Deck the halls with boughs of marketing! Fa la la la la laaaaaa!

Wait, that’s not how it goes?

Pardon me then, I’m just consumed with holiday promotions, sales and marketing at the moment. Yes, indeed! It’s all going to be here before you know it. Many small businesses have the opportunity to double their usual business during the festive season, which makes proper advertising and marketing prep all the more important. 

That’s why I put together the five holiday marketing secrets you need to know. 

1. If you haven’t started yet, you’re behind

Ouch. Yes, this one might be a little startling, but I have to start out with some tough love. You need to be finalizing every piece, component, fact, etc. that you want to share and promote during the holidays right now. 

In fact, most large companies work at least six months out and have already wrapped up their holiday campaigns. 

 Victoria Gallery Store ready for the holidaysThe easiest way to get started is to sit down for one hour this week and map out what you would like to do and when. Create an itemized list that includes budget, description, and timing, and then get right to work creating the pieces that will take you the longest to produce. Something simple like social ads can wait, but if you want to send out a catalog to loyal customers, the design, printing, and sending of that could take weeks. Or you may find a larger direct mail piece like a catalog may be too expensive for your budget. It’s best to know now, so you can either move full-hot cocoa-steam-ahead or switch gears and allocate those precious dollars to something else.

2. Speaking of timing: Forget the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas

You heard me. 

Smart business owners (like yourself now!) will launch their holiday content or campaigns in early November. The reason for this is because the stretch between Turkey Day and December 24 is the busiest time of the year, and most people won’t pay attention if that’s the first they’re hearing from you. The last thing you want to happen is for your hard work to get ignored.

Another benefit to executing early is that you’ll get to better enjoy that hectic stretch of time, and be more nimble if you’re finding you’d like to tackle more or build on a piece you’re seeing work well.

3. Holiday marketing is more than just sales and promotions

What are some fun and unexpected ideas that your customers will appreciate this year? Extra savings? A simple gift card with set purchases? 

Or maybe you’d like to host a toy drive or other charity event. There are endless ways to build your brand awareness and also do good, especially during the holidays. 

Learn the best way to set up your small business in an ever-changing retail  landscape by grabbing our Free eBook Blending Retail.

4. You don’t have to spend a ton of cashmoneyhoney

For all it’s trials and tribulations, social media has given small businesses a most amazing gift: the ability to advertise efficiently and inexpensively. Set aside even just $100 this year and run some different campaigns to different audiences/targets on Facebook and Instagram. The results may surprise you. 

Other simple ways to use social media that don’t cost a thing include designing a gift guide of products from your store that you can post and share, creating a unique hashtag to guide conversations, and sharing information about a fun contest or giveaway you might decide to run. 

Outside of social media there are a number of unique ideas that I’ve seen that have helped businesses win new customers. One of my favorites is the team-up. It’s when two or more businesses get together to cross promote each other during the holidays. For example, a hair salon and nail salon offering 15% off appointments when you book services on the same day. 

Think of some of your fellow business owners in your community that you could team up with. 

5. Don't be creative

Okay, so you have to be a liiiittle creative with whatever you do, but keep a lid on pie-in-the-sky, crazy out-of-the-box ideas during the holidays. 

As I mentioned above and as you know, it’s the most hectic - I mean wonderful - time of the year and people are busy. You don’t want to try to update the wheel when people aren’t paying attention. Stick with simple pieces and campaigns that you’ll be able to track and learn from, and things that you can build on next year. 

So there you have it- five secrets of holiday marketing you never knew until now. May they bring you much marketing merriment and success the ho-ho-whole season through! (I’m sorry I really can’t help myself when it comes to ridiculous holiday word mash-ups!)


Leslie Youngblood is the Creative Director for Excelerate Americathe fun, smart service for small businesses. Are you preparing for the holiday season? Have more questions? Ask Leslie at

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