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10 Holiday Marketing Tips For Small Businesses That Will Help Them Stand Out

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The upcoming holiday season is not only an important time for consumers, but for small businesses, it’s a time to showcase their best marketing efforts to help them stand out among their direct competitors.

During this time of the year, the marketplace tends to become increasingly crowded, as every business seeks to get in one last bang before the end of the year. For smaller retailers, this time can either be one of the major opportunities or a loss if their marketing strategies are not properly executed.

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While consumer spending has been fluctuating throughout much of the year due to severe inflation and economic uncertainty, experts estimate that consumer retail spending for the combined November-December period will grow between 6% and 8%.

Despite the tumultuous macroeconomic conditions, the tail-end of the year is considered to be one of the most important financial periods for businesses. According to Small Business Trends, consumer-facing businesses tend to generate more than 50% of their annual revenue during the fourth quarter.

Changing consumer buying behavior could leave small businesses out of the excitement, and over-shadowed by corporate brands that have both the financial means and resources to properly execute their marketing strategies throughout much of the holiday season.

Turning new customers into loyal supporters will be a challenge that many businesses aim to overcome this holiday season, so many small business owners will turn to innovative marketing plans that will help put their brand and product in front of their target audience.

To help plan ahead, here are 10 marketing tips for small business owners to follow if they want to stand out from the crowd this holiday season.

Leverage "Buy Local, Support Small"

While major retailers have elaborate budgets and resources to run their holiday campaigns, small businesses can leverage the “buy local, support small” as an opportunity to draw in customers. During the holiday season, and as early as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, small retailers should position themselves as local players within their marketplace.

Now, perhaps more than ever, consumers will look to support local brands, as a survey found that roughly 60% of consumers prefer to shop at a local neighborhood store, while more than 71% agreed that it’s important to support local stores and restaurants during the holiday season.

Establish A Unique Product And Service Experience

While setting up a marketing strategy, small business owners should play on their unique selling points and leverage them to their best ability. Using the unique products and services they can offer as a key marketing point will help captivate audiences, and draw in possible buyers. Create and offer a range of products that are unique to the company’s identity, and that resonate with shoppers and their needs.

While all businesses tend to think they have a unique product or service, it boils down to how it’s presented to shoppers and what are the unique selling points that will draw in more loyal customers over the holiday season.

Start Early

Big brands tend to start their holiday season marketing campaigns as early as October, while some will only start closer to the end of November. The period between Halloween and Thanksgiving is typically a crucial time to scoop up potential customers that can participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals.

Entering December could mean that small businesses should have already been running a couple of solid campaigns that would have driven engagement. Starting earlier won’t necessarily boost sales beyond measures, but it helps to create traction and ongoing engagement, which is a crucial element in the run to the holiday season.

Have Shareable Holiday Content

During this time of the year, consumers seek out businesses and brands that align with their values and having more shareable holiday content could lead to better online exposure.

Big box stores are often creative in the way they present their products and services through catchy jingles and elaborate visuals. While a small business might not have the resources to produce a swanky commercial or billboard poster, social media can be a wonderful asset during this time.

Creating engaging content is what drives traffic and customers, and the better the marketing strategy is centered around using social media to its best advantage, the greater chances of turning followers into customers.

Improve Social Proof

Research suggests that around 9 out of 10 consumers will read online reviews before buying a product online, and for small businesses that have brick-and-mortar stores, this is no different.

Throughout the year, customers will have left reviews and remarks on products and service delivery, and during a crucial time of the year, it’s important to boost social proof on social media and search engines.

Small businesses can use positive reviews to create a meaningful impression on consumers, or they can take bad comments and turn them into some positive that will get customers to engage with the business. Other forms of social proof such as trust seals and live sales notifications can also be another major opportunity for any business that wants to improve its social standing.

Create A Personalized Experience

There’s no better way to put it, but consumers are suckers for a personalized or tailor-made experience, whether it’s through the product they purchase or the social media content they interact with. Personalization is an important tactic that all small businesses should be considering during this time of the year.

Studies indicate that nearly half - 49% - of consumers are more likely to shop at retailers that send them personalized content, offers and notifications during the holiday season.

Creating a personalized marketing strategy would lead consumers to feel more included with the business, and help to make a more memorable impression. While large corporations can reach more audiences at once, small businesses can be way more personal than corporations would ever be.

Partner With Community-Based Charities

The holiday season is often seen as a time to give back to the community or those that are less fortunate. For small companies, it can be easier to do so, as they are directly connected with the local community.

Partnering with a local charity or nonprofit not only helps the business increase its social responsibility, but it helps to drive brand awareness among interested consumers.

It's important to use the partnership as a way of giving back to the community, rather than only seeing it as a marketing tactic. Consumers value companies that prioritize their communities and neighborhoods and the role they play in uplifting the local area.

Change Up The Social Media Strategy

As we now know, social media is a valuable tool, helping businesses promote their brand, while also being able to directly target the right consumer market. For small businesses, social media helps them reach beyond their local community which can generate more online traffic to either their social pages or online website.

The social media strategy for the holiday season may need to look a bit different, and this is where businesses should experiment with new ways they can promote a product or share news of ongoing sales and promotions.

Story highlights are a great place to start as this is an easy once-off social post that can uplift engagement, while a live chat or poll will help customers feel more included. Think of the unique selling points of the business, and how they can be amplified through visual content.

Diversify Offerings

The holidays are the perfect time of the year to introduce a new and unique product to your offering. Having a once-off and limited product can create intrigue among shoppers, and leave many feelings anticipated becoming involved.

Having a more seasonal offering does mean a business will need to do some research beforehand and experiment with several elements before getting it right, but in the short-term, it’s a great time to boost engagement and overall social interaction over a new product or service range.

On top of diversification, offering these once-off products or services can also create a bit of FOMO or Fear of Missing Out among existing customers. FOMO at a pinnacle time of the year means that consumers will be more eager to purchase and experiment with new products.

Consider What’s Important And What Isn’t

Oftentimes, small business owners tend to run several social media accounts in the hopes that one of them would potentially lead to a slew of online traffic. While this may be possible, it’s not always worthwhile keeping an account or profile around that hasn’t been active recently, or receives much attention.

When planning a holiday marketing strategy, plan around one or two social media platforms and how they can add value to their company, its products, and its services. Focussing more efforts on just a singular platform will help narrow down the online conversation between the business and potential clients.

At the same time, businesses should engage through social platforms that are mostly used by their target audience to drive engagement and ensure that customers are continuously aware of their seasonal campaigns.

Finishing Off

With the holiday season around the corner, businesses are taking the necessary steps to improve their marketing strategies to ensure that they can align with their target audience and drive meaningful engagement.

While the holiday period is a crucial time, it does come with some challenges that could leave many players feeling left out by big-box retailers and corporate brands. Small businesses need to leverage their capabilities and create an opportunity for expansion and advertisement in the most reputable way.

Creating a lasting impression can help drive conversation, and to do this, small businesses need to reconcile with what they consider as important, and how they are willing to adapt and diversify their business model in a way to draw in more customers. The holiday season is not only a time of boosting sales, but it’s also a time of turning new customers into lasting loyal supporters.