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12 Last Minute, Low Cost Holiday Marketing Tips for Your Small Business by Caron Beesley

The holiday season is crunch time for all of us – whether you’ve got gifts to buy or gifts to sell.

If you’re a small business owner facing the busy holiday shopping and dining days ahead, here are some last-minute tips to help you maximize your holiday sales.

Fine Tune your Holiday Online Campaign

‘Tis the season of countless email offers, but there are still last-minute steps you can take to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips for an effective “holiday countdown” online marketing campaign:

  • Make it easy for consumers to find holiday gift lines – Organize your website by categories such as “Gifts under $50,” “Gifts for Him/Her,” “Popular Items,” etc. If you can’t do that, use emails, social media and e-newsletters to group and highlight inventory along the same lines.
  • Offer gift suggestions – Start offering up gift ideas and suggestions early in December. Buying gifts for family, friends and business acquaintances is hard work – make it easy for your customers this year! If you want to introduce a special offer early in the month, make sure it is bound by a time limit.
  • Use shipping deadlines as a motivator – Clearly state shipping deadlines on all emails and on your website. Use this as an incentive for customers to take action ASAP.
  • Get creative – Use the 12 Days of Christmas or the eight days of Hanukkah to engage with your customers. This is all about raising your brand profile during a busy time while promoting action. For example, send out daily riddles on social media and reward winners with a special offer. Another option is to promote a “catch of the day” deal on each day of your campaign.
  • As December 25 and other holiday deadlines approach, offer upgrades on shipping services– For example, 5-day shipping orders placed on December 17 could be upgraded to 2-3 day shipping at no extra cost.
  • Build urgency into your subject lines, Tweets and Facebook posts – The week before Christmas or other gift-giving days build some urgency into your messaging. “There’s still time…,” “It’s not too late…,” etc.
  • Offer ideas for those last minute impulse purchases – Whether it’s a gift for a party hostess or an office “Secret Santa” party, start giving your customers gift-giving ideas in the last week before Christmas.
  • Drive customers offline and into your store – As shipping deadlines, use your email and social media presence to remind people of in-store deals and keep feeding them gift-giving ideas.
  • For those absolute last minute shoppers – On December 23 and 24, reach out to those who are still looking for gift ideas but have missed shipping deadlines by spreading the word about gift cards or downloadable e-gift cards.

Don’t Forget Super Saturday

The last and busiest Saturday for buying gifts is December 22 this year. Mark your calendar and plan accordingly – this is the time to offer targeted promotions and incentives. For bricks and mortar retailers, why not do a little more to entice your customers to come in during the last few shopping days before the holidays, perhaps a warm glass of apple cider or a free shoulder massage for your frazzled holiday shoppers (or their spouses)!

Restaurants and Food Service Businesses – Target the Holiday Crowd

Restaurants can do a roaring trade during the holidays, but there’s always room for more! Here are some ideas for boosting your share of holiday profits this year:

  • Work on attracting last-minute office parties or lunches – Many smaller companies wait until the last minute to treat their staff or customers – think of ways to entice this crowd. Talk to your regulars, train hostesses and servers to mention your party services when they speak to customers on the phone or in person. Promote special incentives for parties that make bookings on quiet days/nights.
  • Target the New Year’s Eve crowd – Offer incentives for customers to come and dine outside and either side of peak hours so you can maximize bookings throughout the night. You could also offer an incentive to New Year’s Eve revelers to move to the bar after they’ve dined with you.

Good luck and happy holidays! For more tips check out this transcript of the SBA web chat: “Holiday Marketing Tips and Ideas“.