We’re not here to instill panic, but the holidays are looming! It may be too early for New Year’s Resolutions, but what about those pesky end-of-year business goals?

It’s not too late to end your year strong, meet your goals, and carry the spirit (and ROI) of the holidays into the new year.

If you’re a small business, you should seize upon the opportunity that December represents to bring a festive edge to your marketing efforts. Get your holiday sales sizzling with these promotion ideas and marketing campaigns that you can get started with today.

Use these holiday promotion ideas to give your holiday marketing campaigns a boost.

1. Give Back to Your Customers

Giving is a huge part of the holiday season. Why not give back to your customers (and encourage them to keep coming back!) with a free gift, free guide, or fun holiday event?

Speaking of free guide, have you seen ours with exclusive data on how people will be shopping and searching this holiday season? 

Download our holiday marketing guide for exclusive data, tips, and strategies to make your holiday marketing a success in 2020.

Here are some other holiday promotions you can run as a part of your seasonal marketing efforts:

Thank

If you don’t have much to give, you can always give thanks! Send an email to thank current customers, and tell them about your holiday events, specials, or loyalty programs. (Check out these holiday email subject lines to get inspired for your emails this season!)

Encourage

While a fun time of year, the holiday season can also be very stressful and a strain on people’s pocketbooks – especially this year. Customers really appreciate it when a business goes out of its way to show a little love to the people who keep them running. Create deals, handouts, or swag designed to help the tired shopper on their journey. You can also run an Instagram holiday giveaway to give a little extra love to your customers.

Reward

You can create holiday-specific rewards or loyalty programs that run the length of the holiday season. There is a general influx of shoppers during the holiday season, and the added appeal of a loyalty or rewards program can be enough to get passersby to stop in, or to choose you over a competitor.

2. Offer Free Gift Wrap or Hold a Gift-Wrapping Event

Raise your hand if wrapping gifts is your least favorite part of the holiday gift-giving season.

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Consider providing free gift wrap or a gift-wrapping station for customers to make their shopping a little easier. Obviously, this holiday promotion idea works best if you have a retail location, but it can also be used for businesses like bakeries, flower shops, restaurants, and even gyms.

This not only encourages customers to come and shop at your store, but it also gives you the chance to interact with them on a personal, non-sales-oriented level. Getting to know your customers and building a sense of community will keep them coming back after the holiday season.

3. Implement a Holiday PPC Campaign to Increase Website Traffic

When you want a holiday marketing campaign that can get your business in front of searchers quickly, look no further than pay per click (PPC). It doesn’t matter whether they’re looking for the perfect gift or trying to educate themselves on home repair services, we know that people are utilizing search engines during the holiday season more than ever before. So, make sure you’re there with a search marketing campaign.

Make sure to incorporate data on how consumers are searching into your holiday marketing campaigns.

PPC campaigns can help your business get in front of customers searching for your goods or services. How, you might ask? With tailored search campaigns across Google, Bing, and Yahoo, of course! But, beware — one solution does not fit all in the world of search marketing.

Make sure you’re creating a custom strategy for each platform utilizing the keywords and phrases that resonate most with your business. (And, don’t worry if you don’t know what those are. A search marketing partner can help.)

Bonus: Make your campaigns holiday-specific by adding in verbiage specific to the season:

  • Free shipping + specific holiday search trends, like: Best Gifts for Mom
  • Any end of year sales: Book Now, Service Later
  • Plus, a combination of broad, phrase, and exact (keyword) match to guarantee you’re reaching a wide audience.
    • Broad Match keywords show your ads to people searching for things similar to their search, but not precisely the same phrase. This can include long-tail keywords, misspellings, synonyms, and other variations.
    • Phrase Match shows your ads for searches that match a phrase or are a variation of a phrase. This is especially important as people search in long-tail sentences, more so than keywords.

4. Amplify Your Offers & Events on Your Google My Business Profile 

Here’s another way to get your holiday promotions to show up on Google: Post events and offers directly to your Google My Business listing using the posts feature. Posts encourage more action from potential customers who find your business on Google search. Google Event and Offer posts are particularly useful for your holiday promotions, as they enable you to set time frames, provide redemption codes, and include terms and conditions.

