As the holiday season approaches, the advertising world erupts with “We are here!” marketing campaigns. Businesses launch their best thought-out marketing strategy in hopes of rising up above the advertising noise. However, unlike the tiny Who from Whoville floating on a speck of dust through the pages of Dr. Seuss’s book, it’s not about the noise you make. It’s about the glue that makes your marketing message stick.
Create a holiday marketing plan that puts people first. Appreciate your customers or give to the community. Here are some holiday marketing tips that will ensure people remember you, long after the holiday.
Create a Memory: Host an Event
Bring Santa to town
Bring Santa to your Christmas open house. Parents can bring their kids for a less stressful, more personal Kris Kringle experience instead of waiting in crowds at the mall. Have everyone sign up for a drawing for a prize, preferably one that involves your product or service. Toss in some cookie decorating with simple sugar cookie cutouts, icing, decorating bags and tips and sprinkles. Make sure to include boxes or plastic containers so they can take their creations home safely.
Create photo opportunities with Santa and other props. A snowman, reindeer, or a giant gingerbread house are a few ideas that make festive picture backdrops. The Tippecanoe Place, a historical mansion turned high-end restaurant in South Bend, Ind., features a giant gingerbread house in their ballroom. This tower of confection has become a traditional “talk of the town” draw for the community.
Wine and Cheese
Sprinkle a little class into your holiday marketing event with a wine and cheese appreciation open house. Or beer and cheese. Invite a local winery or brewery and have them offer samples and possibly other regular bar items. You can make your hors d’oeuvres as simple or as elaborate as you like.
Enjoy the time mingling with customers. Include a drawing for your product or service and add a bit of mystery and fun by presenting envelopes for guest to choose from containing various discounts or gift cards. How about gifting bottles of wine or beer from the company supplying the drinks? Be sure you attach a holiday tag to all gifts wishing your customer a Merry Christmas on one side and your company information on the other.
This works particularly well for businesses who work with the elderly. Hosting a craft bazaar gives seniors the opportunity to show off their homemade items and, hopefully, make some money. Limit your crafters to the seniors you serve, or extend an open invitation to the community. Don’t forget to include a booth for your own organization, offering freebies, games or contests to draw people to you.
In any case, if you don’t host it at your place of business, make sure to include a booth for your own organization. Attract attendees to your booth with freebees, drawings and/or contests.
Hosting an event is a great opportunity to meet customers and build relationships. You can also collect contact information, including emails, from attendees. Just make sure you give them a checkbox with their email to accept email marketing. No one like Spam and that won’t win any Christmas cookie points with people.
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Touch a Heart: Lead a Charity Effort
Christmas is a time when people feel the most sentimental which triggers their desire to give. Offer people the opportunity to fulfill this desire. Choose a charity to help during the holiday and begin collecting the items they need, such as food, gifts, clothing, or even money.
Promote or Host a Charity Event
Many charities host holiday donation drives. Hop on board by helping to promote the opportunity for people to give. Include the information in emails, invoices, receipts and any business correspondence you send via mail. You can include a promotional ad on your website with a link for customers to donate as well.
You could also offer to donate a percentage of sales during a certain period of time. For example, if you own a housekeeping business, donate 25% of your earnings to the homeless center between Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the holiday many people appreciate delegate the deep cleaning chores so they have additional time for gift shopping and decorating. Plus it prepares their homes for guests.
Donation matching is popular among many businesses and charities. Offer to match donations for those giving to your chosen charity. You can cap the amount you give per donation or overall: “Stellar Janitorial Services will match your donation up to $50.” Or, “We will double all donations until we meet our $5,000 goal.”
Organize a team of volunteers to help local charity efforts. There are many organizations that seek additional help during the holidays. You could wrap gifts, collect or deliver toys or food items, work at a soup kitchen or entertain the residents at a local nursing home. Find what you want to do, then recruit a team from your customer or employee base.
Another option growing in popularity, according to Fortune, is giving your employees paid time off to volunteer. For example, at Nustar Energy, employees “can use up to 60 hours (7.5 days) of paid time to volunteer.” The organization is also responsible for an annual event that benefits the homeless. They organize the entire event and, in the last 8 years, they’ve managed to raise more than $27 million.
Build a Relationship: Unique Gifting
Create a Gift Guide
Another unique holiday marketing tip is to market your business by offering something of value to your customer. Give them some help by offering them gift-giving ideas. Focus on a gifting theme, and create an online gift guide for customers. Include pictures and links for easy reference.
Lindsay Kolowich gives a few examples in her article, such as gifts with a personal touch, to get the party started or for the digital nomad. The company she refers to actually posted four different gift guides throughout the holiday season.
When deciding on a theme, choose one that compliments your business. This way you can include your products or services in the guide as well. If you own a janitorial cleaning service as an example, slip in some of your cleaning products or services. After all, who wouldn’t want the gift of housecleaning for Christmas?
The Gift of a Loyalty Program
Don’t have a loyalty program? Gift your customers this season with rewards for their continued business. This year, Capitol Hardware, LLC, sent out holiday cards revealing their new rewards program that begins Jan. 1. Customers who purchased over a certain amount in 2017 will receive discounts throughout 2018, and they’ll have an opportunity to qualify again next year.
While it’s easy to feel like a tiny speck in the giant world of holiday promotions, it’s good to remember that marketing isn’t always about how loud your “We are here!” it’s about how unique your message is. Touch a heart. Build a relationship. Make a memory. These are the techniques that will help you build your customer base while also nurturing your current customers.
Author: Cindy Lynn Sawyer
Cindy specializes in writing features, how-to articles and informative pieces on topics of interest to entrepreneurs and homeowners. She owns and operates her own company, Capitol Hardware, LLC, with her husband. As an experienced business owner, she has developed expertise in various areas of entrepreneurship, but emphasizes, “There’s always something new to learn.”