2023 holiday marketing tips for your small business

2023 holiday marketing tips for your small business

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

The economic landscape may be throwing punches left and right, but consumers are gearing up for an all-out holiday shopping extravaganza. They’re not holding back when it comes to treating themselves, their nearest and dearest, and anyone who has made it onto their nice list (or at least semi-nice list). 

The holiday spirit is contagious, and it’s driving consumer spending to new heights. During the 2023 holiday season, retail spending in the US is expected to rise by 4.5% compared to the previous year, reaching an impressive $1.328 trillion. 

But here’s the deal: you can’t afford to be fashionably late to the holiday marketing party. To claim your slice of the spending pie, you need to kickstart your holiday marketing strategies early and execute them with precision. In this article, we’re laying out 10 game-changing holiday marketing tips to ensure your sleigh is loaded with success.

10 holiday marketing tips for your small business in 2023

  1. Set clear goals for your holiday marketing
  2. Do some market research
  3. Infuse your holiday marketing strategy with the latest trends
  4. Tap into emotions to supercharge your 2023 holiday marketing
  5. Tap into the power of User-Generated Content
  6. Make the most out of the holiday season on social media
  7. Decorate your store and make use of print marketing
  8. Run holiday giveaways and contests
  9. Focus on holiday sales and discounts
  10. Start early and plan your marketing activities thoroughly

1. Set clear goals for your holiday marketing

Just like with any other marketing campaign, the first thing you need to do is set clear objectives for your holiday marketing. 

Setting goals for your holiday marketing efforts is crucial for several reasons.

  • Goals give you a clear direction and focus for your holiday marketing campaigns. 
  • Well-defined goals help you effectively allocate your resources (time, budget, personnel).
  • Goals ensure you stay in tune with the needs and expectations of your target audience
  • Clear goals allow you to measure and evaluate the success of your holiday marketing initiatives. 
  • Goals create a sense of accountability within your team.
  • Setting goals helps align your holiday marketing strategy with your overall business objectives.

But here’s the kicker: to make the most of holiday marketing goal setting, ensure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound).

Example of a not-so-SMART holiday marketing goal:
Increase sales
Example of a SMART holiday marketing goal:
Achieve a 20% increase in online sales within the holiday season between November 1st and December 31st.

Here’s a list of possible objectives your small business might want to focus on during the holiday season:

  • Increase sales
  • Drive website traffic
  • Boost average order value
  • Increase customer engagement
  • Improve social media presence
  • Increase social responsibility and community involvement
  • Increase store foot traffic

Remember! The holiday season is like the year’s grand finale, and your business doesn’t have to settle for just one goal. Mix and match different goals to supercharge your small business from November through December 2023. 

2. Do some market research

In the fast-paced world of holiday marketing in 2023, small businesses can’t afford to skip market research. Thorough market research will help you uncover untapped niches, identify emerging trends, and craft unique value propositions that set you apart from the competition.

Moreover, it will help you ensure your holiday marketing initiatives resonate with your target audience and that you use the right channels to promote your business. At the end of the day, to rock your holiday marketing strategy, you must get inside your target audience’s heads and dish out exactly what they crave during the festive season.

Illustration of a person sitting at a desk doing research

Source: Design by Fe Melo via 99designs by Vista

Here are some ways to familiarize yourself with the market and its requests:

  • Dive into your customer data to identify trends, preferences, and purchase patterns during past holiday seasons. Look for insights that can guide your marketing strategies.
  • Keep a close eye on your competitors’ holiday marketing activities. Explore their promotions, campaigns, and messaging to identify successful tactics and areas for differentiation. Keep tabs on your primary (and secondary, for all it matters) competitors’ social media pages, websites, and publications in media. 
  • Engage with your customers through surveys, feedback forms, or social media polls. Ask about their holiday shopping habits, preferences, and expectations to tailor your marketing accordingly. To get more responses, you can offer incentives to those who share their holiday shopping preferences. 
  • Monitor social media conversations related to holiday shopping, gifts, and trends. Participate in relevant online forums, social media groups, and discussion boards where potential customers discuss holiday shopping. Take note of their questions, concerns, and preferences.
  • Keep up with industry reports, studies, and forecasts related to holiday shopping trends and consumer behavior. These reports can provide valuable insights and predictions for the upcoming season.

