Flashy commercials. Doorbuster deals. It’s holiday shopping season again – and if you own a local business, competition from big box stores can be fierce.
This year, though, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into… well, just about everything. And that includes consumers’ holiday shopping plans.
A recent survey from SYKES found that 76% of respondents plan to avoid crowded malls this holiday season. What’s more, 1 in 5 people are intent on supporting local businesses more than the big guys.
Whether you’re a retailer, service provider or B2B – the first step is making your business top of mind.
Holiday Shopping Promotional Ideas for Local Businesses
Need inspiration? Here’s how to get people to think of your business when they shop local for the holidays.
Discounts, Deals and Giveaways
- Offer a coupon: Your customers won’t expect you to slash prices like the big box stores, but a modest percent-off can be a smart gesture to get folks in the door.
- Donation discount: Offer a coupon, bonus gift or free upgrade for customers who bring in an item to donate to a charity of your choice.
- Gift card promotion: Perfect for stocking stuffers! Offer a free gift card in a smaller amount for those who buy a larger one – say, a free $10 card for every $50 in gift cards purchased, or $25 for every $100.
- Ask for referrals: Have your satisfied customers do the word-of-mouth marketing for you. Reach out to your customer list via email, text or phone. Then, offer a limited-time, special holiday rate for those who buy or book with you by referral.
- Host a contest: Everyone loves winning prizes! Host a fun and interactive promotion to win a gift basket, free service or cash prize. Whether it’s 12 days of trivia; guess the gumdrops in the jar; or a holiday decorating photo contest – get creative, and get your customers involved.
- Start a loyalty program: Launch a punch card or points system to reward customers who keep coming back. Even after the holidays are over, they can reap rewards all year long.
- Website, local listings and social media: Don’t forget the basics! Make sure your overall digital presence reflects any changes in hours, services or ongoing promotions for the holidays.
- Contact-free purchase options: During COVID-19, many customers are looking for ways to reduce exposure. Consider offering touchless payment or an online store (even with limited inventory). Even if it’s just for the holidays, free curbside pickup or local delivery in a small radius around your store can build customer loyalty, too.
- Use relevant hashtags: Hashtags make your social media posts more visible by joining a larger conversation. National “buy local” campaigns include #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat. See if your local city, chamber of commerce or shopping plaza has a hashtag for local conversations, too.
Spread Holiday Cheer
- Send holiday greetings: Reach out to current customers or prospects on your contact list with a festive postcard, greeting card or e-card to stay top of mind.
- Make your products gift-able: Package your best-selling products into ready-made baskets for easy gifting. Couple that with a “gift guide” roundup highlighting products on your website or social media. Not a retailer? Offer gift cards or certificates for your services in festive packaging.
- Start a donation drive: Make your business a drop-off location for donations to a local food bank, animal shelter, Toys for Tots or other local charity. (Bonus: A donation drop-off makes for a great photo op or local news story after the fact, too.)
Buddy up: Double your reach by collaborating with another local shop. Get creative! For example – a restaurant could partner with a local florist to offer add-on arrangements for holiday takeout meals; or a day spa could sell a limited-edition scent of a locally made candle. Don’t be afraid to think outside your industry if you’re both marketing to a similar clientele.
- Check with local leaders: See if you can tap into anything planned by your city or local chamber of commerce, such as special events or a local shopping guide.
- Host an event: Generate buzz with a socially distant sidewalk sale, holiday art show or light display. Keep COVID-19 health and safety guidance in mind, of course – or make it a virtual event through social media or video conferencing.
Business Insurance from Local Pros Who Care
Your local ERIE agent knows small business because they are a small business. If you haven’t had your coverage reviewed recently, now is a great time to check in before year’s end.