Beat the holiday sales blues with these festive marketing ideas

The holidays can be a tough time of year for some businesses.

Let’s face it, if you are not in a retail business tied to the holidays, odds are your business dips this time of year. It’s a natural phenomenon – consumers are preoccupied and busy so they tend to put off purchases and decisions that they don’t absolutely have to make, until the first of the year.

So what can you do to drum up some business so December isn’t a total bust? Well I always say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! How can you take advantage of the holidays and gift giving and buying?

One suggestion is to consider selling gift certificates. Just about any type of consumer business, whether you sell products or services, can offer gift certificates.

Selling gift certificates.

Promote your gift certificates to your current clients and customers as a way for them to share your products or services that they know and love with a friend or family member. (This can be a great way to facilitate referrals and generate new business, too!). Gift certificates not appropriate for your business? How about offering an end-of-year or a seasonal special? Make sure your special expires on December 31. This could be a product or service you are discontinuing or closing out. Or it could be a special holiday discount on a regular product or service.

By giving your customers a great deal, or offer they can’t normally get, you give them a reason to purchase from you now vs. waiting until after the holidays. They will appreciate the special price considering their expenses are higher than normal in December. And you win, because you make a sale when you otherwise would not have. Your profit margin may be lower, but at least it is profit!

So be creative. Think about how you can turn your product or service into a unique gift idea. A way for someone to learn the benefits of having a fitness trainer or personal coach first hand, through a gift of a few sessions. Fresh flowers every month for 6 months. $50 toward the purchase of any product or service you offer. A free consultation.

Following are three more holiday marketing ideas you may want to consider:

(1) Offer to donate a percentage of all sales in December to your favorite charity and publicize it with a press release to the media.

(2) Do a promotion giving one lucky customer the chance to win their holiday purchase for free. Select one customer at the end of December and refund them for the full price of their purchase. This will get all buyers excited and will give them an incentive to buy now. Put a maximum value on the prize if you want to protect yourself from having to refund too large of a purchase.

(3) Or just find a way to help your customers see that now is the perfect time to buy, before your prices increase in the new year (Buy Now and Save!), or before you no longer offer a particular product or service. If you don’t want to discount, offer a free gift or value-added bonus with purchase.

Once you’ve decided to make a special holiday offer to your customers. What is the best way to make them aware of this offer? How about through your regular e-zine or e-newsletter? Along with your regular content, include a line or two about this special promotion. Include a link to the page on your web site where customers can go to take advantage of your special offer.

Don’t publish an e-zine? That’s okay, send out an email notifying your customers of your special holiday offer. Use a compelling Subject Line to get them to open the email. If you have email addresses for both current customers and prospects you may want to send out two different emails.

You could use the email to your current customers to thank them for all of their business over the past year. Or suggest that since they like your products or services so much, they may want to share them with a friend or family member by purchasing a gift. Put together a special gift package to make their shopping easy.

Don’t have email address for your customers or prospects. Here’s six more ways to quickly get the word out about your holiday promotion or special offer.

(1) Put up a poster in your retail location.

(2) Promote your holiday special on your web site home page.

(3) Telephone your best customers to tell them about your end-of-year special, reserved for only your very best customers.

(4) Run a small ad where you usually advertise, but have the ad promote your holiday special.

(5) Include a note on all of your receipts and be sure to make all of your regular December customers aware as well. You may be able to increase the amount of their purchase or get them to return later in the month to make another purchase.

(6) Create a promotional flyer and hand it out in areas your customers and prospects frequent, or find another business you can partner with (a complimentary or non-competing product or service) who might be willing to make your promotional flyers available to their customers, if you do the same for them.

About the author
(C) Copyright 2005 Debbie LaChusa 20-year marketing veteran Debbie LaChusa created The 10stepmarketing System to help small business owners successfully market their business, themselves without spending a fortune on marketing. To learn more about this simple, step-by-step program and to sign up for her FREE audio class and FREE weekly ezine featuring how-to articles, tips and advice, visit