As a small business owner, you know it’s time to hustle when the jingle bells. Holidays are a time when people are ready to whip out their credit cards, willing to spend big.
While there are plenty of great ways small businesses can market themselves around the holiday season on a tight budget, it can be quite a tall order to stand out from thousands of other businesses promoting their holiday offerings, especially if your end-of-year marketing budget is dwindling.
So, instead of running deeper and deeper discounts, take a good look at six of the finest low budget marketing ideas for the holidays which are easy to implement and won’t break the bank.
1. Get Creative on Social Media
Approximately 3.5 billion people (or 45% of all humans) actively use social media. An average of 2 hours and 22 minutes is spent per day per person on social networks. What’s more, 54% of these browsers use social media to research products, and 71% of Internet users are more likely to purchase from a brand they are following on sites like Instagram or Facebook.
And so, social media is one of the most effective and affordable marketing ideas to source new customers and develop sustainable relationships with existing ones.
This holiday season, crank up your social media activity and get creative with what you post. Apart from posting announcements about discounts, deals, and new products, try to share lifestyle content that gives people a glimpse into your brand’s culture. You can also produce content that explains the different ways to use, gift and wrap your products.
Create your own branded holiday hashtag and use that in your holiday posts to gain more traction, especially on Instagram and Twitter.
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2. Run a Holiday Hashtag Contest
One of the easiest marketing ideas to implement is combining branded hashtags with contests, you inspire more user-generated content.
That is, it provides an incentive for users to mention your brand (and thus, to some degree, endorse it) in their social network. Hashtags can get your contest to trend (go viral), which will increase brand awareness, engagement, and ultimately, sales.
Andrew Schrage, the CEO, and co-founder of Money Crashers, a personal finance blog, recommends holding contests with affordable gifts as prizes. “You could launch an initiative where the best video submitted to Instagram on a particular subject will win a prize,” he says. Such submissions for contests can be tracked via the use of branded hashtags.
Simply put, if you’re not leveraging social media during holidays to promote your business, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table.
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3. Reward Loyal Customers
Who doesn’t like to be rewarded for their loyalty? Everyone does, of course! And what better way to celebrate the holidays than to delight your loyal customers?
Holidays are the perfect time to thank those regulars, who should be at the top of your holiday marketing plan. Give your long-running and loyal customers something unique, like a sale that is exclusive for them. You could also give them custom branded gift cards and other goodies, such as a giant fortune cookie with a personalized message inside, or even something handmade, such as freshly baked cookies!
This is a simple marketing idea that will let your customers know that they’re cherished and their support is appreciated. It might just make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
4. Sprinkle Some Festiveness on Your Logo
While this may not be feasible offline, you can decorate your brand’s online presence by adding a bit of holiday cheer to the logo. Get your graphic designer to modify the logo so that it matches the festivity, then update all your social handles (and website) with that temporary logo.
Google does a great job with tons of creative logos (doodles), albeit it’s a bit too much to emulate that as a small business. Still, add in some seasonal decor to your own business logo – pick something that really reflects your brand’s unique voice.
5. Offer an Early Bird Promo
Many shoppers prefer to get their shopping done and dusted well in advance. Hosting early-bird benefits, giveaways, and raffles is an effective marketing idea that will help build early momentum and those footfalls would tend to snowball as the snow starts to fall.
For instance, you could hand out free surprises (such as gift cards or vouchers) for the first twenty customers who spend $50 or more. This is an excellent way to encourage people to spread the word about your offerings.
6. Team up with Neighboring Businesses
Did not see that coming, did you? Yes, it’s better to put competition aside during the holidays and think instead about how you can join forces with fellow business owners so you all can reap the rewards of frugal holiday marketing. You don’t need any extra cash for this nifty marketing tactic.
In particular, team up with neighboring businesses to offer cross-business discounts, issue coupons for specific products, or provide promotional gifts with purchases above a specific value. Collaboration is a great way to improve your business’s presence and motivate people to buy.
You can partner up with complementary stores or eateries to offer customers a limited-time special. For instance, an ice-cream shop could collaborate with a nearby bistro to offer special discounts on each other’s respective products. This will increase foot traffic and facilitate purchases in both businesses.
If you run an online business, don’t fret – you can still benefit from a business collaboration. Find and connect with online influencers in your industry, such as bloggers and YouTubers. Give them your product in exchange for a review blog post or video.
Yin Yin Wu, a co-founder of Botany Skincare, says she gives products to bloggers or social media influencers in exchange for gift guide features. This doesn’t just bring more traffic to her products but also helps establish more brand credibility and trust.
That said, it doesn’t mean you should send out your products to anyone who has a large following. You need to connect with people whose brand and values align with yours, Wu says. “For example, right now we are collaborating with an Instagram influencer who focuses on clean beauty and loves the vision of our brand,” she says.
Over to You
‘Tis the season to grow your customer base and convert one-off buyers into faithful followers. Start your holiday marketing preparations early to have a better chance of distinguishing yourself from your competitors.
Whatever you do, don’t settle for boring and predictable promotions. Leverage the above-mentioned ideas to make a big impact on a not-so-big budget. And if you have better tips and tricks on how to market creatively during the holidays, do share them in the comments below!