Christmas Marketing Ideas For Small Business Stores

Christmas Marketing Ideas For Small Business Stores

So you want Christmas marketing ideas for your small business? Technically speaking you are a bit late for some efforts but the beauty of advertising

First, I want to open this list of ideas with something really cool! An analogy that will help you for the rest of your business life.




Advertising. Marketing. Sales. Promotions. What are the differences? I love this analogy because I actually went to the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida... Anyway, the following story has circulated the marketing world for decades and offers an amazing clarity to the distinction:

  • If the circus is coming to town and you paint signs or buy a magazine ad that says, ‘Circus Coming to Town This Saturday,’ that’s advertising.
  • If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.
  • If the elephant walks over the city mayor’s flowers, that’s publicity.
  • And if you get the mayor to laugh and talk about it on the local news, that’s public relations.
  • If the town’s residents go to the circus and you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money there, and answer their questions – and they ultimately spend a lot of money at the circus – that’s sales.

circus marketing analogy, christmas marketing ideas for small business

Because marketing involves far more than advertising communications, here’s a second part to the circus analogy that shows how the story may continue with research, product development and other components of the marketing process:


  • If, before painting the sign that says, ‘Circus Coming to Town This Saturday’, you check community calendars to see whether conflicting events are scheduled, study who typically attends the circus, where they may be for you to go promote, and figure out what kinds of services and activities they prefer and how much they’re willing to pay for them, that’s market research.
  • If you invent elephant ear pastries for people to eat while they’re waiting for elephant rides, that’s product development.
  • If you create an offering that combines a circus ticket, elephant ears, an elephant ride and an elephant photo, that’s packaging.
  • If you get a restaurant named Elephants to sell your elephant package, that’s distribution & PR.
  • If you ask everyone who took an elephant ride to participate in a survey, that’s customer research.
  • If you follow up by sending each survey participant a thank you note, along with a two-for-one voucher to next year’s circus, that’s customer service.
  • And if you use the survey responses to develop new products, revise pricing and enhance distribution, you’ve started the marketing process all over again and improve next season.



Most 'campaigns' fail because you only tried one method - don't rely on a single effort. Instead refer to the story above and try to do one of each for each product or campaign you may have in mind.



OK! Enough of Elephants, we're on Christmas!


You may come across this article from a regular online search, so just so you know; I run a small Facebook group dedicated to small business owners where I try to share ideas and tips on how to market online. There is an invite link at the bottom of this article. I'm answering a question asked here by Nickel Lynn, who runs an Arts and Crafts Business.


What are some ways you advertise for Christmas? I want to start advertising early (meaning tomorrow). I was thinking of doing a special any early Christmas orders get 10% off? Just looking for ideas - Nickel Lynn

Here we go...

1. Find Your Focus / Niche First

When you are looking for Christmas marketing ideas for your small business you need to keep things simple so that you stand out and also do a better job at running only 1 type or promotion. Based on what you are selling you need to figure out if one of the approaches mentioned in the circus analogies above fits you best. If you are able to generate PR for something random - do it. If you are better targeting on fb - run facebook ads for certain people. etc. Pick a niche or product type you want to move.



2. Hyper Target On Facebook

This is a lot easier said than done. Many marketers like us set up PPC campaigns every day but we still find it challenging because every situation is different and something that worked yesterday won't necessarily work today or tomorrow. Targeting on facebook is a lot easier than it may appear though and you don't need to pay for ads either - Nickel, for example, could simply look for a handful of new facebook groups that are as relevant as possible to her item of choice. She can suggest and promote it in those groups. If not on facebook, try other sites like Alignable, MeetUp, or Linkedin. Who has bought from you before - what kind of person was it? professional, casual, young, old, introverted? find their watering hole and focus all your efforts there.



Targeting Tip: Go to a previous customer's facebook page, their likes and use their likes as a guide for your paid facebook ads audience targeting factors. Chances are that for most retail products, your buyers will have matching interests. Stalk them a little and reach more people like them. See this picture below!

Screenshot 2017-11-04 21.35.12.png




3. One of My Favorite Christmas Marketing Ideas is to Throw a Block Party

If you sell arts and crafts, insurance, real estate, run a restaurant, etc. - you can set up your own networking event in a form of a block party with some light alcohol, finger foods, and music to keep things casual. Have a light agenda and let people mingle and make a point to introduce yourself to everyone who attends. Collect emails for follow ups and give those to everyone who attends so they can all follow up with one another. Do what LulaRoe, MK, Avon, and all those other network marketing companies do all year long.



4. Send Out Cards




Less than 2% of people receive letters from others in the mail, especially for business matters. Sending out postcards may seem a little antiquated but personalized postcards are one of the best things you can to revive an old client relationship, upsell a current customer, or reach new ones from a recent lead generation campaign. There is a company called Send Out Cards, that lets you pay about $1 for an actual physical traditional card, like the ones you would get from a friend or grandma, right from you phone. Super convenient!  I have received a few and I gotta tell you it feels really nice receiving something like this from an actual person even if the person didn't actually write it with pen or licked the envelope. Mary Warren, a friend of mine is a sponsor for this product - send her an email to for a code so you can try it out for free!



5. Realtors

I'm not a realtor, but I do deal with real estate properties regularly. There are many things you can do such as host an art gallery with Christmas themed work from local artists, have a raffle of a piece and invite near by families and their friends in exchange for additional raffle tickets. Have some light booze and finger foods as well as things for the kiddos.


Do you run an arts and craft business? Partner with a local realtor - smart realtors will most likely let you use their open house as a hosting place because it shows the house to people outside their network. So it's a win win for both!


