9 Creative & Budget-Friendly Holiday Marketing Ideas

Every year, the holiday season sparks a nationwide transformation. Customers who normally need to warm up to a purchase stay in a perpetual buying mood. An indulgent spirit spreads throughout the population, building enthusiasm for great deals. And shoppers finally give in and treat themselves to products they put off buying all year.

The National Retail Federation expects 2017 retail spending to reach $678.75 to $682 billion in November and December, a 3.6 to 4 percent increase from 2016. Raising the stakes in marketing should be a top priority for every business owner.

After all, most retail industries rack up about 20 percent of annual sales during the holidays. Don’t worry if you have a small budget for holiday marketing. With smart planning, you can design low-cost promotions to control expenses as sales go up.

When swamped with choices, customers open up to brands that simplify buying decisions. Use this window of opportunity to show your commitment to customer value. Here are 10 creative holiday marketing ideas to inspire your seasonal campaign.

1. Create a seasonal landing page

Tweak your website to point customers straight to your holiday offerings. Holiday shoppers do most of their preparatory research online. Make it fast and simple for customers to know what inventory, deals, or coupons you have available. A themed landing page can showcase promotions in one place and target different customer segments. You can add more than one call-to-action to direct customers to the information they’re looking for.

2. Host a holiday photo session

Customers appreciate a chance to squeeze in holiday photos between shopping, decorating, and wrapping. Boost traffic to your store with a free holiday photo op with Santa Claus. To offset the cost, offer one free photo and give customers the option to buy packages. You can partner with a local photographer and collect email addresses from everyone who signs up. Ideally, you’ll gain good leads from your investment.

Make sure your store has festive decorations and promotional displays. Many customers will stick around to shop, and they like the convenience of finding seasonal items all in one place. Why not hand out cookies and milk to keep kids in a merry mood while they wait?

3. Send custom holiday cards or emails

A thoughtful gesture can keep your business on a customer’s mind during the holidays. Take the focus off selling, and use holiday cards to thank customers or follow up on a purchase. Turn to your customer database to find unique ways to customize each message. For instance, think about the diverse projects of a home renovation business. One card might say, “We hope your new windows are keeping out the winter chill. Thank you for your business this year.”

Showing a touch of human kindness reminds customers of the people behind your business. Emails work just as well and may be a better option if that’s how you normally communicate with clients.

4. Offer gift cards

Gift cards make it easy for customers to check off a lot of boxes on a big shopping list. They’re a common impulse buy when customers are stumped on what to get. Use your website, store signs, and counter displays to make sure shoppers know you offer gift cards. You can even build buzz among your loyal customer base with clever email suggestions. Remind customers to send loved ones to your store to pick up a fail-proof gift.

Cards are also a great income stream, since you get cash upfront without a huge dip in inventory all at once. For a lower cost option, print your own gift certificates, instead of cards. Just make sure you have a way to authenticate them, such as barcodes.

5. Write a holiday-themed blog or webinar series

Nothing is more valuable to customers than your expertise, and it’s totally cost-free. If you can make frustrating holiday tasks easier to manage, readers will sing your praises. Plan a blog or webinar series covering topics that are interesting to your audience. If you have a physical store, you can even hold classes and demonstrations onsite.

Stuck coming up with topic ideas? Try reframing past topics for a holiday theme. You can also poll readers in advance to build a content schedule. A photographer can provide tips to snap great pet photos or avoid awkward family photos. A health food store can teach customers to make recipes healthier and avoid holiday triggers. Promote your series, and it will gain traction along the way. Give your audience a reason to share your content and drive traffic to your site.

6. Create a daily or weekly deal countdown

The way you frame a deal can make or break sales. Customers don’t like to miss out on a great offer, so create a sense of urgency. Get customers to act fast by giving them less time to make up their minds, especially if you sell online. Holidays are a great time to sell slow-moving inventory. Creating bundle deals can help you boost sales on products that rarely sell in high volume.

Give your email subscribers early notice about the promotion, and create a countdown landing page. Customers tend to tell friends about time-sensitive deals, so take advantage of the social factor. If you promote daily deals on a Facebook page, shoppers can easily share the offer with their networks.

7. Add coupons to orders

Get more profit out of the sales you’re already making. Include seasonal coupons in every order to encourage customers to come back soon. Some customers consistently spend more, so it’s less risky to offer them a larger discount.

Consider creating two or three coupon tiers to manage your ROI. For example, give bigger discounts to people who buy often or make large purchases. If you sell online, you should have more precise data to identify high-value shoppers.

8. Hand out promotional ornaments

Let loyal customers know you value their business with free ornaments. To protect your bottom line, limit the free gift to customers who meet the minimum purchase amount. Custom ornaments are available at a wide range of price points. You can choose whatever style suits your budget and create memorable decorations without breaking the bank.

Be thoughtful about the ornament design. Customers may not hang an ornament that’s nothing more than ad. Choose a shape, style, or message that relates to your brand, and print your business name and logo on one side. A well-designed ornament will hang in customer homes every year, keeping them connected to your business.

9. Extend your store hours

During the holidays, customers shop later than normal on many weekdays. Keeping your store open a little longer can earn you some goodwill. But save yourself the effort if this doesn’t really apply to your customer base. Try sending out a survey weeks in advance to gauge interest in holidays hours.

Coming up with cheap marketing ideas is easy if you put yourself in a customer’s shoes. Picture the experience you want to have when walking into a store or shopping online. Basic touches, such as themed decor, holiday scents, and festive music, can create the right ambiance.

Be thoughtful and accommodating during this busy time. Many customers are rushing around getting things done. Make their lives easier with incentives like free shipping and gift wrapping. Small acts can build customer loyalty and improve sales long after the holidays.

Support your holiday promotions with customized marketing products for your business.

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