Business

#ShopSmall: SMB Marketing Tips for the Holiday Season

November 19, 2020 by Andrew Clark

If you’ve been into a store lately, you’ve likely already been bombarded with marketing related to the upcoming winter holiday season. This may leave you thinking, “What is going on? Every year the holiday season promotions keep getting earlier!” Even being a marketer, I can empathize with your feelings, and it does seem like in the “always-on” economy means traditional sale seasons are becoming a thing of the past.

Despite the growth of Amazon and other digital marketplaces, there’s pushback happening at the local level, notably with the creation of initiatives like Small Business Saturday. For those unfamiliar with the day, Small Business Saturday began in 2010 with the backing of credit card company, American Express. It aims to celebrate American small businesses and encourage consumers to shop locally. To illustrate its significance, consider these 2019 statics from the National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB:

Business boomed during the 10th annual Small Business Saturday, bringing in an estimated $19.6 billion in revenue for small independent shops and restaurants—a new record. Last year, shoppers spent an estimated $17.8 billion.

A bit of forethought and creativity is necessary to take advantage of the excitement around Small Business Saturday and the following weeks that lead up to the winter holidays. This year’s shopping experience is surely going to be different given the pandemic preventing the usual in-person experiences some businesses rely on. With this in mind and knowing many small businesses have been forced to pivot to online operations, I’ve pulled together 6 SMB marketing ideas well-suited for this winter holiday season.

man and woman with boxes in shop

Make Customers An Offer They Can’t Refuse

It may seem obvious, but to get consumers’ attention and stand out from competitors in your market, you’ll need to offer something unique. Below are a few ideas for Small Business Saturday promotions that aim to drive sales and more importantly, build a lasting relationship with customers:

  • Special deal of the day: buy-one, get one; buy one, give one (company donates to a charity on behalf of a customer with each purchase)
  • Pair related services/products with one another into a holiday season-only bundle
  • Partner with a neighboring small business on a Small Business Saturday promotion that complements each other’s products
  • Offer a free gift with each purchase
  • If running PPC ads, consider using the promotion extension to showcase a special online discount
  • Give a discount for signing up for blog, newsletter, or providing contact information

man and woman online shopping

Get the Word Out About Your Offer

After deciding upon your Small Business Saturday or holiday season offers, it’s time to promote it to individuals who might be interested. A good starting point for your marketing efforts is asking yourself, “Where do my customers look for information and deals related to my business?” Unfortunately, and despite what some of my peers in marketing may say, there’s no set answer to this question; you know your audience probably better than anyone else.

That said, here is a sample of the promotional activities you can use to attract people to your business, as well as their pros and cons. Keep in mind that a combination of different ones is likely necessary.

Social Media Advertising

Pros: No budget minimums; detailed targeting based on interests and demographics; ability to reach desired customers fast; ability to track engagement with ads

Cons: Requires some level of graphic design experience for visual assets; it might not be relevant to your business or its target audience

PPC Advertising: Search, Display

Pros: No budget minimums; detailed targeting based on interests and demographics; ability to reach desired customers fast; ability to track engagement with ads

Cons: Requires initial research around relevant keywords (Search) and audience targeting qualities (Search and Display); requires some level of graphic design experience for visual assets (Display); you’ll need to do competitive research to understand what are appropriate bids for your ads to deliver results

Get some tips on how to effectively run PPC campaigns in our “How to Avoid Wasting Ad Spend on Google Ads” whitepaper.

Email Newsletter

Pros: Ability to reach people in their inboxes; creative freedom; text-rich messages can be included; service providers typically offer free plans up to certain subscriber thresholds; ability to track engagement

Cons: Requires an existing email list; need some graphic design experience for creative elements

Media/Influencer Outreach

Pros: Benefit of tapping into existing communities who might be interested in your business; removes a bit of the burden when it comes to creating content

Cons: Collaboration may entail paying money or in-kind for advertising (media) or attendance/coverage (influencers); ROI might be unclear; requires letting go of some creative control with regards to content

Website Blog Post/Pop-up

Pros: Leveraging an owned platform; ability to repurpose message to other mediums (social media, email, ads) and drive traffic back to your site

Cons: Unless you’re already getting a lot of website visitors daily, your message may go unnoticed

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