9 Holiday Marketing Tips to Make Your Retail Store Stand Out

Holiday Marketing Tips

With Halloween almost here, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday aren’t far behind. For a small retailer, the urgency to implement the right holiday marketing tips for your retail store is paramount.

As the frenzy of the shopping season approaches, there’s no better time to gear up for your holiday marketing moves.

This year presents a short holiday shopping season of just 28 days between Black Friday and Christmas, amplifying the need to make the most of it. It’s vital to be strategic, creative, and proactive in your approach to catch the eye of potential customers.

Here are some steps you can take to make your shop stand out from the crowd, allowing you to capitalize on these crucial shopping days and maintain a competitive edge.

holiday marketing tips retail store

To help you navigate through these holiday marketing strategies more efficiently, here’s a concise comparison table that breaks down each move, its essence, resources required, and the potential impact:

StrategyBrief DescriptionTools/Resources NeededPotential Impact
Plan AheadSet important dates and marketing calendarCalendar, Marketing toolsTimely promotions; No missed opportunities
Use Holiday CardsSend early cards for loyalty appreciationGreeting cards, Mailing listCustomer loyalty and repeat business
Help Shoppers OutEnhance shopping experience with special servicesGift wraps, Personal shopperEnhanced customer satisfaction
Hold EventsOrganize store-specific festive eventsEvent plan, InvitationsAttract crowds and increase sales
Sell Gift CardsPromote gift cards sales and promotionsGift card providers, Promotion ideasIncrement in sales and potential return customers
Appeal to Selfish SidesEncourage self-purchase using sales and offersPromotional materials, Sales strategiesDrive more sales
Show Some SenseEngage senses with decor, music, and scentsDecorations, Music, FragrancesEnhanced shopping experience; Attract foot traffic
Buddy UpCollaborative promotions with neighboring businessesPartner businesses, Joint promotionsBroader audience reach; Shared marketing costs
Small Business SaturdayParticipate and maximize promotion during SBSMarketing tools from SBS websiteIncreased local sales, community support

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead will give you an edge, enable you to budget better and ensure you don’t miss important dates. This year:

  • Thanksgiving falls on November 23
  • Black Friday on November 24
  • Small Business Saturday on November 25
  • Cyber Monday on November 27.

Create a marketing calendar working back from these and other key dates, breaking down the actions you’ll need to take to meet deadlines.

For instance, if you want to send a direct mail piece to arrive before Thanksgiving, when do you need to design and submit the ad?

holiday marketing tips retail store

Use Holiday Cards to Put Your Business Top-of-Mind

In today’s digital age, tangible tokens of appreciation, like holiday cards, stand out significantly. Send early holiday cards (such as a Thanksgiving card) to acknowledge and show gratitude for your customers’ unwavering support throughout the tumultuous year.

These cards can serve as a heartfelt gesture, reminding them of your brand’s human touch. Better yet, utilize this opportunity to draw them back into your store.

Extend an invitation to a special event or exclusive sale. To make the invitation even more enticing, consider embedding a special discount code or including a token for a complimentary gift they can claim in-store.

Help Shoppers Out

The holiday rush can be an overwhelming time for shoppers, so the smallest gestures can make a significant difference.

Prepare to elevate their shopping experience by providing exemplary customer service, complemented by thoughtful perks.

Think about setting up a dedicated space for free gift wrapping, allowing customers to leave with beautifully presented gifts ready for the holiday season.

Alternatively, consider hiring a personal shopper for the peak shopping days — someone adept at helping indecisive customers select the perfect gifts.

Moreover, curated displays showcasing pre-wrapped gift selections tailored for specific recipients, like “teacher gifts,” “gifts for Mom,” or “baby gifts,” can simplify the shopping process, making it more efficient and enjoyable for your patrons.

holiday marketing tips retail store

Hold Events at Your Store

The holiday season is synonymous with festivities, joy, and communal gatherings. Harness this spirit by organizing in-store events that resonate with both the season and the unique essence of your business.

For instance, if you run a bookstore, hosting an author signing or reading session can create a magnetic pull for literature enthusiasts. On the other hand, a CD store could light up the atmosphere with a live musical performance of classic holiday tunes.

