How to Leverage the Holidays Despite Rising Advertising Competition

Yael Klass
By Yael Klass
November 19, 2018 · 16 min read

The holidays are an important time for small business shopping. Sure, everyone knows it’s a busy time of year. However, did you know just how important it is? According to the National Retail Foundation, 20%-40% of small business sales are generated in the last two months of the year.

Wow! No wonder the holidays are a stressful time of year for shoppers and businesses alike. Thankfully, there’s a lot of time left before we even have to worry about that, right? Wrong.

It’s Never Too Early, But It Can Be Too Late

Time to take a cue from the supermarkets. Do you know how they start putting out the Halloween candy the second the air starts to smell a little crisp? There’s a reason for that and it’s called “being prepared.” When it comes to setting up your holiday marketing plans, it’s never too early to start getting prepared. Before you know it, ghouls and goblins will give way to turkeys. You’ll wake up one brisk morning in late November in a mad scramble to get your marketing cranking.

Planning early is one thing. Actually starting your campaigns early is another. Both can be great, but you don’t want to do too much too quickly. However, if you’re running a longer campaign to tease an upcoming promotion, there’s nothing wrong with starting early with some quick Promo video teasers, email drips, or social media posts.

You want to generate interest and build some anticipation so by starting ahead of the given holiday you won’t be competing as much with others for ad (or brain) space. Be careful though, you don’t want to start teasing a Christmas special in September. That’s too early. However, late November isn’t a bad time to begin. In the same way, late October-early November isn’t a bad time to start teasing a Thanksgiving Sale.

Are you ready? Sit back, grab some eggnog* and some pumpkin pie, and let’s learn how to leverage the holidays despite the increased competition and noise.

*(You don’t actually have to drink eggnog for this. Seriously, it’s disgusting, nobody drinks that stuff).

Plan It!

Whatever you decide to do with this list of ideas, options, tricks, and suggestions: have a plan. From outlining your strategy to planning your social media holiday campaign ideas, email campaigns, and Facebook ads. You’ll save yourself a headache if you chart it all out ahead of time.

HubSpot offers a free, downloadable Social Media Marketing Calendar to help you get organized. Thanksgiving and the associated shopping that comes with it is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Specifically, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday. More on those below.

By Thanksgiving, you should have all your plans ready, if not in motion. In either case, consider Thanksgiving to be the absolute latest you want to get started promoting Christmas/December deals, events, or promotions.

That’s your hard deadline, but truthfully, many campaigns should start much earlier.

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Let’s Talk Black Friday

Black Friday is the unofficial yet kind of the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season. What’s more, it’s only grown every year in terms of size, scope, and revenue generated for tens of thousands of businesses.

You’ve surely seen the videos of how crazy stores can get. While it might give you pause, there’s really no reason not to get in on the action. This is one of the few days out of the year where people are actively swarming the streets looking to spend money. For many businesses, the marketing is already built-in and you may only need to open the door and brace for impact!

However, there are other ways to leverage Black Friday. For one thing, keep it going! If you’re willing to offer some truly great deals on Black Friday, extend it for a few more! Have a Black Friday sale before (or after, or both) the actual Black Friday.

Same great savings without the hassle and crowd. What’s more, most of your competitors won’t be doing this so it’s all yours! Whatever you do, make sure you promote it online and in your other marketing channels.

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Don’t Sleep On Cyber Monday

Don’t forget your online customers! Cyber Monday is every bit as big of a deal as Black Friday. For some businesses, it’s even bigger! In fact, this past year, 2017, Cyber Monday sales eclipsed Black Friday for the first time.

Cyber Monday is a great day to take advantage of so don’t forget about this all-important holiday. It may not be as lodged in your mind as Black Friday, but it’s just as important. Whatever your special Cyber Monday offering will be, make sure to promote it early and often online.

Let’s Talk Online Promotion

Whatever your holiday marketing plans are, advertising is a vital component of your success. Because let’s face it: a sale or deal that isn’t advertised may as well not happen at all!

Of course, the holidays are a busy time of year for advertisers. Everyone’s clamoring to get their ads done, approved, and ready to go for the shopping season. As a result, television, radio, and print advertising prices go through the roof.

Thankfully, the same isn’t true of online advertising. While you’re still competing with others for attention, space is practically unlimited. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They don’t jack up their prices in the same way your local newspaper does.

This is one reason why online advertising is a great tool year-round but especially up to and including the holiday season. This is also why video marketing is a great option for your holiday strategy.

