Holiday marketing has become ever more popular with small businesses. Just look around at how frequently you see the words “sale” or “specials” combined with a holiday name such as Christmas or Mother’s Day.
No longer is it just the “big” holidays. Groundhog Day, Columbus Day, Flag Day — all are being used as marketing hooks.
Holiday marketing is not just limited to businesses that sell to consumers, either. Even companies that sell to other businesses now routinely offer Thanksgiving specials, Columbus Day sales, and Independence Day promotions.
On February 7, 2013, we partnered with FedEx Office on a Twitter chat to crowdsource tips on “How SMBs Can Take Advantage of Consumer Holidays.”
Members of the small business community jumped in to share advice and tips for other business owners in response to questions posed by FedEx Office (@FedExOffice), the host. Below is a recap of highlighted tips:
Q1. How common is it for businesses to use a holiday such as a Valentine’s Day as a marketing theme?
- “Very common — and growing. Many consumer businesses use holiday specials to generate buyer demand.” @smallbiztrends
- “You can take advantage of both singles and couples targeting each differently to generate buzz.” @sghost42
- “Restaurants, hospitality businesses, retail–those are obvious choices for holiday marketing.” @smallbiztrends
- “Valentine’s is one of my favorite marketing holidays especially being a #pet #photographer.” @FetchPortraits
- “Even some B2B businesses today (e.g., office services and PR firms) do holiday theme marketing.” @smallbiztrends
Q2. What is the most unusual example of a holiday marketing technique you’ve ever seen?
- “One local car dealership put up a giant inflatable Abe Lincoln on the top of the dealership during February.” @smallbiztrends
- “Give a kiss and get the same priced item for free.” @sghost42
- “The local beauty salon had a display of mannequin hands with heart nail art promoting Valentine’s Day manicures.” @smallbiztrends
- “Doing things like that show Fear Factor to win something!” @GoudaCheese007
Q3. Let’s focus on restaurants for a moment. What techniques can they use?
- “Certain holidays (Valentine’s Day & Mother’s Day) are huge for eating out. Print a special menu just for those events.” @smallbiztrends
- “I feel like restaurants are packed on the day of, so use specials to get people in before/after the big day.” @robert_brady
- “A temporary banner advertising holiday specials will catch attention of drive-by traffic.” @smallbiztrends
- “Daily deal sites and mobile check-ins are a great way to get me in a restaurant.” @eggmarketing
“Target busy executives and honor the special Holiday offer on another day. Perhaps for just your regulars.” @TJMcCue
Q4. What about ecommerce and retail? What should they be doing for holidays?
- “Some retailers do holiday decorations/signage year round now. They just change them for each holiday.” @smallbiztrends
- “I love free shipping.” @GoudaCheese007
- “In the ecommerce world, holidays call for banner ads/ website graphics, advertising specials.” @smallbiztrends
- “Facebook even allows targeting based on relationship status for laser-focused ads.” @robert_brady
- “If you have a last day to ship before a holiday, put that prominently on your website. It gets people to act.” @smallbiztrends
- “There’s a pizza restaurant here that offers free pizza on certain days if you have a certain name.” @DeftonesGirly81
Q5. What about holiday flyers?
- “Be creative about finding a holiday connection. Holiday-themed flyers can be good even for B2B.” @smallbiztrends
- “Love is in the air and that air runs through the vents of BUSINESSES too. But the key is CREATIVITY.” @justcallmeALLEN
- “Use flyers in unexpected ways. Example: realtors using Valentine’s Day theme “Fall in love again … with a new home.” @smallbiztrends
- “For holidays we barely consider for promotional purposes, weave in a way to use your product on a “day off.” @TJMcCue
- “The local home remodeler mailed flyers at Mother’s Day–“Give her what she really wants – a new kitchen!” @smallbiztrends
Q6. Can you take holiday marketing too far?
- “Most small business owners have the opposite problem – they don’t do nearly enough marketing.” @smallbiztrends
- “Absolutely! Like any relationship, it’s about being attentive to the NEEDS, not just frivolously spending.” @justcallmeALLEN
- “Be tasteful. Example: Unless handled carefully it could be poor taste for a funeral home to run a Mother’s Day special.” ~ @smallbiztrends
- “Holiday marketing can be accidentally taken too far if you do not time messages correctly with world events going on.” @BionicSocialite
- “A lot of biz will hammer customers with promos especially around Christmas time. You want to lure them in, not repel.” @tiroberts
Q7. Can businesses work together to give a bigger bang?
- “Here’s an idea: print up and pass out each other’s coupons in your place of business.” @smallbiztrends
- “I think local business can work together to get people shopping in their community like a raffle ticket stamped at each store.” @Shannonbison
- “Send out flyers and put up an outdoor banner to publicize the jewelry display.” @smallbiztrends
- “I think business networking is just as essential a function as people who social network, so YES.” @Unkatchable73
Q8. How can you use online techniques to support offline marketing?
- “Social media… to drive a sale or campaign to brick and mortar locations!” @Unkatchable73
- “If you have an email newsletter or list, offer holiday in-store specials through it.” @smallbiztrends
- “Use “call to action” subject lines in emails. “Book now – reservations for Valentine’s Day dinner are limited.” @smallbiztrends
- “Remarketing is a great opportunity to stay in front of people online after they visit your site.” @robert_brady
- “Location Based Services. Use check-in mobile app at the B&M place. Global net + local = Glocal.” @Lyceum
Q9. What other things can you do to prepare for the holidays?
- “Sit down right now with a calendar, highlight key holidays, and identify which ones to market around.” @smallbiztrends
“Start planning now for next year…seriously if you get a great idea start making a plan!” @stblissout
- “When holiday is over, don’t throw away signage/displays. Store them. Next year pull out, update for a head start.” @smallbiztrends
- “The best kind of holiday market research is to ask your customers directly what they want, and then give it to them.” @tiroberts
- “Keep your customers close, but keep your competition closer! ;)” @DeftonesGirly81
- “Plan ahead think of another business to collaborate with to create a great package” @Shannonbison
Thanks again to all the participants who joined us to discuss holiday marketing tips for small businesses. If you saw a holiday marketing tip that resonated with you, why not follow/connect with that participant on Twitter? And be sure to check out @FedExOffice on Twitter, and the Business Edge on the FedEx Office website.
See the full chat transcript. Please remember this recap is not a complete transcript. We’ve removed hashtags and other repetitive information for better readability.
Disclosure: FedEx Office compensated me to participate as a small business expert during the FedEx Office Tweet Chat program and write this post. FedEx Office also provided the gift cards given away in this chat. The ideas in this blog post are mine and not ideas or advice from FedEx Office.