Use Google My Business to amplify your holiday promotions as part of your holiday campaigns.

Reminder: This is also a great time to update your holiday hours on your Google My Business profile to keep customers up-to-date on when you’ll be open during the holiday season.

5. Put on a Holiday Referral Contest

Another great holiday promotion idea is a referral contest. Even if you already have a referral program, a holiday-themed referral contest can bring yuletide glitz to your referral outreach. Offer an attractive prize to the person who refers the most customers to your business and supply a few smaller prizes for second and third place as well.

The holidays are a time when people are swapping insider tips on where to get the best deals and the coolest gifts. Take advantage by giving your customers an added incentive to spread the word about your business.

Zazzle held a holiday referral contest to get people to subscribe to their blog.

Zazzle held a holiday referral contest to get more referral links to their blog.

6. Run a Display Campaign with Retargeting to Get More Customers

The holidays are a great time to capture more leads for your business going into the new year. Getting people to your website is a great start, but sometimes, it’s not enough. On average, 96% of visitors to your website aren’t ready to buy anything.

Think of your own browsing behavior; how long do you stay in the research phase? How many websites do you visit? One of the best ways to convert website visitors is with a display retargeting campaign that follows people as they continue their search, motivating them to convert on your website.

Retargeting allows you to bring users back to your site who have already visited.

Even better news: Targeted display advertising with LOCALiQ gets you the best of both worlds: coast-to-coast reach across the 155 million consumers that are part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, plus highly localized targeting. Plus: You can get started with a display campaign that includes retargeting today.

7. Host a Themed Get-Together

While large gatherings aren’t encouraged this year, you can still spread some holiday cheer in the form of an open house or similar event. Invite regular customers to thank them for their loyalty and help put the celebration back into the holiday season. You can make it an exclusive “insiders” event so your customers feel like VIPs.

Offer free samples of your latest products or an event-specific promotion to sweeten the deal. This is also a great opportunity to get feedback from your customers on what they want to see from you in the coming year to prepare your marketing plan.

Not sure where to start? Thankfully, when it comes to the holidays, it’s easy. Throw together some tinsel, winter-themed decorations, or red and green ribbons, and you’re good to go!

This year your holiday event to support your holiday marketing campaigns might include custom masks.

This year, your event might even include some custom face masks, like these.

Lastly, be sure to encourage your customers to take pictures and post to social media! One clever way of doing so is introducing a special holiday hashtag for the event, such as #[businessname]VIP or something holiday-themed. Consider hiring a professional photographer who can take photos of guests and the event itself. This will provide you with ample material to spread across your social media platforms.

8. Create a Social Media Campaign to Spread Good Cheer (AKA Brand Awareness)

Speaking of social media… Social connections go far beyond parties and gatherings this time of year. Make social a priority with organic posts that build community and increase awareness for your business plus a paid campaign to drive conversions.

The duality of using organic social with paid social ads allows you to grow a community and then focus on converting those newfound fans.

First, grow your audience with Facebook ads that use high-level messaging to target potential customers and clients. Here are some ideas of content that you can share:

  • Educational videos that explain your business differentiators.
  • Posts highlighting sales, end of year deals, and anything else you’re offering.
  • “Unboxing” content that allows people to see your products/business up close.
  • Reviews praising your services, employees, and business.

Facebook ads are essential holiday marketing campaigns that can help you capture new customers.

Next, continue to engage with your audience with organic social posts. Use what you know about your audience to create content that will catch their attention, educate them about your offerings, and motivate them to click. Also, make sure you’re responding to any comments or engagements you’re getting on your page or on your ads to help build your online community.

9. Offer Pre-Book Specials

Certain industries have ebbs and flows throughout the year. But, just because winter might be your business’s off-season doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from offering holiday promotions as part of your seasonal marketing strategy.

Offer special discounts to customers who book now for spring.

Pre-book specials can be a great holiday marketing campaign for your business.

A contractor, painter, or outdoor boot camp fitness program, for example, may expect a slow winter. However, in just a few months, customers will be ready to work with your business — so give them a little incentive now when they’re in the spending spirit.

