How to End the Year on a High Note: 10 Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Holiday Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses

Whether this is your very first holiday hustle or your hundredth seasonal promotion, it can be hard to come up with holiday marketing for small businesses. We find that far too many entrepreneurs consider holiday marketing to be ‘just for those big-box retailers.’ However, it’s a great time to tie in a seasonal twist, treat your audience to a great deal, and create relevant and lucrative campaigns that set you up for success in the new year.

Thought ‘holiday marketing’ was only about Christmas? Think again! Christmas marketing campaign ideas are great, but Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and New Years—indeed the whole season—has fruitful benefits for small businesses.

In fact, holiday shoppers are primed to spend this season and are estimated to fork over an average of $935.58 on holiday gifts, food, and decor, according to the National Retail Federation.

So if you’re looking for holiday marketing ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 10 kick-butt holiday marketing tactics to end the year with a boost in revenue and gain a new list of leads to hit 2019 on a high note! (And don’t worry; you don’t have to rely on cheesy holiday marketing slogans or gimmicks!)


1 – Target blogger/influencer holiday gift guides



Here is an example from’s list of “Best Gifts for 1-Year Olds”.


It’s relatively easy to get listed on holiday gift guides from influencers, even if you are a small business. You can contact bloggers and micro-influencers in your industry and give them a free sample of your product. Or, if you’re in the service industry, offer free admission to an online training or a free consultation! The hope is that after they test out the product, they might be willing to add it to a roundup of their fave products of 2018 or other holiday gift guides. This is a surefire way to get your products or services highlighted by relevant bloggers and influencers on a dime.



Need a cue to learn how to get in a holiday marketing guide? Here’s an example from Sephora’s Holiday Gift Guide where a beauty influencer offers her favorite items:



2 – Pair charitable acts or donations with a sale


During the holidays many people are eager to give good tidings and donations to those in need. Take advantage of this as a small business owner. When people are in the holiday spirit, add a charitable element to your holiday promotions. For example, you could donate a small portion of holiday proceeds to a charity close to your business or community. This way, you’ll get customers while helping less fortunate populations.



In 2017, UPS launched the #WishesDelivered campaign during the holiday season, a campaign used to promote good deeds during the holidays. And, each time the #WishesDelivered hashtag is used, UPS made a $1 donation to one of three charity partners. People were encouraged to use the campaign hashtag to share UPS’s stores, or stories of their own, stories were shared, and the campaign subsequently went viral!




If you’re looking for an easy way to create match donations, check out Little Green Light gift matching. The example below comes from the NYC Kidney Walk.




3 – Host a gift giveaway on social media


Social media Christmas campaigns like giveaways and contests can ignite a ton of activity, especially during the scramble to find the perfect gift. Use your business’ social media and email channels to launch a giveaway contest and invite people to participate. Just be sure to carefully spell out the parameters and requirements of the contest or giveaway for legal purposes.





Blogger Laura Bracket from posted a holiday giveaway that incentivized people to follow her channels on social media. To enter in the contest, users had to do the following:

  • Like MyGreatRecipes on Facebook
  • Follow @mygreatrecipes on Instagram
  • Follow @mygreatrecipes on Twitter
  • Subscribe to MyGreatRecipes’s channel on YouTube
  • Follow MyGreatRecipes on Pinterest
  • Visit the website
  • Share with your friends


What a great way to boost social engagement during the holiday season, right?


4 – Crowd source content from your community


User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful way to attract a buzz around your business. So, use it to your advantage. Create a challenge or contest and solicit submissions from your network of your social media followers. Keep it fun, lighthearted, and creative; and make sure to come up with a plan before launching the campaign to ensure it goes off without a hitch.





A great campaign that relied on user-generated content is Starbucks’ #redcupchallenge. With this contest, they invited followers to post holiday-inspired photos that incorporated that year’s “red cup” design. This is one of the best Christmas campaigns of all time because it engaged the community, promoted social sharing, and produced some unique coffee cup designs!


5 – Dress up your website and social media channels


“Even if you only do business online, you can still show off your holiday spirit,” says Small Biz Trends contributor Annie Pilon. Dress up your social media properties and website with some holiday-inspired elements and colors. Why? Most people love to get in the holiday spirit, plus it shows a little brand personality, which consumers like.





