5 Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on a Budget
Last updated 10/29/2020
The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are getting cooler. That can only mean one thing: It is time for a final push to grab your customers’ attention with a holiday marketing campaign.
If you haven’t outlined your holiday marketing campaign yet, it is time to get started. The holidays are the ideal time to put your brand at the forefront of your target audience’s mind. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales account for 20% of all retail sales!
At CMA, we love the holiday season. In addition to the festive cheer, it is the time of year we help our clients implement creative promotions and marketing campaigns to support a final revenue push.
As you may have already seen, retail stores and larger businesses tend to step up their promotions during the holiday season. If you want to stay top-of-mind throughout a time when people are feeling generous, you need to intensify your marketing efforts early.
Amid the pandemic, there is no better time than NOW to start planning your holiday marketing campaign. As the coronavirus continues, consumers are focusing on gifts, decorations and specialty food items to deliver much needed holiday cheer to friends and family. You may have even noticed that your competitors have started building the anticipation earlier this year by sending holiday promotions, reminders and discounts.
Getting the attention of your audience during the holiday season is no easy feat as brands continue to innovate and capture consumers’ attention with creative marketing campaigns. Remember, creativity is key to winning mindshare!
Engaging holiday marketing campaigns have progressed from a few glitzy ads to identifying unique, interactive ways to connect with audiences through multiple marketing channels. The goal is to inspire customer loyalty and sales.
The key to successful holiday campaigns for small businesses is to keep it simple: pitch one idea, one benefit and one emotion in each message. The holiday season is not a time to experiment with new messaging. You know what resonates with them. Afterall, you’ve worked hard to build a relationship with your customers throughout the year. Give them the customer experience they have come to expect.
Holiday marketing is just one of many small business marketing challenges. During the holiday season, marketing your small business could be a particularly arduous task due to time and marketing expertise challenges. As a small business, CMA understands those marketing challenges firsthand, especially during the holidays.
Here are 5 holiday marketing ideas for small businesses on a budget:
1. Create a holiday marketing campaign
When approaching holiday marketing, don’t just think in terms of a one-off marketing piece. Instead, create a multi-channel marketing campaign that includes digital marketing, content creation, email marketing and social media. Plan early, err on the side of simplicity and use a content-driven marketing approach.
Consider this example as you execute a single strategy across multiple channels:
A holiday card is an excellent place to start. One of the biggest benefits of a holiday card is that it offers you an opportunity to give your holiday marketing campaign “legs.” Along with mailing it to your customers and prospects, you can promote it through your “owned” channels, such as your website, e-newsletter and social media.
What’s a better way to get into the holiday spirit, than to receive a holiday card in the mail? In today’s digital age, mailing a printed holiday card enables you to be more personal and adds an element of nostalgia to your campaign. Mailing holiday cards to your vendors, customers and prospects is a smart business strategy that provides a 10-fold return on investment.
Your design, message and timing will impact how well your holiday greeting is received. Keep the “holiday” messaging broad, add a personal note when possible and be sure to get your holiday card in the mail early—any time after Thanksgiving is best. Otherwise, it will lose its impact if it is received too late.
CMA has been creating its uniquely branded holiday card for more than 25 years and has received dozens of awards for its creativity. Each year, fun photos of the company’s employees are intermingled throughout the design. The combination of creativity and people reinforce CMA’s branding and corporate culture.
If it fits within your budget, another way to keep your business at the forefront, is by mailing a unique gift or token of appreciation along with your marketing piece.
Brainstorm different gift ideas that:
- Complement your theme
- Reinforce your branding
- Include contact information
Bonus points if it can be used all year round and doesn’t require hefty mailing costs.
Another idea is to provide a special offer. Depending on your business, a holiday promotion can consist of:
- An “exclusive” holiday sale
- Limited time holiday offer that creates a sense of urgency
- Discount code or rewards
- Free initial report, trial or consultation
- Bonus content or a free downloadable resource
Consider promotion ideas, your unique selling proposition (USP) and how you want your prospects and customers to come through your sales funnel.
Holiday email marketing is one of the most cost-effective vehicles to reach prospects and customers to drive the seasonal sales boom. In addition to the impressive data on the benefits of email marketing, email marketing statistics show that people look forward to receiving emails on special occasions, such as holidays and birthdays.
Sending emails during these events can increase revenues by as much as 20%. The special occasion makes it feel less like a “marketing email.” You’ll also usually catch people when they are more receptive to opening your email and converting. To get started, create a marketing calendar that outlines your holiday marketing campaigns.
