11 Holiday Marketing Tips & Strategies to Make the Most of the Season

For many small businesses, holiday marketing plays an essential role in meeting annual goals for sales and profits. It’s a time of year when consumers are eager to spend money on gifts and entertainment — and they may also be open to spending on other things when they spot a good deal.

Here at Addition Financial, we’re gearing up for the holiday season and spending a lot of time discussing holiday-related financial issues with our business members. Since holiday marketing has been a hot topic, here are 11 holiday marketing tips and strategies to help you make the most of the season and achieve your holiday sales and growth goals.

When Should You Start Holiday Marketing?

Anybody who pays attention has noticed that holiday marketing continues to creep backward into the year. It’s not uncommon to see Christmas decorations in stores while Halloween candy and costumes are still on the shelves. Yet 68% of consumers say they don’t believe holiday marketing should start until after Thanksgiving.

You might think that the obvious answer to when to start holiday marketing would be the day after Thanksgiving, but that’s not necessarily the case. Even if you wait to launch your campaigns until Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday, you’ll need to be thinking about your holiday marketing plan long before your campaigns go live.

It can take months to plan an effective holiday marketing campaign, so you’ll need to start thinking about strategy two or three months in advance. Your strategy should include goals, marketing channels, budgeting and specific ideas for campaigns.

What Are the Benefits of Holiday Marketing?

Before we list our best holiday marketing tips, here are some of the ways that a well-thought-out holiday marketing strategy can help your business:

  • Increase brand awareness. Consumers are far more likely to see your brand messaging when you engage in holiday marketing than they are at other times of year. That’s because they’re out shopping and thinking about gift giving, so holiday marketing can increase awareness of your brand — something that can help you long after the holidays are over.
  • Expand your audience. People who might not normally shop for your products may learn about them thanks to holiday marketing. While some of these people might not need your products on an ongoing basis, many may discover your products while buying them for others and purchase them again for themselves.
  • Grow your social media following. The holidays are the perfect time to build your following on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. Users are more likely to be looking for new products and services during the holidays than they are at other times of year and you can craft campaigns to attract new subscribers and followers.
  • Beat your competitors. Not every small business engages in holiday marketing because they rely on existing customers. If you decide to spend some money on holiday marketing, you can use the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors — and maybe win some of their customers.

You can use holiday marketing to achieve specific goals such as attracting new subscribers or differentiating yourself from your competitors as well as making sales.

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11 Holiday Marketing Tips and Strategies to Try 

Now, let’s review some of the most effective holiday marketing tips and strategies that can help you make the most of the holiday season.

#1: Launch a New Product

The first thing to try is using holiday marketing to launch a new or updated product. You may want to start this strategy before Thanksgiving to give yourself some time to garner customer reviews. One way to jump-start your launch is to offer a preview or early holiday sale for loyal customers.

Of course, you could also create and launch a holiday-themed product or stock such products for your store. Many consumers enjoy buying holiday items and may even share these items with their friends.

#2: Celebrate Small Business Saturday

It can be difficult to make your holiday marketing heard over the huge campaigns run by major retailers. For that reason, you may want to step back from Black Friday and focus your marketing efforts on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, also known as Small Business Saturday.

For many consumers, supporting small local businesses is a priority. You can take advantage of that by running a Small Business Saturday sale. You can announce it on social media and send out a special announcement to your email marketing list to maximize your sales on that day.

#3: Expand Your Target Audience

For your year-round marketing, you most likely focus on a tightly-defined demographic of people who are in the market for your products or services. That makes sense most of the time but during the holiday season, you may want to think big.

Because gift giving is common during the holiday season, there may be many potential customers outside of your usual demographic. Think about who those people might be and brainstorm some holiday marketing ideas to reach them with search engine or social media marketing.

#4: Give Samples to Encourage Gift Giving

Keeping in mind that some of the people who buy your products during the holidays may not be familiar with them, one strategy to consider is handing out free samples to allow shoppers to experience your products first-hand.

This strategy is particularly helpful for retail stores. For example, a specialty food store might set up a sampling station for patrons and a beauty supply store might hand out sample sizes of popular products.

#5: Tap into Holiday Emotions

There’s a reason that many holiday ads and promotions focus on emotion to sell products and services. There’s something about the holiday season that makes keeps our emotions close to the surface.

You can use holiday emotions as a way to connect prospective customers with your products. You can inject emotion into images, ad copy, blog posts, videos and more. Just make sure the emotion feels authentic and appeals to the people in your target audience.

#6: Show Your Gratitude

Customers have a lot of choices when purchasing holiday products and gifts and you can increase the chances they’ll buy from you by making your gratitude known. 

You can increase your percentage of repeat customers by sending a thank you email or text. You may want to include a holiday discount code or early access to a new product or sale, but even a simple thank you can go a long way toward building holiday sales.

#7: Offer Free Rewards

Holiday shopping expenses can add up, so it’s important to take advantage of anything that encourages shoppers to spend more of their money with you. That may include offering a free reward or incentive.

For example, you might advertise a holiday promotion that gives shoppers a free product if they spend $50 in your store, or $75 on your website. Make sure the product you’re giving away is an appealing one!

#8: Take Advantage of User-Generated Content

You’ll need to spend some time and money creating holiday marketing content but you can also get some free content by encouraging your social media followers to share content featuring your company and its products.

If you choose this strategy, make sure to include a new hashtag that will allow you to easily search for new content and share it with your followers. You may want to encourage content creation by hosting a contest or giveaway.

#9: Create a Holiday Gift Guide

It’s not uncommon for holiday shoppers to feel stumped when buying gifts for friends and family. You can help them out by creating a free holiday gift guide that you share on social media and on your website.

The best gift guides break giving into categories. So, you might have a section dedicated to gifts for men, gifts for women, kids’ gifts or gifts under $25. You could also include a splurge section to steer customers to your most profitable products.

#10: Offer Free Shipping

If many of your customers shop online, we suggest offering free shipping as part of your holiday marketing. There’s research showing that 66% of consumers expect free shipping and that they’re likely to abandon a shopping cart when shipping expenses are added to their purchase.

The good news about free shipping is that you can take advantage of bulk discounts and adjust your prices to accommodate shipping costs. In other words, customers may still be paying for shipping but eliminating it as a separate charge can help you make more sales.

#11: Get Nostalgic

We’ve already talked about holiday emotions but there’s another component of holiday marketing you should consider. We’re talking about nostalgia. Many of us have fond memories of holidays as well as a longing for old-fashioned holiday traditions.

You can take advantage of consumers’ desire for nostalgia by using vintage fonts and images in your marketing and by creating videos and social media posts that remind your audience of those fond holiday memories.

Holiday marketing offers businesses the opportunity to maximize their sales, attract a new audience for their products, invoke emotions and expand their brand awareness. The 11 tips and strategies we’ve included here can help you fine-tune your holiday marketing this year.

Do you need financial support to pay for holiday marketing? Read about our small business loans and start the application process now.

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