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22 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Local Businesses

22 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Local Businesses

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: November 29, 2016

Small Business Saturday is over, but it’s not the only opportunity for local small businesses to capture customers’ dollars this holiday season. Whether you’re a retailer, restaurateur or own a service business such as a hair salon, there are plenty of opportunities to market your biz for holidays. Here are 22 ideas to get you started.

  1. Check in with last year’s customers. Who bought from your business during the 2015 holiday shopping season? Reach out to them with email marketing messages, special offers or direct mail pieces. This is a great tactic for service businesses who sell services needed annually, such as carpet cleaning or HVAC servicing.
  2. Partner with other businesses near you to host a holiday shopping event, such as a sidewalk sale. Restaurants can sell small portions of their menu items to attract even more traffic.
  3. Hold a contest or raffle. This is a great way to get customers involved with your business and increase foot traffic.
  4. Team up with another local business and offer discounts for people who have a receipt from your partner store (and vice versa). You can make it a complementary business (such as a toy store and a children's clothing boutique) or just base the partnership on proximity (such as a restaurant next to a movie theater).
  5. Add entertainment to your store. Take it one step beyond holiday decor and music by actually hosting musicians, storytellers, face painters or magicians—whatever makes sense for your business. Promote the performance online and with outside signage to attract passersby.
  6. Display art from local artists on your walls (and let customers buy it). You can change the offerings every few weeks to keep it fresh. Have an art opening with invitations and refreshments whenever you add a new artist.
  7. Create a photo op. Get creative with holiday photos with Santa. They’re not just for kids: Set up a time for pets to have their photos taken too. Don’t have room for Santa photos in your location? Team up with other local businesses and your Chamber of Commerce and find a space nearby that can host Santa (and drive traffic to your businesses in the process). For example, on one retail shopping street near me, Santa greets children in front of a local bank every year.
  8. Teach your customers how to do something holiday-related. Holiday crafts, a gift wrap clinic, or lessons in cooking a special holiday dish are all ideas for holiday how-tos.
  9. Hold special holiday hours. Your customers have busy lives, and you're competing with e-commerce businesses that are open 24/7. Expand your hours if possible to accommodate as many customers as you can. Be sure to promote the extended holiday hours on your website.
  10. Get social. In addition to promoting all your sales and events on social media, you can also share useful tips related to your business. For example, a retailer could share various gift guides (such as gifts for teachers, grandparents, boyfriends). A catering company could share ideas for party planning and decor. A carpet cleaning business could suggest ways for making a house guest-ready (including, of course, cleaning the carpets).
  11. Hold VIP events for your best customers. Tap into your customer data to determine which customers are your big spenders. Then hold events just for them, such as an after-hours sale where your store is open only for VIPs or a holiday open house.
  12. Develop special holiday-themed offers. For instance, an auto service station could offer a “Going to Grandma's House” tune-up to get the car in shape before a long trip. A hair salon can promote a “New Year’s Party Package” to do people’s makeup and hair on New Year’s Eve day.
  13. Use socially responsible marketing. Choose a local charitable organization to help for the holiday season. You can donate a percentage of sales from one day, or all proceeds from one specific product purchase, to that charity.
  14. Think of the children. Your neighborhood undoubtedly has at least one charity organization that provides holiday gifts to underprivileged children. Get your customers to participate by making donations or donating gifts they buy at your store.
  15. Get customers to gift themselves. Most people end up buying at least a few presents for themselves while they’re doing their holiday shopping. Capitalize on this tendency by offering specials to encourage it, such as “buy one, get one free” or “buy one, get one for a friend.”
  16. Give away free gifts with purchases over certain amounts. This is a great way to encourage customers to spend a little bit more than they otherwise would.  You can even offer different gifts at different spending levels, such as a small gift for a purchase of $50 and a larger gift for purchases over $100.
  17. Sell gift certificates or gift cards. Gift cards are perennially one of the most popular gift ideas for holiday shoppers. If your store isn’t already offering them, you’re missing out on a huge potential source of income. Put gift cards close to the checkout register and promote them with signage throughout your store.
  18. Sponsor or participate in holiday-related events in the community, such as a Christmas parade or New Year's Day fun run. You can donate money, product, or have a presence at the event, such as a restaurant selling refreshments at a parade.
  19. Do a “12 Days of Christmas” or “Countdown to Christmas” promotion with something different every day. For example, you can offer 50 percent off a different popular product or menu item each day, a different gift with purchase each day or a different percentage off the total purchase each day.
  20. Use direct mail. Most people are swamped with promotional emails at the holidays. Stand out from the pack by using direct mail. Keep costs down by mailing postcards. You can even send out gift cards, such as a card good for $15 off a $75 purchase—these often motivate customers more than percentage off coupons do.
  21. Distribute door hangers to targeted households in local neighborhoods.  If your business is very neighborhood-oriented, such as a restaurant that delivers, door hangers can create awareness among your target customers.
  22. Use time-sensitive offers. During the holidays, everyone is shopping on a deadline—whether that's Christmas, Hanukkah or just the day of a holiday party they’re planning to attend.  That makes time-sensitive offers especially effective.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades