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12 Last-Minute, Low-Cost Holiday Marketing Tips for Your Small Business

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12 Last-Minute, Low-Cost Holiday Marketing Tips for Your Small Business

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: December 3, 2012 Updated: December 3, 2012

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". 

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About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


Great Marketing Tips for Small Businesses. I operate a small business marketing company in Atlanta, Georgia and will share these tips with my clients.
I appreciate your knowledge. The tips are really useful. Yes it becomes very difficult to make sale on holidays but I hope with the priceless tips that you have mentioned my task would become easier.
Great tips..I use the 2nd tip every year already..
I read several of your articles on the SBAs website. I recently started a virtual assistance business, and I was reading start-up related articles when I noticed that your name kept coming up as the author. I thought, ‘this lady has a lot to say that is relevant to what I need to know—I should follow her on Twitter.’ Thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom and knowledge. Coline
I am still receiving emails from online retailers for after Christmas sales. It is kind of annoying, I don't know why I sign up for these things. The after Christmas sales are better than the before Christmas sales.
It's great. Thank Caron. This is helpful for my location business.
I think you're a skilled writer, congratulations .. Every article written by you, help us.
Awesome tips! visit my link below for more information.
great article and well written
All Tips are great Caron!! This is the month of shipping. Everyone is thinking about the best gift to purchase for his love ones. This is the time for all businesses to gain the attraction of customers from different attractive ways. These tips are not only for small businesses but large businesses can also use these tips.

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