The holiday season is always an important time for retailers and an opportunity to bolster sales before the end of the year. This year has taken its toll on local small businesses across the country, putting even more importance on the holiday season. In 2020, many small business owners believe upcoming holiday sales will either make or break them.
Now is the time to start planning your marketing campaigns for the holidays to engage and entice customers. According to research from the National Retail Federation, businesses should expect consumers to spend $1,050 each this holiday season. More than half of that total will go towards buying gifts for others.
As customers get ready to spend thousands of dollars for the holidays, local small businesses need to prepare for this boost in sales. Here’s how.
Make a calendar
Marketing experts recommend implementing holiday season strategies by the end of October or the beginning of November. Yes, those dates are weeks away, but they’ll be here before you know it. The best way to start planning your holiday campaigns begins with a calendar.
With a blank calendar, identify key dates such as Black Friday (November 27), Small Business Saturday (November 28) and Cyber Monday (November 30). If you ship products to shoppers, mark the final date you send out purchases so they’ll arrive in time for Christmas. Note any dates your business will close to give you and your employees time to celebrate with family and friends.
Decide on sales, discounts and other special offers
With your holiday season calendar, you have an outline for when your customers expect you to offer discounted prices and special purchase incentives. Your next step is to decide when you’ll host different sales, giveaways and discount days. Note on the calendar when these sales events will take place.
For instance, while major retailers like Walmart or Target own Black Friday, there’s still an opportunity to grab some of those post-Thanksgiving sales. Many small businesses opt to offer smaller discounts on Black Friday while providing teasers about more extensive sales on other days, such as Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday.
How to choose the right marketing methods for the holiday season
While there’s value in learning the best practices for various marketing tactics, now is not the time to educate yourself. Instead, rely on professionals that already understand the methodologies that yield the best results. If time and budget allow, work with a marketing agency to manage your ongoing campaigns and create content. The upfront spend is worth the ROI of increased exposure and sales—especially during this high-volume season.
Maybe you currently have an employee on-staff to manage your holiday marketing campaigns. If so, this person will handle a variety of tasks. This includes creating marketing materials, disseminating this content, monitoring performance daily and adjusting tactics to address insights from real-time analytics.
You’ll also want to analyze the performance of previous marketing campaigns to determine what delivers a worthwhile return on investment. Maybe last holiday season you invested in email marketing, PPC ads and handouts featuring a special coupon? Review the available data to see which tactics drove customers to your business. With this information, establish goals to help measure the success of your campaigns.
Holiday marketing strategy ideas
There’s no lack of options when it comes to marketing your business. To make the most of your holiday marketing budget, thoughtfully choose which tactics to implement.
- Email: Email marketing allows you to segment your email recipients into different groups. From there, craft unique messaging for these email groups that speak to their interests and buying behaviors. Share discount codes and information about new or special inventory in stock with applicable groups. Email marketing provides real-time analytics about the performance of your campaigns so you can adjust your efforts as the holiday season takes place.
- Search Engine Marketing: Setting up PPC ad campaigns for specific dates (like Cyber Monday) allow you to drive traffic to your site. You’ll also want to update your Google My Business listing and use this platform to engage shoppers with discounts. Improve your SEO ratings by publishing blog posts and landing pages related to the holidays.
- Social Media: Use social media marketing to engage with your shoppers. Increase your posting frequency. Post updates about sales, discounts, new merchandise and anything else to stay top-of-mind with your target audience. Social media also offers advertising options with incredible targeting capabilities too.
- Website: Regularly update your website throughout the holiday season. Add new products and services. Detail upcoming sales and discounts you’re offering. Implement a responsive website design that functions correctly across all devices (computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones). For those small businesses that ship items, add a countdown clock for days remaining to purchase gifts that’ll arrive in time for the holidays.
- Influencer Marketing: Get local celebrities with large online followings to promote your business. Ask them to post recommendations for your company on their social media feeds and blogs. Also, consider working with a local nonprofit to generate donations for them in exchange for promotion on their social media channels and in their holiday email messaging.
- Printed marketing materials: Many local businesses rely on printed marketing collateral like flyers, handouts, mailers and coupons. Combined with targeted mailing lists or an every door direct mailer (EDDM) campaign, this is an effective way to blanket local advertising opportunities. At the very least, invest in a holiday card to send out to your most loyal customers.
Marketing campaigns with authenticity
Everyone is looking forward to a joyful, merry holiday season this year. The most important aspect of marketing your business during this time is staying true to your brand. You’re a small business based in a local community. Don’t just try to copy what major corporations do to get customers. Market to your target audience using your distinct voice and unique perspective to engage people.
Marketing strategies that come from a place of authenticity resonate more than those that don’t. Think about the value you bring to your customers’ lives. Then, offer that value to them in your marketing materials.
Research shows that 49% of consumers “have made a purchase specifically to support local small businesses during the pandemic.” Tap into that increased desire to support small businesses during the holiday season. Market to these people using goal-oriented marketing campaigns.