But wait, video marketing costs a ton, right? Not so. With’s video maker, you can be making beautiful, professional-level videos in as little as 5 minutes. And it costs the same in November and December as it does in February or March.

But that doesn’t mean you should put it off until then. No, no. We’re doing things early this year, remember?

Let’s keep rolling. Grab another slice of that pumpkin pie. Put down the eggnog. Seriously. Just put it down.

When In Doubt, Go With Gift Certificates

Not sure which product or service you should put on sale? Don’t want to do the same “50% off” schtick for Black Friday? When in doubt, gift certificates are always a good option. Gift cards are consistently a top seller for the holidays. Let’s face it, some people struggle with buying gifts and for them, gift cards take the pressure off.

Gift cards are a great promotion for holiday shoppers for a number of reasons:

  1. They’re inexpensive to produce and never expire. Even if you don’t sell out of your gift cards during the holidays, you can continue to sell them year-round.
  2. When customers come in to purchase the gift card, there’s always a chance they’ll buy something else!
  3. When the gift card recipient comes back, odds are good they’ll spend even more. In fact, statistics show that 65% of gift card holders spend an extra 38% beyond the value of the card.

Gift cards work well for any business, however, they may work best for department stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. As far as low-cost promotions go, you can hardly go wrong with a gift card promotion this holiday season.

As an extra incentive, try a bonus offer such as adding 10% to the purchased value of any gift card sold in December (i.e. a $100 gift card would be loaded with $110, a $10 bonus. Another great selling point is to offer bounceback coupons to the purchaser.

The person purchasing the gift card is rarely the recipient of it. By providing them with a small coupon for their own use, you not only make their day; you ensure they’ll be back as well!

Host a Toy Drive

There’s no end to the number of charities that start cranking in the holiday season. However, if you can’t find one to get involved in; start your own! Toy drives are a great way to kick off the holiday season early and keep it going through the end of December.

Toy drives should be started early enough to give customers an opportunity to make donations and spread the word. Of course, you’ll want to spread the word yourself with a little awesome video marketing.

To get the most out of this promotion, incentivize customers with a coupon or gift card in exchange for their donation. If a customer donates to your toy drive, provide them with a $5 coupon to use on their next visit.

This not only encourages participation in your event, but it also rewards the customer for helping out! And, of course, who’s going to let those $5 go to waste? It doesn’t have to be $5 of course, but you’ll want the incentive to be low enough that you don’t mind “giving away” a lot of them, yet valuable enough that you know customers will come back and use them again.

And remember, most gift card recipients wind up spending more than the face value of the card! It’s the very definition of a win-win. If a toy drive seems too complex, a food drive can work just as well. There is any number of charities, food pantries, shelters, and churches looking for donations. Remember to only accept canned or non-perishable goods!

Host A Holiday Party

Hosting a holiday bash is a no-brainer for bars and restaurants but any business can join in the fun. Yeah, it sounds like a big, expensive ordeal but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can actually be quite lucrative.

Skip the expensive DJ and the catered food and opt instead for some simple snacks and drinks. You don’t want things to get too out of hand after all! For any brick and mortar store, a little holiday party complete with an awesome playlist can really get people in the shopping spirit.

Of course, a couple drinks doesn’t hurt either.

Think Of Next Year

While Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the like get all the glory; don’t forget about New Years. New Year’s Eve (and day) events are incredibly popular and are always highly sought after. When it comes to marketing, try to think ahead as well. Is there a tie-in with New Years that you can think of? What about resolutions?

Gyms and health clubs love to offer specials on memberships for the new year. Of course, we all have a few pounds we’d like to drop after the holidays. Think outside the box on this one and see if you can link a promotion to a possible New Year’s resolution. New clothes, new car, etc.. They’re all perfectly paired with the New Year!

Partner With Other Local Businesses

Why run one promotion when you can run two for half the price? Whatever deal, special, or event you host, having other businesses to team up with can ease costs, time, and preparation on your end.

Find a business that is related to yours without being a direct competitor. Everyone else is looking for holiday promotions as well so don’t be shy about asking around. For example, a gym might partner with a spa to cross-promote memberships as well as massages for tired muscles. If you’re a cheese company, partnering with a wine seller is natural.

When you partner with another business, you’re also cross-promoting your event as well as your message to each other’s audience. Why promote to just one customer group when you can promote to two?