Need some “inspo”? In this example, the donut chain Krispy Kream rings in the season with its red, green, and white Facebook images. If you are looking for more visual ideas, Google “holiday advertisement examples.”



6 – Don’t forget holiday email marketing


Check out J. Crew’s holiday gift guide email from last year, where they rounded up a few trendy items.


If you collect email addresses from your customers (as you should), leverage your email list to send out a holiday gift guide highlighting the best products or services you have to offer. To extend the life of the content, you can break the guides into different categories like “Gifts for [INSERT PERSON],” “Stocking Stuffers Under $[DOLLAR AMOUNT],” or “Last-Minute Gift Ideas for the Procrastinating Gift Giver.”  Your email list is already primed to your brand, so give them an extra nudge by offering some gift ideas for them!


This gift guide is a perfect example of catering to a specific audience (pun intended, bakers). If you know a lot about your customers, use it to your advantage and market to them!


7 – Offer incentives to buy


During the holiday shopping season, customers are accustomed to deals like free shipping and gift wrap, guaranteed delivery dates, and other discounts. While a seemingly easy tactic on the expansive list of holiday campaign ideas, incentives are a great way to draw customers in. If you’re using a landing page builder, you can add a Leadbox pop-up with a countdown timer notifying customers of the drop-dead rates for specific incentives or deals.


Entrepreneur and Avon seller Beth Bailey creates an awesomely animated pop-up promoting free shipping as part of her “12 Days of Deals.”


8 – Story tell like Santa


“Storytelling still works,” says American Marketing Association contributor Christine Birkner. Some small businesses during the holidays should focus on public relations as much as sales. Shine a spotlight on the inner workings of your business by showcasing employees on social media, sharing the behind-the-scenes of your business, or posting pictures of employees during their holiday time off. Doing this makes your brand more relatable to consumers, and in turn, they will be more likely to buy from you.




Global consultancy PwC closes doors between Christmas and the New Year, and during this time promotes the effort as #PwCTakesABreak. By using this hashtag, employees can tell stories of how they use their downtime on social media. It also shows the public a powerful message: that the company cares about employees, which makes potential clients say, “This is a firm that I want to work with.” In the meantime, it promotes working for the company, too!



If you’re looking for an example from a business on a smaller scale, Kansas City architectural firm Populous uses the hashtag #LoveItHere.


9 – Create a seasonal lead magnet


Now is the time to create fresh and new content, wrap it in some seasonal branding, and launch a limited-time-only lead magnet. You can create a lead magnet to attract high-quality, build trust by helping your prospects navigate a problem, or offer a useful resource. Creating a holiday-inspired lead magnet can help grow an email list and nurture leads into sales, as well! Just make sure the lead magnet tackles the following:

  • It’s action-driven. To generate interested leads, it’s important to give away free goodies.
  • It offers a benefit. Lead magnets should provide useful information your audience can apply.
  • It’s relevant. It solves your target audience’s main problems.





Holiday email marketing examples are plentiful. This example comes from Leadpages user,  Melissa K. Norris who inspires people’s faith and pioneer roots. In the lead magnet, she captivates her audience by promoting a customized plan for planning Christmas. This lead magnet strategy works because it is relevant to her target audience and attempts to people’s pain points and leaves them wanting more info!


10 – Optimize for local search


If you are a small business who relies on local foot traffic, consider it time to optimize your local search presence. This means making sure that your business and all of its details (name, location, website, and business information) is listed on local search sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Yellow Pages, and

Local search optimization can help lure local shoppers who are looking for specific types of businesses, this holiday season is a great time to make sure your local search listings are up to date and filled out!


Do a search for any brick and mortar store type + [LOCATION] and you’ll see the most optimized local businesses appear! (This example is from doing a Google search for Minneapolis jewelers.)


A final word of caution…


Marketing holidays can be tricky, but it’s for sure doable with the above tips. Pay attention to the deals and plan ahead, as the holiday season is just around the corner. In fact, don’t wait until the last minute… It takes time to create well-executed holiday marketing campaign. Start your journey at least a month out so you have time to cross your T’s and dot your I’s!

And stay focused on a single key objective so you can connect a clever concept to a real business results. The best approach is considering what your business needs in the final quarter of the year: a boost in awareness, a fresh batch of high-quality leads, an influx of revenue, or a dose of customer loyalty.