Holiday Marketing Primer for Small Businesses

holidays-tipsAre you ready to make the most of the holiday season?

A lot of businesses depend on the holiday season to make their sales for the year. In fact, twenty to forty percent of annual sales for small to mid-sized retailers happen the last two months of the year. If you fit in this category, you should have a marketing plan in place to capitalize on November and December. If you don’t have one in place yet, don’t panic, this blog post will help you get a promotional plan together in no time.

For some of you, the holidays are not your prime selling season. In fact, most customers forget about you until the holiday frenzy is over. If that describes you, there are still some things you can do to capitalize on this time of year.

If You’re In Retail

There are top selling dates coming up when people are shopping in droves, looking for deals.

  • Monday before Thanksgiving – November 21
  • Black Friday – November 25
  • Small Business Saturday – November 26

If you haven’t participated in Small Business Saturday in the past, this is a great program from American Express that offers their cardholders a statement credit when they shop brick and mortar businesses that are small and local. They provide free graphics and templates you can use to let customers know they can Shop Small in your store. Visit American Express to learn more. (Link:

What’s A Good Deal For You

You should have a good deal in place to help capture the most sales. What’s in a good deal? Think about what’s worked for you before. Has it been a straight discount or a value-added offer? Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Get $10 Off when you spend $50 or more (basically 20% off)
  • Gift with Purchase (such as a free stocking stuffer)
  • Spend $30 and get $10 off your next purchase
  • Free Gift Wrapping with purchase

Get The Word Out

Once your deal is in place get the word out with in-store signage, an email campaign to your past and current customers and posts on your social sites.

In-Store Signage

Create signs you can display on your window, cash registers and throughout your store with the promotion. Take advantage of the increased traffic to grow your email list too. Encourage customers to sign up to receive additional savings in their inbox. They can sign up at the cash register or use their mobile phone to text to join. Email services such as Constant Contact offer this feature. (Link Constant Contact to:

Email Marketing and Social Posts

Repetition is important in order to ensure that everyone knows about your promotion. One email or post is not enough. So plan for at least 3 emails to promote your offer and at least 3 posts. You can send one with the details of the offer, a reminder half-way through the promotion and perhaps one more the day before the deal ends. Also, don’t forget to thank those who purchase or sign up for your emails.

Set It and Forget

You can schedule out your emails and posts in advance so you don’t have to worry about it when the holidays come. This way, you can focus on your customers and know that your marketing is running fine.

Using an email service provider will allow you to schedule the emails in advance. You can even schedule your emails to post to your social sites making the process even easier. You can also schedule posts directly on Facebook.

Not in Retail? You can still grow your business over the holidays.

If the holidays aren’t your season to sell, there are still some things you can do to capitalize on the busy season to stay top of mind with clients.

If you haven’t been sending emails to your clients, past clients and prospects, the holidays is a good time to connect with them and let them know that you’d like to start communicating regularly staring in 2017.

If you have been using email and social, you can create a special offering that gives them a head start on 2017 by offering them the opportunity to lock in a special offer now that they can use next year.

The holidays are also a great time to run a holiday contest that will help you get more fans, followers and subscribers. One of my business to business clients runs an annual Holiday Pet Photo Contest that helps her grow her email list and fan base. Your contest can be about the best decorations, food, anything that works with your business.

Are you a non-profit?

The holidays are also great time to receive end of year donations. Another great day to focus on is #GivingTuesday on November 29. It’s a global day of giving that can help you secure the resources you need for the coming year. For more details, check out