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Offer Free Gift Wrapping Services

One of the more dreaded parts of the holiday season is wrapping the presents! In fact, I used to pay a friend of mine to do it for me because I hated it so much! Thankfully, he worked for eggnog. However, if a local business had offered free gift wrapping services I undoubtedly would have taken them up on it!

For the cost of a few rolls of wrapping paper, tape, and bows you can have customers beating a path to your door. And of course while they’re there, they’re more likely to shop around and add a few more things to their holiday baskets.

Let’s just put this in plain terms because we’ve mentioned this a few times but it bears repeating. Any promotion you run needs to be well publicized and your message spread far and wide. Something such as offering gift wrapping services during the holidays? That’s a big deal and people will jump at the chance *if* they know about it. Make sure you tell them!

Send email blasts, hang a sign in the window, post some awesome videos on social media, maybe even run a few paid video ads. No one wants to wrap gifts if they can help it, so if you’re doing it for them; put the word out!

Don’t Forget Your Email Marketing!

Building an email list is an essential tool for any business in today’s market. Yours is no different. If you aren’t collecting email addresses, building lists, and segmenting your customers; you’re missing out on an incredibly valuable online marketing tool.

Email is still a great marketing channel and the holidays are no exception. Following the 80-20 rule, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. These are your loyal regulars, the ones you can count on. From them, holiday goodness can flow.

Email marketing is a great method for communicating your plans, informing customers of deals, and letting them know just what you have up your sleeve for them this holiday season. Start with a few quick emails in late September and make sure to increase the frequency the closer you get to the holidays.

Everyone wants to get new customers through the door. The holidays can be a great time for this. However, don’t neglect your loyal customers who are already on your side! They’re more likely to opt-in to any deal, promotion, or offer you put out.

What’s more, email marketing is as effective as it is low cost. You’re already paying for that email client anyway, right? The holidays are the time to get your money’s worth!

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Small Business Saturday

Promoted by American Express, Small Business Saturday is an unofficial holiday which seeks to promote local shopping. Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (and after Black Friday), small business Saturday is another one of those shopping days where the marketing is built in.

Many local customers will be out and about looking to continue their Black Friday conquests. You can sign up and add your name to the list on the American Express website. Many customers will actually check the list of participating stores in their area, so don’t neglect this part.

Of course, it’s important to do your own promotion as well. Small Business Saturday is a great day for a one-day-only sale, reward, or promotion. Promote to a local audience with Facebook video ads. Thanks to Facebook’s powerful targeting features, you can push your ad to a local audience who are actively looking for SBS deals!

Why It All Matters

You already know that the holidays are an important shopping time for your business. However, just in case you needed some extra convincing, and just in case you had a few extra bites of that pumpkin pie left, check out these stats:

  • Over 70% of holiday shoppers plan to start their shopping before December even starts. More than ⅓ will start before Thanksgiving. Still, think it’s too early to start planning?
  • According to the National Retail Foundation, as many as 40% of consumers may even begin their shopping even before Halloween!
  • Seriously, it’s never too early.
  • eCommerce sales have grown by at least 10% each year since 2012.
  • In more news for online businesses, at least 41% of shoppers will complete most, if not all of their shopping online.
  • According to the National Retail Foundation, 2017 holiday retail increased by 5.5% over the same period in 2016.
  • Social media is your friend! Over 60% of shoppers will use social media to help find the perfect gift. This means it’s a great place for you to spend some extra marketing time and attention!

As if you needed more convincing, right? Finished with that pie yet? Alright, let’s bring it on home.

Ready For The Season?

The holidays are a busy and exciting time of year for any business. However, you don’t have to break the bank to make the most of the season. From sales and promotions to charitable causes and giveaways; the winter holidays are truly a gift to businesses of all kinds.

And now that our journey is done and you have everything you need to get started, you’re ready. Put down the empty plate of pumpkin pie and the full, untouched glass of eggnog. Fire up your laptop and start planning how to make this holiday a success for your business.

Remember, any plan you decide on needs to be promoted. Be sure to crank out some awesome video content to advertise your special offerings. At Promo, we have you covered for all of your holiday video marketing needs. With high-quality video, professional-quality sound and music, and a host of customizable options; we’re here to help you get the most out of your online marketing strategy.

So, whether it’s a gift card sale, a holiday party, or a special Black Friday sale, we’re in your corner. Yes, we even have a video (or two, or twenty) for eggnog. CTA 1

About the author

Yael Klass

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