The holiday season is approaching, and with it comes a busy time for small businesses. We’re now entering the month of Christmas marketing campaigns, and with so many big stunts being pulled off by big companies, it can be daunting and overwhelming to plan out your own. Luckily you don’t need a huge budget, you just need to do things that matter to your clients. Below are five simple and effective Christmas marketing ideas for small businesses to try in 2017.

1. Partner up with a charity

While this is a great idea all year round, the holidays are a time for appreciating what you have and giving back. Not only will your efforts benefit the charity, but if you’re successful, you will both start seeing some extra exposure among each other’s customers.

Many big brands do this very successfully every year. For example, in 2015, Pret A Manger donated their social media channels to a range of charities for the holiday period just after announcing their new Christmas range. That same year, John Lewis had a very successful partnership with Age UK.

You don’t need to spend as much money as this to create a successful partnership, though: try running a co-branded fundraiser, donating extra business materials or expertise, or a portion of your sales to charity.

So why not pick a charity that is close to you and your business, or helps the local community you operate in? The partnership needs to be authentic and you will both benefit from it; who knows, it might become an all year round partnership…

2. Add something special to your service

Whether you have a physical shop or your brand is purely ecommerce, this is something simple to do to celebrate the festive season. A few extra details like a themed banner on your website, a well-wishing note from Santa with every product sold, a glass of fizz for visitors in your shop, Christmas wrapping, or free product samples will go the extra mile for you.

If you have a bit more budget to spend or a few higher-end clients to cater to, personalised gifts are a great touch to make your customers feel extra valued. Think branded cupcakes, luxurious winter-themed packaging or specially made decorative office items (check out Gilded Bee and similar sites).

3. Share your festivities

Is your festive spirit contagious? Then get sharing the office festivities with your social media community and make them part of the fun. Get behind the scenes of decorating the office; film videos of the holiday bake-off; create a compilation of photos from Christmas jumper day or a winter ice-skating outing – whatever your style, take your audience with you and make sure you get them involved.

You don’t have to be a video editor to create fun videos, and with live streaming booming across all social media platforms, you can get everyone watching to be part of the action.

4. Run a holiday email campaign

Email marketing is one of the highest converting channels for ecommerce websites and one of the most accessible, measurable, and easily customisable channels for small businesses. There are many approaches you can take on your Christmas email campaign, depending on what objectives you have set yourself:

Highlight your holiday deals across your existing customers

Offer personalised deals to each customer based on previous purchases

Highlight any change in business hours, or shout about the fact you are open during the holidays

Thank your customers for their support so far and show them what has been accomplished this year, as well as what your plans are for the year to come

One last thing: get creative with your email subject lines. Your customers will receive many promotional emails during this period and you can stand out by having an eye-catching subject line.

5. Hold a contest

A contest or giveaway works both online and offline and is a great way to get your customers involved and interacting with your brand. The purpose is to have fun, engage with the audience, and collect data, so don’t make the contest very complicated. You’ll want to have very simple entry rules, such as including a hashtag on a social media post, answering a question on your website, or entering a lottery draw on your shop with every purchase.

The prize can be anything you want: from a discount on your next purchase, to a related giveaway or a dinner out at a local restaurant.

Get started on your Christmas campaign

Now that you have a few Christmas marketing ideas it’s important to set objectives for your campaign and to try to make it as measurable as possible.

Some of the objectives you can set are:

  • Acquiring new customers
  • Having more returning customers during the campaign period
  • Increasing sales
  • Increasing sales volume per customer
  • Building brand loyalty
  • Building brand awareness
  • Lowering production/commercial/etc costs

It’s better to focus on one or a few objectives to deliver a better, more personalised and professional campaign. Take into account the resources that you have and don’t bite off more than you can chew, work-life balance is important. Once you have measured the impact of your campaign you can learn from your actions and use your knowledge for future campaigns.

Although the holidays can be a busy and stressful time for small business owners, by planning ahead you can turn these challenges into new business opportunities and thrive this holiday season. For more tried and tested ideas that can still stand the test of time, it’s worth looking back at our 2013 post, Top Christmas Marketing Ideas. If you want more advice check out our blog.

Published Thursday November 30, 2017