If you have a social media marketing and/or other direct marketing campaign in place during the year, then you should have been capturing email addresses through a landing page. Segment your lists and send personalized emails to the customers and prospects on that email list. Email them a digital version of your holiday card, send an exclusive promotion, invite them to a local event or give them a sneak peek at limited edition holiday items. Even if the holidays aren’t a particularly busy time for your small business, you can always send a seasonal greeting.
Email marketing makes it easy for users to share information on social media. Regardless of how they interact with your brand, this will ensure that your message will be delivered to your target audiences.
To encourage social sharing, post your holiday marketing piece on all of your social media platforms, including the most popular ones for businesses, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Be sure to create a branded holiday hashtag. Rather than using a generic hashtag, such as #HappyHolidays or #MerryChristmas, a branded hashtag that uses your company’s name, such as, #CMAHolidayTip allows you to dominate the search feeds on social media channels for specific phrases. Remember, consistency is key. Use your branded hashtag in every holiday marketing message.
2. Team up with a local charity
What’s a better way to get into the giving spirit than to join forces with a local charity during the holidays? Like other marketing initiatives, small businesses should be aligning themselves with local charities all year round and especially during the holiday season. It’s an effective way for small business owners and their staff to be visible in the local community.
Besides the “feel good” benefits, small businesses can share their good deeds on social media. This will show community support and increase positive brand exposure. An added bonus is that you’ll gain followers and engagement.
You can work with a local charity by:
- Volunteering your time
- Donating needed items
- Speaking at local events
- Lending your expertise
CMA cares about its local community. It’s a vital part of who we are. As such, the firm has dedicated more than 3,000 hours to its community, over the past three decades, through volunteering, fundraising and offering pro bono services. Throughout the year, especially during the holidays, CMA partners with local organizations to help bring awareness to their cause through our integrated solutions.
3. Offer useful, interactive holiday content
The key to any successful content marketing campaign is having an active blog, with high-quality content.
Some of the advantages of having a blog include:
- Positioning your executives as industry thought leaders
- Showcasing your expertise
- Validating your small business
The holiday season is an ideal time to focus your blog on holiday-related topics, which will be of particular interest to your audience.
CMA has an active blog all year round, which provides helpful tips on marketing and association management related topics. During the holiday season, the focus shifts to themes related to marketing during the holiday season. It’s imperative to create a content calendar and follow it so that blogs are posted in a timely manner.
Consider posting interactive content on your blog to further engage your audience. Afterall, interactive content, such as quizzes, polls, interactive infographics, etc. gains two times the conversions compared to passive content. Remember, it should evoke emotion and involve interaction from your audience.
4. Hold a festive contest to spark social media engagement
People love winning things! Free giveaways and contests create a sense of urgency and demand for “limited supply” items, which immediately becomes more valuable in the mind of your customers. It could be the smallest trinket, which someone likely doesn’t even need. You can consider partnering with other small businesses and offer their products as prizes. Nevertheless, contests never get old!
As part of your holiday marketing campaign, think about holding a holiday contest. This will help you showcase your offerings in a fun way. If the person who wins your contest positively shares your business offer or product, that’s an added benefit! Referrals are one of the best ways to gain business and social media is essentially a public referral forum.
Contest ideas to consider:
Purchases: Give previous customers an increased chance to win
Social shares: Ask participants to share their entry on social media and/or tag a specific number of friends
Website traffic: Design a landing page that is specific to the contest
Share to win—invite customers to win through a video contest or photo caption contest
You can even use contests to capture user-generated ideas, by having your customers or prospects brainstorm a tagline or ideas for a new product or service. Remember, Instagram hashtag contests are golden!
Think outside of the box by partnering with other local businesses—such as a restaurant, spa, hair salon, coffee shop and/or retail store—that likely will donate an item or gift card.
That small business will capitalize by gaining new customers, as well as additional marketing exposure through your holiday marketing campaign. Be sure to update your home page and social channels with a holiday-themed banner and/or offer gift suggestions that will prompt users to make a purchase. Holiday countdowns, free shipping codes and product gift guide roundups are just a few ways to make the holiday rush work for you!
5. Use digital marketing to prompt customers
Most consumers begin their search for holiday gifts or services online. Search engine marketing ads provide you a quick way to get in front of them for relevant searches.
Make sure you are using online advertising and running pay-per-click (PPC) ads to get your holiday promotions and sales in front of people who may not even know your company exists. With PPC advertising, you can reach an entirely new audience by simply targeting interests, buying behavior or demographics.
Google AdWords allows you to target people based on keywords, to position your business near the top of searches—in a matter of hours—even if that’s not where your website would organically show up. Use Google AdWords to ensure your business is found by your target audience at the exact time they are searching for your products or services.
Do you want to learn more about how to market your small business during the holidays? Contact us today, to get the conversation started.