Thursday, November 3, 2016

From Holiday Local Marketing on a Small Budget

Use these marketing ideas to connect with customers and see a bigger ROI from holiday local marketing without busting your budget.

The holidays are approaching FAST. Local businesses enjoy an advantage when it comes to building relationships with their customers, gaining trust in the community, and connecting with their consumer base in a way the big boys just can’t. Even with fewer resources, you can ace holiday local marketing on a small budget by engaging customers where they live.

holiday-local-marketing-starts-earlyResearch has shown that a large section (36%) of consumers start their holiday shopping in September.  If you don’t have holiday marketing mapped out for your small business, you’ll need to catch up to get your slice of the billions spent every November and December. There is still time for your business to enjoy the spending frenzy that takes over the end of every year.

Take advantage of the festive and giving atmosphere by positioning your business to be top of mind for your customers.  According to the National Retail Federation, 20 to 40 percent of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year.

BONUS TIP: Take a minute to review your data from the local marketing for last year’s holiday season and make a note of what gave you the best ROI and figure out how to reproduce and increase those results before you start planning.


Big Holiday Local Marketing on a Small Budget

Ready to bring back old customers and entice new ones to come through the door?  Try these holiday local marketing ideas to put new life in your end of the year sales race.

Personalized Customer Appreciation

Encourage repeat business and spread the holiday spirit with personalized messaging that shows how much you appreciate your customers. Faithful customers should get special attention during customer appreciation, and new customers or prospects should get your top-notch, above and beyond, holiday customer service.

Customer Appreciation Holiday Local Marketing Ideas:

  • Holiday cards offering special appreciation pricing, sneak previews, or special offers.
  • Customer appreciation event or day where you show off what is available for the holidays, give out special coupons, hand out samples, offer free cider, candy or treats, and really lay on the charm.
  • Encourage repeat business by offering a 10 to 20% discount off the next total purchase price if the customer presents a receipt of a previous purchase from November or December at check out by Christmas Eve.

BONUS TIP: You’ll make a bigger impact and stand out from the crowd if you deliver fresh messaging to engage overwhelmed consumers bombarded with the same message from your and every other business.

Calendar and Advertise Weekly Specials

Designate each week between the week of Halloween and the week of New Years as having a special theme with discounts for, and focus on, one product or service.

Weekly Specials Holiday Local Marketing Tips:

  • Do inexpensive in store and storefront signage, website/blog/email promotion, and formatted in a readable calendar style that showcases your specials.
  • Put your money-makers, or introduce something new you are excited about, Thanksgiving week (to include Black Friday and Small Business Saturday) and the week leading up to Christmas.
  • Make a show of X-ing out the “cyber” in Cyber Monday and relabeling it “Come-In Monday” highlighting your deepest discounts to encourage customers to shop locally for the same savings they find online.


Attend, Volunteer, and/or Sponsor Local Community Events and Charities

While non-profits could certainly use your money, they are equally in need of volunteer time and services.  Sometimes donations of supplies and surplus are the biggest help of all.

Without touching your marketing budget, you can contribute to the community or assist a non-profit.  There are dozens of ways your expertise can benefit a good cause and even more things your two hands can do to pitch in.

Not only are you doing a huge good deed, but it is also a tremendous opportunity to network with other contributors and possibly have your business mentioned as a sponsor, contributor, donator or volunteer.

Focus on a specific event or program for this holiday.  Regardless of what the organization can provide for you in return, make sure your customers and community know what you do for the community and how they can contribute to a group or cause your business is passionate about.  Spread the word through your blog, press release, community paper/magazine, or simply placing photos in your place of business.

Promote and Combine Marketing with Neighboring Businesses

Holiday local marketing efforts are multiplied when you partner with other businesses. By pooling resources, you can share in a bigger scope of marketing activities.

Think of what businesses in your area compliment your business. Look to your physical neighbors for cooperative opportunities that build awareness of your business and bring more foot traffic to your area.

Combined Marketing Ideas for Local Holiday Marketing:

  • Split a larger local advertising space
  • Exchange in store or online advertising space
  • Give a coupon for the other business with a purchase from your business
  • Set up a small display of free samples with your store information at another business

Push Gift Certificates HARD with Local Holiday Marketing

This is more a product than a marketing tactic, but Gift Certificates are big money makers during the holidays because they are so easy to market and sell.  Gift certificate are also inexpensive to create, can be managed easily in-house, and don’t require any fancy point of sale programming or extensive training to implement at a small business level.

One huge plus for using gift certificates is they are sometimes not redeemed because they are lost or forgotten, but you already have the money. Just ensure you have a gift certificate tracking system in place that outlasts the expiration dates of your gift certificates.

Tips for Local Holiday Marketing with Gift Certificates

  • Take special care to create extremely professional looking gift certificates and packaging.  Someone is receiving this as a GIFT.
  • Have a system in place for your point-of-sale system, dispersing, redeeming, and tracking gift certificates.  They should be clearly numbered and tracked at all stages from creation and packaging to sale and redemption.
  • Once you have created your gift certificates, treat them like cash money.  Properly secure them from theft and mismanagement.  You don’t want to have to honor a gift certificate that was not properly purchased.
  • Create gift certificates for a certain dollar amount to treat it as a cash discount for point of sale purposes. Or you can create a gift certificate for a specific product, service or package, but remember you will need to create a point of sale procedure for redemption.
  • Consider including some fine print such as a two-year expiration date, noting that gratuity is not included but appreciated, contact information for inquiries or appointments, etc.

Do you have a great idea for Holiday Local Marketing? We’d love to hear it. And other readers would appreciate your tips and expertise.  Share in the comments!

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.

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