You can throw a Block Party and invite people through facebook, newspaper, and other local printed sources announcing your block party for new home buyers. Let your credit partners, bankers, and fellow realtors set up and promote in exchange of them helping you out with some of the costs. Waive a fee or find a sweet deal to invite realtors to bring their prospect buyers to your open house block party.



6. Restaurants / Bars

Getting traffic to your restaurant or bar can be as easy as going over the top with decorations. Bring your home decorations to your place of business, invite your employees to pitch in as well and let the holiday spirits draw attention to passersby.

Compliment your decoration and do short video clips from your smart phone and share them on social media. Maybe even run $5-$10 dollar ads on Local Promotions on facebook just to increase the exposure on in your community.


Do walkthrough videos of the place and share them live on facebook, linkedin, instagram, and snapchat!  


7. Run a Holiday-Focused Email Campaign.

Email marketing is more valuable than gold to those who know how to accumulate emails and write good email copy. This means, subject lines, description lines, and content with an ending call to action. Put pen to paper for a list of 5 or even 10 emails that can build on each other, helping you tell a story around a product and how it can be the hero this Christmas! Conclude the first emails with a low ball-ish promo such as 10% OFF or free shipping with a minimum purchase... then as deadline approaches increase the sense of urgency a bit, add a customer review, maybe a video of the product or someone using it, if its a service do a video of yourself talking about the service, and increase your offer such as BOGO or 30% off, etc.

Dust off old emails and reach to them as well. 





8. Run Double BOGOS




The thing with holiday campaigns is that you are competing against many others for attention and dollars - which are both in shortages these days. So you have to be either super creative in the way you execute or be super competitive when it comes to pricing because of the short window you have on top of increased excitement from other business owners. All the business owners wake up and rattle every cage possible during the holidays.


Run Buy One Get One offers on your most popular item and a free complimentary item! If you sell toys, give away batteries or a smaller cheaper version of the toy for free. If possible Do a DOUBLE BOGO! Increase the price maybe 10% if you want but then make the perceived value hard to resist!


Illustrate the offer as clear as possible and run that as a facebook ad and push that through as many groups as possible, also make that the center focus of your website during the time being...




9. Get featured (Build Rapport!)

Email local news papers, magazines, bloggers, and companies that have newsletters. Honest Maids, an Arizona based company charges $10 for featuring small businesses on their newsletter campaigns each month. They have approximately 5k subscribers. If your potential client market is a home owner give that a try. Your logo, image, pitch, and contact info is featured at the bottom of their emails. Many cities have local magazines with no more than 20k publications or so..these are your typical free magazines. Create a "Best Of List" include yourself and email it to publishers as well as a secondary or third option.



10. Run A Giveaway Campaign

Traditional raffles work great around the holidays because it can mean someone gets a gift for someone else without having to spend their own money. Some also just like that extra gift for themselves. If you run a health related business for example, don't giveaway your services as a gift. Use this opportunity to reach out to people who would have never otherwise consider paying you, hiring you, or buying from you - by attracting their attention with something you don't regularly sell such as a gym membership, fitbit, gift card to an all organic retailer, etc. (plus a 20% discount on your trial only mentioned and given to the winner once it has been chosen).


For maids services we have ran raffles where we giveaway fitbits, Starbucks gift cards, LulaRoe clothing, yoga sessions, free massage passes for Massage Envy, etc. - around the lifestyle we try to encourage. A good giveaway is breaking even (but get a lot of new exposure, shares and likes), a great one is where you make money.



Bonus: Consider Not Selling

Try promoting yourself. This works best I think if you are a service based business. If you run a pluming company, health coaching, or payroll services for small businesses service for example you can use the holiday season to share your gratitude and blessings through video and social media. Never, ever promoting an offer and instead simply regularly sharing your work in progress, your on-route to a client, your break, your work, etc, etc. to show you busy you are and how thankful you are for the local support and referrals. Humble bragging lets your customers fill in the gaps in their own minds about who you are, how great your quality is if you're getting a ton of referrals and because is video and is about you - you are more likely to get likes and shares out of instinct which is free advertising to your 3rd or 4th level networks.

If you do this, commit to videos regularly during the holidays. Include your product page on each video upload.






As you follow these ideas, and the analogy given above... pair your efforts with the Marketing Macarena! Reach their heart, their mind and values, and then generate that sale by being friendly to their wallet.




Again, having a good marketing strategy isn't really about banking on a single effort. Instead, play it smart and let each effort compound and make a great impact by building on each other and helping you expose your product, your quality, your history, your story, your prices, and even your involvement in the community to generate more traffic and more sales.


Merry Christmas and Business Blessings!


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BONUS BONUS : ReFrame Your Christmas Business Marketing Needs!

Instead of trying to get sales, consider that sometimes what you need is not to increase your demand but optimize your work. Consider maybe instead on taking a step back and re-focusing on your admin side of things. Could you automate something? Look for a new Payroll provider to help you reduce costs and increase profits without necessarily increasing sales?  Have you considered hiring a bookkeeper to help you make better sense of your situation? Blue Pearl Bookkeeping for day to day and taxes is an affordable remove service that's less than what a few visits to Starbucks. WesTex Custom Payroll can also provide you with a low cost effective way to manage employee direct diposits and benefits and of course, Unthink Digital Marketing is the trusted month-to-month marketing partner for many small businesses because we work just like a marketing employee would - always testing, always doing, and moving you forward.  If you feel like your marketing efforts will be rushed, take this time to see what others do, work on your management level efforts instead and take notes for next year's holiday marketing. 


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By Humberto Valle | November 11, 2017 | Categories: holidays, christmas marketing ideas, circus analogy, circus marketing analogy | 0 Comments

About the Author:Humberto Valle

Humberto Valle is a digital marketing strategist with Unthink Marketing Experts in El Paso, Texas. He has over 10 years experience helping small businesses find clever ways to compete in their markets.

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