even some holiday tunes playing softly in the background. That atmosphere puts people into a shopping mode, so be sure to get your share of the holiday pie with displays that set the tone for the holidays.
Send out Gift Suggestions Early
Given the choice, most people would love to wrap up their holiday shopping early—so they can take the time to enjoy the season with friends and loved ones. Send out gift suggestion lists to your customers—together with an order form or the URL where they can order the products or services. Give them a discount for shopping early—and you’ll earn their thanks for saving them money as well as time.
Give Out Stocking Stuffers
Here’s where you can get creative. Pens, candy bars labeled with your business logo, even mugs filled with hot chocolate mixes will be a hit—especially when people need to find small, inexpensive gifts to fill their loved ones’ stockings. For kids, try stickers or puzzle toys—even calendars and pencils for school. Make sure the items you give away have your contact information. If the item is useful, people will remember you long after they’ve stowed away their holiday gear.
Sweeten the Pot with Extra Value
During the holidays, think about including a low-dollar gift card with any purchase over a certain dollar amount. Your customers will appreciate the gesture and thank you with doing more business with you all year ‘round. In addition, you could also offer free shipping—a welcome relief for those with loved ones who live far away.
Extend Your Hours
Make it easy for your customers to drop by after work by extending your hours in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Publicize it well in advance, so people will know that they have that option. Display holiday hours on store windows and doors.
Sponsor Holiday Events
Get your business out in front of the revelers by sponsoring a holiday parade, ice skating show, community dinner, or other special festivities. Not only does this build goodwill in the community, but you’ll be able to meet a lot of potential customers in the crowds that attend.
Run a Local Search or Online Ad Campaign
People do a lot of their preliminary holiday gift planning online. Start plenty ahead of time to plan your strategy, but time your actual campaign to coincide with the peak holiday shopping season. With today’s data capabilities, Facebook and Google advertising can actually target the types of people most likely to buy your product. Limit the campaign to a certain geographical area for best results.
Promoting products before the holiday season and marketing your business for the holidays can be an activity that lets your imagination run wild. Use these tips to help you boost your business not only for the holidays, but also for the days and months afterwards.