10. Provide Gift Discounts

Obviously, the bulk of holiday spending is around gifts for loved ones. Think about how you can provide discounts for gift buyers — especially those who might be interested in buying multiple items or services from your business.

Our research also found that 45% of shoppers will buy items for themselves while buying gifts for loved ones. Take advantage of this by offering a buy-one-get-one half-off special so people can buy a gift for their loved ones and a gift for themselves!

Service-based businesses can also take advantage of this by offering bundle pricing on services — a dance studio could run a gift special to buy 10 classes for the price of eight.

Offer special gift promotions for your holiday marketing campaigns.

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11. Run Holiday Specials with Other Businesses

Another great holiday promotion that encourages spending this season is to pair up with other small businesses. According to Google, 66% of people planning to shop more at local businesses this season. Make it easier for customers to support community businesses by partnering with others in your area.

Partnering with other local businesses is a great holiday marketing campaign that can help you build community in your area.

This paper company partnered with another business on gift wrapping.

This works best with similar businesses or businesses that naturally go well together — like the paper shop and design studio above. For another example, if you own a spa, you could pair up with a local wine shop to offer a “spa day and bottle of wine” package. A package like that might just make someone buy one for a friend and one for themselves!

12. Host (Virtual!) Classes or Tutorials

Right now, many of us are looking for ways to stay occupied while we’re still largely staying home. I’ve never seen so many people learn to make bread in my life. So, now’s a great time for your business to offer virtual (or in-person if done safely) classes or tutorials as a holiday promotion. Your customers will love it, and it’ll be a great way to get them to engage with you!

Offer classes related to the products you sell. If you are a flower shop, host a flower arrangement class, for example. If you’re a bakery, you can host a series of classes, all with different themes — for example a pastry-making class, or a cake-decorating class.

Try hosting a virtual class or tutorial as part of your holiday marketing campaign.

This restaurant offered a virtual wine pairing event — guests picked up the materials from the restaurant and gathered at home on Zoom for a tutorial.

While you can host classes for free, don’t forget that they can be a great source of extra revenue as well. Outside the holidays, offer a free trial class, and provide additional frequent specials to encourage sign-ups.

Bonus: Advertise Weather-Related Discounts

As businesses in four-season climates know, winter can often be a difficult season. When it’s cold, windy, and snowy out, few people (understandable) want to endure the biting outdoors. However, after a while, people feeling bored, and even stir crazy. Help spark motivation to (safely) venture outside the house by offering weather-related promotional discounts.

Get creative with your holiday marketing campaigns with weather-related offers.

Offer customers different specials based on temperature drops and weather forecasts. For example, if you run a small bar, offer an exclusive discounted drink or a few dollars off select popular drinks if the temperature drops below 32 degrees. Restaurants could also offer free hot chocolate or a free warm drink when the temperature drops below freezing.

If you’re not in an area that experiences a true winter (I’m writing this from Texas — my last winter holiday was spent sweating through my tacky Christmas sweater), you could offer specials when your city hits a record low — or a record high.

Bring Extra Cheer to Your Holiday Season

Don’t miss out on the excitement of the holidays this year. By utilizing even just a few holiday marketing ideas and promotions above, you can increase your holiday sales by exponential amounts.

Let’s recap those 12+ holiday promotions and marketing campaign ideas:

  1. Give Back to Your Customers
  2. Offer Free Gift Wrap or Hold a Gift-Wrapping Event
  3. Implement a Holiday PPC Campaign to Increase Website Traffic
  4. Amplify Your Offers & Events on Your Google My Business Profile 
  5. Put on a Holiday Referral Contest
  6. Run a Display Campaign with Retargeting to Get More Customers
  7. Host a Themed Get-Together
  8. Create a Social Media Campaign to Spread Good Cheer (AKA Brand Awareness)
  9. Offer Pre-Book Specials
  10. Provide Gift Discounts
  11. Run Holiday Specials with Other Businesses
  12. Host (Virtual!) Classes or Tutorials
  13. Advertise Weather-Related Discounts

With the magic of the season, you’ll find upward trends in your revenue. A very merry season indeed!

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