10 Original Thanksgiving Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

If you haven’t noticed, Thanksgiving is a holiday of stark opposites. It’s one of the most sentimental times of the year … and the start of a mad buying frenzy. It’s about slowing down to spend time with friends and family. Yet, shoppers go into rush mode as they scour stores and websites for the perfect holiday decor or the best discount deals.

Customers have their attention pulled in a lot of directions. So how do you cut through all the promotional chatter to win the hearts of your audience?

Create experiences that unite emotional and material gains, so they aren’t in conflict. Show people how your business can solve their material problems and free up time to relax and connect with loved ones. Check out these creative Thanksgiving marketing ideas to help you stand out this year.

1. Gift a free guide

Nothing makes people happier than getting something for free. Thank clients for keeping your business alive with a free holiday guide. You can customize this idea with any topic or theme that makes sense for your customers.

Do you sell food or financial services? Teach readers how to stretch holiday resources or feed a lot of guests on a budget. Run a pet-oriented business? Give customers advice on how to house or care for pets when traveling for the holidays. Are you a pro handyman? Offer some expert advice on sprucing up a home before entertaining. The possibilities are endless.

2. Put staff in the spotlight

Customers get warm and fuzzy vibes from businesses with a great work culture, especially millennials. After all, customers reap the benefits of excellent service when businesses care about employees. If you’re not a solopreneur, show your audience that a successful business is a team effort. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, call out employee contributions that have boosted your brand.

Tell a funny story about the server who came up with a stellar cupcake idea for your bakery. Thank the salesperson who stayed late to help a customer pick out last-minute decorations for a wedding. Whatever your staff is doing to make your business great, let everyone know about it. Show customers the unique characters behind your business, making it easy for them to connect with your brand on an emotional level.

3. Offer a loyalty discount

Sometimes, a simple email campaign offering a discount can speed up holiday sales. Look over your sales data from the past few years to find customers who make big or frequent purchases close to Thanksgiving. Play up the exclusivity factor with a secret loyalty discount for this select group of shoppers.

Want to make customers feel valued? Tailor each email with recommendations based on relevant products customers bought in the past. Restricting the recipients is a good way to control your profit margin. Not to mention, you can always expand to a second tier of customers if the response rate doesn’t meet your goal.

4. Run a reinvention contest

Many Thanksgiving themes are so overdone that people are annoyed the moment they see them. Leverage that anti-Thanksgiving sentiment by challenging people to reinvent overused motifs. How about a contest to turn classic savory side dishes into desserts? Or get people to share photos and videos of the funniest Thanksgiving pageants. Quirky contests can earn a lot of social media buzz and keep people sharing content long after the holidays.

5. Showcase client success stories

Looking for a way to promote your products without shameless bragging? Draw attention to the impressive achievements of your clients. This is a great way for B2B companies to boost engagement during the holidays right before the new year brings a fresh budget.

Highlight a client’s innovative product solution or an awesome marketing campaign. Praise a client for exceptional customer service or a year of rapid growth. As you share these stories, cleverly mention how they used your products and services to achieve their goals. Showing other customers what’s possible can get them excited to try new products.

6. Get involved in community giving

Small businesses have the benefit of being surrounded by a supportive local community. Embody the Thanksgiving spirit with a fundraiser or drive for the cause of your choice. If you don’t want to host a drive, offer to donate a percentage of customer purchases.

Try to relate your efforts to your target audience. If you’re a contractor, support foundations that provide food and housing to families in need. Run a crafts or tech business? Partner with organizations that support afterschool tutoring or art and STEM education.

When you only serve a local audience, it’s smart to pick a volunteer organization in your community. Getting an emotional connection is half the battle. Local patrons are more likely to care about funding a community park, shelter, or hospital.

7. Create funny memes and videos

Visual storytelling is the fastest way to grab attention, so give customers a reason to regularly check your social media pages. Create a meme of the day or short video ad that makes fun of Thanksgiving cultural norms. HotelTonight went viral with its clever campaign about crazy family members you hope to avoid during the holidays. You can even get ambitious and mix memes. Why not put a twist on the infamous “kids table” using well-known meme characters?

8. Send a heart-warming thank you note

Some of the easiest Thanksgiving marketing ideas can have a profound impact. Remind customers you care about them with a short email or direct mail thank-you note. Make sure the tone and content tie in with your brand. Think about the feeling you want to provoke with this simple message.

Maybe, you want to inspire pride in the local community or a shared heritage. You could include a short anecdote about a heartwarming gesture you observed. Or how about praising the community for pulling together during a recent event? Customers want to know your business values the same things they do. So don’t be afraid to get a little nostalgic with Thanksgiving campaigns.

9. Host a sharing portal

Encourage others to give and receive by hosting a resource exchange. With this type of idea, you should give customers advance notice to get a good amount of submissions. Decide on a theme or group of topics to host, and ask customers to submit questions and tips related to the topic. You can host a resource portal in any way you prefer, such as a personal website or Facebook or LinkedIn group.

Let’s say you own a farm stand. Set up a portal with everything customers need to know about picking and storing produce. Ask for tips on canning, carving, and jarring or preparation shortcuts before a meal. To lessen your burden, update and include relevant resources you created in the past. Encourage customers to email you short tips and feature new ones on the front of the resource portal. If it’s a success, you can easily turn a resource exchange into an annual tradition.

10. Hold a dinner giveaway

Some people love whipping up their favorite dishes, while others just want to chow down. Offer customers the chance to win a Thanksgiving dinner when they make a purchase. Snap photos of your staff delivering the delicious dinner, and ask the winner to post about the experience. Make your logo visible on staff shirts and food containers, so everyone knows your business name.

Thanksgiving is a time when you can be lighthearted (and even a bit corny) with your marketing. Most people are swamped with errands before the holidays. Needless to say, they appreciate being able to stop and enjoy a cheerful moment. Channel the spirit of giving and gratitude to show customers your brand has meaning and value beyond sales.

Need some extra giveaways for the holidays? Stock up on gifts, polo shirts, and more with our promotional products.

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