How Do Your Holiday Retail Marketing Plans Stack Up Against Competition?

holiday retail marketing plans

With this year’s holiday shopping season significantly shorter than last year’s due to a late Thanksgiving, retailers are ramping up their marketing plans to compete. Manta’s Q3 Small Business Wellness Index surveyed small business owners about their holiday retail marketing plans, and here’s what they found.

Some 85 percent of small business owners in the survey say this holiday season will be just as important, if not more so, than last year’s in their overall sales. However, recent economic issues have small business owners worried. The government shutdown shook small business owners’ confidence. Half of the entrepreneurs in the study predict holiday sales will suffer as a result. Just 13 percent say they are more optimistic about sales this year than they were in 2012.

The Plan to Attract Customers and Boost Sales

Sales Tactics

Half of small business owners plan to maintain their current sales strategies during the holiday season, with a focus on sales and promotions.

Among those planning to change their holidays’ sales strategies, 11 percent will start promoting earlier (which I assume means they’ve already begun), 11 percent plan to leverage social media and 8 percent will increase their email marketing outreach.

What Matters Most

Small business owners believe the three most influential factors for holiday shoppers are:

  • Price (35 percent)
  • Customer service (24 percent)
  • Online reviews (11 percent)

And they plan to focus on these issues for the holidays.


The Millennial generation will be a key target market for small businesses this holiday season. Nearly 30 percent of business owners believe Millennials are more likely than other generations to shop using a mobile device, and 15 percent say Millennials are more engaged by video than their other customers.

Going Mobile

Small business owners are paying attention to mobile marketing. Some 20 percent expect to see more mobile transactions this year and 13 percent plan to use mobile to drive in–store shopping by using mobile coupons or discounts.

Small Business Saturday

As for in-store shopping, the Small Business Saturday initiative is expected to make a difference for 21 percent of small business owners, while 36 percent are unsure what effect it will have on sales.

With Black Friday just days away, there’s still time to make some moves that will improve your holiday sales.

Ways to Improve Your Holiday Sales

Bundle it Up

Group products and services into packages at different price points. This helps customize gift offerings so customers feel they’re getting (and giving) something more personal. It can also help you attract both big spenders and bargain hunters.

Keep it Local

Participate in Small Business Saturday to help drive neighborhood shoppers into your store. Visit the Small Business Saturday website to get tools and tips you can use to promote your products.

Reach Out with Email Marketing

Try targeting your emails based on products you know shoppers have shown prior interest in. Test different email offers, discounts and subject lines to see what gets the best results.

Think Mobile

Millennials aren’t the only customer demographic going mobile. Moms are huge mobile users, too.

Make sure your marketing emails are mobile-friendly and that any links in the emails go to a mobile-friendly landing page on your website so shoppers don’t get frustrated.

Try Texting

Ask customers to opt in to receive text messages from you and send them timely discount codes, limited-time promotional offers and more to drive them into your store.

Give Them a Nudge

Remind customers of the short shopping season and use marketing messages that encourage them to start early so they can finish shopping faster and with less stress. Creating a sense of urgency will prompt customers to act.

Retail Shopping Photo via Shutterstock

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.