The holidays are the biggest shopping season of the year…but if you’re a small business owner, competing with the big guys can be a challenge. Like any business, you want to get your piece of the holiday shopping pie, and setting yourself apart from the competition is an absolute must.
But how do you convince buyers to step away from the big-box giants and take a chance on a business that’s a relative newcomer? With exciting holiday marketing for small businesses through creative strategies and promotions, of course.
The cornerstone of small business marketing for the holidays, of course, is Small Business Saturday, traditionally held the Saturday after Thanksgiving (and the shopping madness of Black Friday weekend). The event itself has been in operation for nearly a decade and has continued to grow every year. In 2018, for instance, 104 million shoppers nationwide spent a record high of $17.8 billion at small businesses both in-person and online.
The year-over-year growth of Small Business Saturday is great news for business owners. Not only can they expect greater traffic the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but this kick-off event can be expected to give businesses greater momentum throughout the rest of the holiday shopping season.
Need a little help coming up with a unique strategy for marketing your small business during the holidays? Whether you run a traditional brick and mortar store or an online business, we’ve got a few ideas for holiday marketing for small businesses to help you win the biggest shopping season of the year.
Beef Up Your Website and Online Presence
Whether you own an online or traditional store, your customers expect you to have a web presence. Obviously, you can’t sell things online without one, but even if the bulk of your business is done in person, you still need a way for people to find you.
And the truth is, if you don’t have a website, most customers won’t go to the effort to check out your business. They’ll usually just write you off and move on to the next guy. This is because Google is often the first port of call for searching for a particular business, and if you don’t have a site that shows up on that search, you’re out of luck.
So if there was ever a time to give your website a holiday makeover, ‘tis the season to do it. You’ll want to make sure you have a website that is easy to navigate and makes it clear to customers what you want them to do—make a purchase, attend an in-store event, etc.
Equally important is to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile use. Since the majority of cosumers browse from their phones, the last thing you want is a website that loads perfectly on a desktop but is a mess when it comes to loading on mobile devices, or worse, takes too long to load. Your customers have no time to waste, and if your site doesn’t pop up as quickly as possible, they will give up and move on to the next thing.
Beyond having a great website, you need to have an active presence on social media—and the holidays are not only a great time to post, but to get your prospects and customers involved.
Hashtags and contests are a great strategy for holiday marketing for small businesses because they not only build relationships with these people, but are also an organic way to spread the word about your business.
For instance, if you own a cosmetics store, encourage your customers to take pictures of their haul after a sale. Encourage comments and likes on Facebook by asking them to tag a friend. Or, hold a contest where customers and followers can post a holiday-themed photo or story.
Create Audience-Specific Blog Posts and Gift Guides
In a previous post about Black Friday marketing, we talked about how holiday gift guides can be a great way to capture leads from your website. However, there is more than one way to use a gift guide as a tool for holiday marketing for small businesses.
Consider creating multiple gift guides or blog posts that link to specific audiences. For example, if you own a pet supplies store, create a guide specifically for cat or dog owners. If you own a toy store, create guides by age group, such as toddlers and 8 to 10-year-olds.
You can also feature different products on social media with these different audiences in mind.
Partner With Charities
The holidays are about giving, and partnering with a charity or nonprofit organization can help spread the word about what your business is up to and share its values with the public. Since people in the holiday spirit naturally are drawn to give back to a good cause, charities make a great resource for holiday marketing for small businesses.
One way to go about forming such a partnership is to choose a charity that somehow relates to your business. For instance, if you own a bookstore, choose an organization related to literacy. If you own a toy store, give back by donating to a charity for kids. If you own a restaurant, give a portion of the profits to an organization related to providing meals for people in need.
Another idea is to think about the story behind your company. All small businesses begin with a person and an idea, and you as the owner have your own story to tell. Think about an issue that has personally impacted your family and find a way to connect it with your business.
For example, maybe you have a family member who served in the military. You could choose to partner with an organization that helps veterans during the holidays.
You could also choose a local cause to donate to, such as a family in need, a ministry at a local church, or a food pantry.
Personalize Your Customers’ Gifts
One strategy for holiday marketing for small businesses that will help set you apart is providing a unique gift experience for customers. Free gift wrapping is a good example, as it not only makes shopping more personal, but also provides a service to customers.
Everyone’s to-do list is lengthy during the holidays, and taking time to wrap a gift is just one less thing your customers will have to worry about when they shop with you.
You can also personalize purchases by letting customers pick out a free card to go with their gift if they are shopping for someone else. This works both in e-commerce and traditional stores—at checkout, give them options of cards to select. If they are purchasing online, give them a box to type their message and either handwrite it or print it before mailing their order.
Regardless of how you choose to personalize your customers’ gifts, it gives them a unique experience that they won’t find at larger stores, which will help build loyalty to your brand and keep them shopping with you in the future.
Events and Entertainment
If your store has a physical location, special events can not only help spread holiday cheer, but serve as powerful tools for holiday marketing for small businesses.
For example, book local musical talents to perform at your store or provide ambient music while people shop. You will get people through the doors who might not have otherwise come in and create new customers as a result.
You can also hold holiday events like storytime and crafts for kids to occupy them while their parents shop. Or, bring the whole family through the door by getting Santa to make an appearance.
If you live in a small town where there are a lot of small businesses in one area, another idea is to partner with other business owners for a special holiday event. Have entertainment and special deals running at all stores and invite the community to attend.
Need more ideas for holiday marketing for small businesses or like the ones you’ve seen here? We’d love to talk to you about them. Click here to schedule your free Double Your Sales Review Strategy Session. You’ll connect with one of our Digital Marketects for an exploration of 73 ways to start doubling your sales and transform the way you market.
Also—need some help with your website? Go to our homepage to download our free One Size Fits All Website Template, our quick and easy way to learn what goes into building a website that works and how you can get started with yours right now. Let us help you grow your business this holiday season.