Branding Business Marketing

15 Tips to Successfully Market Your Small Business This Holiday Season

Image courtesy of Pixabay

It’s that time of year again!

It’s just-past-Halloween and stores are filled with cinnamon-scented pinecones, turkey decor, and Christmas ornaments.

The holidays are here.

And, if you don’t have your holiday marketing strategy ironed out, you’re already behind. Way behind.

While consumers are thinking about how they plan to celebrate and what gifts they plan to buy, businesses across the nation are focused on how they can capitalize on the epic holiday spending that is about to commence.

The holidays are a major source of revenue for many businesses.

Retailers can make up to 30% of their annual income during the holidays. And, some sources argue that holiday shopping is integral to the health of the economy itself.

There’s no question that the holiday season poses a great financial opportunity for any business that plans appropriately.

As a small business, you probably don’t have the budget or resources to create a national holiday television ad or a digital interactive extravaganza like Google’s annual Santa Tracker website. But, don’t let that get you down. There’s plenty that you can do.

So, jump-start your small business’s holiday marketing strategy with these holiday marketing suggestions for 2018.

2018 Holiday Marketing Ideas

Deliver a package worth unboxing

Like it or not, gift-giving is an inescapable focus of the holidays.

And, whether you prefer giving or receiving, beautifully-packaged presents have become a visual shorthand for the holiday season. So, conjure the spirit of the holidays and make your customers feel special with a fabulous unboxing experience.

As we recommended previously:

…it’s time to start thinking about how you can make your unboxing process special. What does the outside of the box look like? What do you see as soon as the box is opened? How is the product wrapped? Is there a message or gift inside?

Treat each step of the unboxing process as a new opportunity to impress, surprise or delight the recipient.

Heading into this holiday season, let your clients or customers unwrap a wonderful experience (and some cleverly placed marketing materials) along with their most recent purchase.

Timing will be important for this tactic, as you want to make sure your intended audience receives this package early enough for them to act on any marketing call to action you include in the packaging.

And, if you want to reach out to new leads as well as existing clients and customers, consider sending a small free gift instead of relying on the packaging for an item they’ve already purchased. This will also trigger the psychological principle of reciprocity, encouraging the recipients to make a purchase.

If you need help with your product packaging design (the design of the product packaging) or package graphics (the design of the graphics on the packaging), consider reaching out for professional help.

And, for goodness’ sake, make sure to offer free shipping. In this day and age, consumers expect it. Failure to meet that expectation could sour their experience and undermine your efforts.

Target your current customers

Every year millions of people travel home for the holidays to be with their families. The holiday season is positively steeped in images and stories emphasizing the importance of our families and loved ones.

And during this time, people’s sense of loyalty and desire to connect is heightened. This makes it an ideal time to reconnect with past and current customers.

Research shows that it is 5-25 times less expensive to maintain relationships with current customers than it is to acquire new ones. So, it is definitely worth the effort to strengthen your connection with current and past customers at the holidays.

Consider sending special offers designed to re-engage with clients or customers you haven’t heard from in a while. Remember that emotional appeals are more effective than logical ones. (In fact, this might be a perfect opportunity to put that holiday unboxing tactic to work!) For a more in-depth look at how to successfully re-engage with past customers, check out this article.

And, don’t forget to consider what comes next. It’s all well and good to reach out at the holidays, but if you don’t have a strategy in place to follow up and cultivate these relationships then you’re going to lose any gains that you’ve made.

Optimize your content for the holidays

The holidays are important to your business’s bottom line. And it’s worth pulling some new tricks out of your marketing hat to get the most from the opportunity the holidays present.

But, don’t forget what you already know.

Search engine optimization and social media should still play an important role in your holiday marketing strategy.

Incorporate seasonal keywords into your marketing copy and your written content when appropriate. And, share holiday content on social media with appropriate images and hashtags.

Publishing search-engine-optimized web copy, blog content, and apt seasonal social media content should be tactics that you’re already employing regularly. Don’t forget to take advantage of this low-hanging fruit by tweaking it for the holidays.

Using generic holiday hashtags and keywords may draw in audience members who wouldn’t ordinarily find your content. For more targeted results, research industry-specific holiday keywords and hashtags to include with your content and social media posts.

For some terrific examples of effective holiday marketing campaigns, take a look at this post from Hubspot.

Show how your product or service is relevant this holiday season

What holiday-related challenge can your business solve?

This is the big question you should be asking as you prepare your business for the coming holiday season.

The holidays are coming. The money will be spent – it’s inevitable. And, every business is trying to figure out how to get their slice of that pumpkin pie.

You could just throw a big sale. Consumers love (and frankly expect) a good discount. Whether you’re a Black Friday or a Cyber Monday sorta business, discounts and sales should be a part of your holiday marketing strategy.

But, that’s not going to set your business apart from the competition. Not when everyone is throwing sales and offering discounts.

If you want to stand out from the crowd (and reap a larger percentage of the profits) you need to show your audience that you’re not just saving them money – you’re also solving a problem.

Does your e-commerce business offer unique and exotic gifts for those impossible-to-shop-for men in your family? Maybe your catering business can offer Thanksgiving meal planning services for families with food allergy sufferers. Or your spa can offer packages to help moms escape from the holiday bustle or recover after New Years.

Whatever your business, find a way to show how you can make your client or customers’ holiday experience a bit less stressful and a lot more jolly.

Stay True to Your Brand

Not every brand embodies the spirit of Norman Rockwell. But, that doesn’t stop many businesses from leaning into that Rockwellian interpretation of idyllic holiday coziness.

I can’t emphasize this enough – don’t toe the standard holiday line if it doesn’t suit your brand.

Your holiday marketing choices must reflect your brand. If they don’t, they’ll come across as insincere and disjointed from your brand identity.

Celebrate the holidays, but do it in your way.

Is your brand cheeky and snarky? Then your holiday marketing should be, too. If your brand is casual and geeky,  formal and conservative, or chic and cozy then lean into that.  Don’t let your brand voice or message be pulled off course by the desire to fit in with what a holiday message “should” look like.

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer REI does a great job of celebrating the holidays in their own, on-brand, way.

Marketer, project manager, and podcast host Justine Timoteo explains:

The entire product line of REI is centered around outdoor clothing and gear. Instead of just marketing their products for people to purchase this holiday season, they crafted a new, outside-of-the-box message — one that even went against the commercialization of the season, but stayed true to their brand…

REI broke with traditional messaging and encouraged people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors rather than spending Black Friday inside shopping.

Follow REI’s lead. As you plan your holiday marketing strategy, be true to your brand. Your authenticity will inspire consumers and clients to trust and engage with your business.

Here are more holiday marketing ideas that can help your small business improve its bottom line in 2018:

  1. Partner with another business and run a cross-promotion campaign with them.
  2. Partner with a local charity and donate a portion of your holiday sales to that charity.
  3. If you sell products, offer special holiday gift-wrapping.
  4. Give away free samples of your products or offer a free gift if people buy something.
  5. Update your branding for the holidays with a cheerful, holiday-themed logo design to show your holiday spirit.
  6. Offer gift cards (and gift card bonuses). These are very popular, especially during the holidays.
  7. Have a holiday photo contest for your customers.
  8. Create a holiday-themed website landing page to showcase your special promotions.
  9. Send special holiday-themed emails and newsletters.
  10. If you have a physical location, dress it up with lights and a fun holiday display.

There are many more ways to get in the holiday spirit and help your customers celebrate. Let your imagination guide you to build trust and engagement with your customers and prospects.

After all, trust and engagement lead to purchases consumers can feel good about – and happy holidays for everyone.

About the author


Katie Lundin

Katie Lundin is a Marketing and Branding Specialist at crowdspring, one of the world’s leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo design, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. She helps entrepreneurs, small businesses and agencies with branding, design, and naming, and regularly writes about entrepreneurship, small business, and design on crowdspring's award-winning small business blog.