It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  That’s right: it’s time for retailers to make about 25% of their annual revenue in just a two-month span. Of course, I am talking about the holiday season (which consumer researchers define as all of November and December, covering the major holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa). The average adult American spends around $1000 during this time including gifts, food, decorations, etc.

Given the importance of this time of the year for your small business, it is essential to have holiday marketing ideas. After all, your holiday promotions are what draw consumers to you over other options during this important time of the year. If you are stuck for ideas, look no further. Here are 5 great (and simple) holiday marketing ideas that are sure to boost your sales.

 

1. Special Deals

Yes, I recognize that this is one of those holiday marketing ideas that seems really obvious. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be said. Many retailers forget that this is the #1 way to increase sales during busy times of the year. Beyond that, it really is an expectation of your customers. They expect special holiday promotions, like deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, or all three. After all, if you are not doing it, your competition is. And at that point, guess who your customer is going to choose?

If you want to stand out from your competition, one fun holiday promotion is an Early Bird Special. You could offer a Thanksgiving special before Halloween or launch your Christmas promotion ideas on November 1st.

Yes, the Early Bird idea can be risky because some consumers get annoyed by discussing an idea too early (like the Back-to-School sales in June that make teachers cry). However, if you use some creative marketing ideas, you can be very successful. For example, you can say something about how not everyone waits until the last minute. Or, you can begin by saying something to the effect of, “Yes, we know. It is way too early to be talking about the holidays.” Such an approach would make a consumer smile and show the authenticity of your brand. Besides, nearly 40% of customers start their holiday shopping before November, so you have data to justify your decision.

 

2. Offer Free Shipping

Few holiday marketing ideas offer as much promise as offering free shipping. Statistics regarding how much free shipping influences consumer decisions are pretty eye-opening. 90% of shoppers say that free shipping is their biggest incentive to shop online. A whopping 93% of shoppers say that they will take extra steps to ensure that they get free shipping, the most common step being adding more items to their cart. 83% of shoppers say that they are wiling to wait an additional 2 or more days if it means free shipping. And 86% of shoppers have abandoned a cart because of the cost of shipping. Clearly, then, offering free shipping is one of the best marketing strategies for small business.

However, many small business owners may wonder how they would be able to offer free shipping. In essence, there are three options that will bring this most powerful of holiday marketing ideas to fruition. The first is that you simply choose to absorb the shipping costs. If so, you hope that you have enough increased volume in sales to offset those shipping costs.

The second option is that you raise your prices slightly to cover the cost. If the uptick is negligible, most customers will be fine with that.  After all, even if the total cost turns out the same, the vast majority of customers won’t even notice. However, if they see that there is a shipping charge, they get frustrated.

The third option is to put in a minimum purchase amount before free shipping kicks in. In other words, you say something like “Free shipping on all orders over $25.” This helps ensure that you make enough of a profit margin to cover the free shipping. Plus, again, many customers will buy more, just to get over the threshold.

 

3. A Giveaway or Contest

Many holiday marketing ideas involve customers being entered to win something or just being given something outright. One form that this practice can take is giving a gift to the gift-giver. For example, when a customer makes a purchase of $25 or more from your store, they get a $5 gift card for themselves.

Other creative marketing ideas take the form of a contest. For example, a popular promotion around the holidays is a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. Customers can enter by providing contact information, and then every day for 12 days in December, you draw one name to receive a special prize. Besides bringing traffic to your store/site and increasing your brand awareness, a contest like this also gives you contact information that you can use to send additional promotional material throughout the year.

One final hallmark of many successful holiday campaign ideas is to create a free download for customers. The materials that you choose to make available can take many forms that can relate to the season. For example, your landscaping business may want to offer “A Guide to the Best Plants for Outdoor Holiday Displays.” The website for your private therapy practice could offer a guide to reducing holiday stress. Thought leadership pieces like these establish your industry expertise while also allowing you to put in a small plug for your business, if desired. Of course, your downloads do not need to be thought leadership pieces. Coupons, product catalogs, demos, FAQ sheets, and more also work to engage with your customer.

 

4. Create Gift Cards

The popularity of gift cards surprises many people. Almost 60% of people include gift cards on their wish lists—the most popular item reported in the National Retail Federation’s research. Of course, this makes a lot of sense, given the flexibility a gift card offers. When someone receives a gift card, they can choose the exact items they want in their exact specifications. Furthermore, they can choose to wait until a new item’s release.

Of course, the benefits of a gift card abound for the business as well. Most importantly, of course, gift cards offer another avenue for you to make revenue, since that is all that some customers are seeking. As an added benefit, most users of a gift card actually exceed the card’s total, which leads to additional money for you. Finally, you give yourself an edge against any competitors that do not offer gift cards. For all of these reasons, I would say that offering gift cards is one of the most essential marketing strategies for small businesses. (Of course, you can offer gift certificates as well, though those can make your brand feel old-fashioned.)

Perhaps you are interested in creating gift cards for your small business and not sure where to start. At May Dream Design, we have set up WooCommerce stores with branded customizable gift cards. Send us a message if you’d like help setting up gift cards in your e-commerce store.

 

5. Make a Mystery Basket

The last entry on our list of holiday marketing ideas is a really fun one. Take a few of your popular items and a few newer items that you are hoping to create more buzz about. Put them together in a mystery box and feature them on your website. Don’t say what’s in it, but do reveal the retail value. Then price it at something lower than that value so customers know that they are getting a good price.

Of course, mystery baskets don’t have to be reserved just for the holidays. However, the reason to include them on a list of the best holiday promotion ideas for small business is because they help to create a buzz in a crowded marketplace.  They are also a key component of many Christmas promotion ideas because they make for fun gifts.

 

Bonus: Holiday-Themed Photos and Graphics

Don’t forget to create digital marketing assets for your products to show that they would be amazing Christmas gifts or fit for the season. Here are some recent examples we did for Print A Pot’s new holiday gift box using our rentable photography backdrops.

Photo of a winter-themed Holiday Gift Box
Photo of a winter-themed Holiday Gift Box

 

Branded Holiday Graphics for your Products
Branded Holiday Graphics for your Products

 

Holiday Marketing Ideas Conclusion

Obviously, the holidays are a very busy time for retailers. However, you can never be too busy to maximize your revenue. Therefore, you must implement some holiday marketing ideas to stand out during these crucial two months. Of course, you should never be too busy to give great customer service! And don’t forget to have a great website experience for your customer.

As an added touch, you could offer gift wrapping (even if you do so at a small cost). You could also stand out by providing a quick thank you note with each purchase. However, implementing at least a few of the holiday marketing ideas listed above will offer you the best bang for your buck, so to speak. That way, you can deck the halls with your extra revenue.