5 Shoestring Budget Holiday Marketing Ideas

The holidays can be a boon for your bottom line (it’s not called Black Friday for nothing), but that doesn’t mean you want to blow your profits on pricey marketing campaigns. Here’s how to maximize reach on a miniature budget.

Get on the holiday market scene.

Holiday markets, festivals, and craft fairs are pretty common this time of year, and these events are a great opportunity to showcase your products and services. Rent a booth to sell your products, or consider donating gift cards for raffles or contests. It’s a relatively easy and low-cost way to get your name out there and introduce your business to a new demographic of potential customers. When you're participating in a local event or market, be sure to let your customer base know you'll be there via some email marketing. Square's email marketing software has a template specifically for an announcement, so you can quickly send something out.

Make a social media push.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — whatever your social medium of choice, it’s the cheapest and easiest way to reach your customers. Give customers an incentive to follow you by announcing special offers via social media, like mentioning a certain password for an extra discount. Play with different themes, like posting a gift a day for all those on your customers’ shopping lists, like sisters, best friends, coworkers, in-laws, etc. You can also host a holiday photo contest on Instagram where you invite customers to post and tag you in their most hilarious or awkward holiday photos or videos. Narrow it down to a list of finalists and then repost them on your shop’s account. The person whose submission gets the most likes wins a store gift card.

Appeal to local media.

In the midst of tweeting and posting on social media, don’t overlook the opportunities afforded by local TV and radio stations, newspapers, and blogs. Reach out with pitches about the year’s hottest presents, last-minute stocking stuffers, $50-and-under gift ideas, and more. It’s a totally free way to promote your business, reach a new audience, and establish yourself as a go-to expert for future stories.

Host an open house.

Everything is better when there are cookies involved, so turn an otherwise ordinary Saturday or Sunday into a festive event, complete with sweets, hot cocoa, holiday movies playing in the background, and even local caroling groups. And when customers spend a certain amount that day, you can provide free gift wrapping. With snacks, entertainment, and wrapping, you can promote your event as offering everything your customers need to finish up their holiday shopping and get back to enjoying the season (i.e., eating more cookies). To give your guest list a boost, read some tips on how to market your event.

Partner with other businesses.

The holidays are a great time to engage in some strategic partnerships. If you don’t have existing relationships with nearby shops, salons, or restaurants, reach out to owners of businesses that it would make sense to partner with (like a clothing boutique and a coffee shop) and discuss cross-promotion opportunities. For example, when customers buy something at the boutique, they can bring in their receipt to get a free holiday cookie at the cafe when they purchase a coffee drink. Not only will you boost business during the holidays, but hopefully you’ll attract a new set of customers that will help you get off to a strong start in the new year.

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