Gourmet food stores could delight their visitors with interactive sessions like a cookie-decorating demonstration, allowing customers to partake in a delightful, hands-on experience.

Remember, events do more than just entertain; they create a bustling ambiance, draw significant foot traffic, and, most importantly, catalyze impulsive buying decisions, boosting your holiday sales.

Sell Gift Cards or Use Them as Promotional Items

In 2013, gift cards were the number-one gift shoppers planned to buy, according to a Nielsen survey. Vantiv and eCard Systems are two companies that offer gift cards for small retailers; you can also see if your bank offers gift card options.

Gift cards aren’t only for gifts; consider doing a “give one, get one” promotion where customers buy a $100 gift card or $100 worth of merchandise and get a $25 gift card for themselves. holiday marketing tip retail store

Appeal to Shoppers’ Selfish Sides

In a time when economic uncertainties loom and many Americans are maintaining a tight grip on their finances, the allure of holiday sales becomes irresistibly tempting.

It’s not just about gift-buying for others; there’s a significant subset of consumers eagerly anticipating these sales as a golden opportunity to indulge themselves.

They’re on the lookout for rewarding deals on products they’ve been eyeing or essentials they’ve been postponing purchasing.

Cleverly designed window signage or compelling advertisements can tap into this sentiment.

Promotions like “two-for-one”, “buy one, get one half off”, or even direct messages that nudge customers with phrases like “You deserve this!” can resonate powerfully during this season, nudging the self-indulgent shopper to splurge a little.

Show Some Sense (The Five Senses, That Is)

In a retail setting, the ambiance can influence purchasing decisions as much as the product itself. By thoughtfully engaging customers’ senses, retailers can create an immersive shopping experience that resonates emotionally.

Imagine the feeling of walking into a space adorned with vibrant, twinkling lights and eye-catching holiday-themed displays; it’s visually captivating. Add to that the soft hum of festive holiday tunes in the background, setting a cheerful mood.

But the experience doesn’t stop there. Introduce seasonal scents like the invigorating aroma of pine or the warm, comforting essence of cinnamon, and you’ve got a sensory haven.

Offering refreshments, perhaps hot cocoa or spiced cider, can be the cherry on top, ensuring shoppers stay energized and engaged.

Remember, an atmosphere that appeals outside the store boundaries, with music or scents wafting out, becomes an unconscious invitation, drawing in even more potential customers.

holiday marketing tips retail store

Buddy Up

Collaboration is the key to expansion, especially during the holiday season when the stakes are high, and competition is fierce. Instead of viewing nearby businesses as competitors, reimagine them as potential allies.

Joining forces with neighboring retailers can amplify your marketing reach and create a more holistic and engaging shopping environment for customers.

Imagine orchestrating a “12 Days of Christmas” event where each participating retailer introduces a special offer or giveaway for each of the twelve days leading up to the holiday.

Not only does this provide variety and excitement for shoppers, but it also fosters a community spirit, encouraging a collective approach to holiday promotions.

And always, remain in sync with local business associations. They often have insights, tools, or initiatives planned which, when combined with collaborative efforts, can elevate the entire shopping experience for the community.

Take Part in Small Business Saturday

Last year, 71 percent of U.S. consumers said they were aware of Small Business Saturday, and nearly half (46 percent) actively supported it by shopping at a local small business. The result: $5.7 billion in sales.

Visit the website to get marketing tools, collateral and ideas for making the most of Small Business Saturday.

Holiday Shop Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

10 Reactions
  1. Amen to participating in Small Business Saturday! Love the campaign and I make an effort to support local businesses every year (and I get some awesome stuff in the process.)

  2. I am all for holding events. These days, consumers are more in the participative mood. They want to feel that they belong somewhere. This is the reason why having an event is your best bet for getting more sales this holiday season.

  3. Gift wrapping isn’t one of my favourite things to do, so if it’s being offered for free over the holiday season, or at a reasonable price, I’m there! It’s one of the things that could potentially sway where I buy something over the season.

  4. I agree with you that retail stores must add more inserting promotional products, such as buy one get one half off because this will encourage customers to purchase more, especially during the holidays. You also have a point about the importance of partnering with their neighbors for special events. Well, I personally believe that they must invest in a giant Santa Claus inflatable because this will catch their customers’ attention.

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