3. Infuse your holiday marketing strategy with the latest trends

It doesn’t matter which marketing trends you decide to incorporate into your holiday marketing campaigns, as long as you pick up a few… 

  • Use viral TikTok sounds for your TikTok holiday marketing
  • Create a branded holiday meme that uses a popular (and super current) meme format
  • Tap into the latest design trends when creating your holiday cards
  • Create phygital experiences at your stores by integrating complementary online experiences into in-store holiday shopping displays (e.g., QR codes that lead to promotions)
  • Establish your presence in the metaverse 
  • Tap into the power of AR or VR

One stellar example of a trendy holiday marketing campaign is PacSun’s 2022 holiday campaign. 

PacSun’s 2022 holiday campaign, aptly named “PacVerse,” took the metaverse concept and transformed it into a celebration of virtual identities. The campaign revolved around a captivating spot titled “Welcome to the PacVerse,” which introduced the PacVerse as an imaginative and community-driven fictional destination. This whimsical realm showcased captivating elements such as an upside-down world, an enchanting icy wonderland, and a futuristic airport terminal.

The campaign went beyond traditional advertising channels and encompassed various marketing elements. It used out-of-home displays, digital platforms, social media engagement, and influencer collaborations to spread its creative narrative.

Source: PacSun’s 2022 holiday marketing campaign, “PacVerse” via Rivet

Vistaprint Tip

To keep tabs on the current trends, you can utilize trend analysis tools, follow conversations on Twitter and TikTok, and regularly check Google Trends.

There are several benefits associated with keeping your holiday marketing trendy.

Firstly, it allows you to demonstrate your ability to adapt and innovate. It signals to customers that your brand is forward-thinking, dynamic, and in touch with their needs. This can enhance brand perception, strengthen customer loyalty, and attract new customers during the holiday season.

Secondly, you get a better chance at increasing your brand reach beyond your immediate target audience as media and news outlets may pick up your innovative holiday marketing initiatives. 

Finally, trends will help you connect with Millennial and Gen Z consumers, the largest US consumer groups with the most spending power.

4. Tap into emotions to supercharge your 2023 holiday marketing

‘Tis the season to stir up some emotions! 

When it comes to holiday marketing, you must dive deep into the pool of heartfelt feelings. People crave connections, meaning, and unforgettable holiday experiences. And that’s where your business can truly shine!

Now, let’s unwrap the magic of emotional marketing for the holiday season:

  • Awaken nostalgia. Take a trip down memory lane and bring back all those warm and fuzzy holiday traditions. We’re talking about those cozy vibes, the tingling excitement, and the joy of reliving cherished moments. Time to sprinkle some nostalgia into your campaigns and make hearts skip a beat!

One of the best holiday marketing examples that tap into nostalgia is the H&M “Come Together” holiday ad campaign directed by Wes Anderson. 

The enchanting narrative and heartwarming ending create a sense of nostalgic innocence, transporting the audience back to their cherished Christmas movie memories from childhood.

Source: via H&M

  • Ignite joy and excitement. Light up the holiday spirit like a firework show on New Year’s Eve! Get people pumped, excited, and downright giddy about the festivities. Splash your campaigns with vibrant visuals, catchy messages, and interactive experiences that make them jump for joy!
  • Spread love and gratitude. Show your customers some serious appreciation and gratitude. Shower them with warm wishes, random acts of kindness, and inspire them to share the love with their nearest and dearest. Let’s turn that holiday cheer into a contagious lovefest!
  • Ease the holiday stress. We all know the holidays can be a whirlwind of chaos and stress. But fear not! Your business is here to save the day. Provide your audience with helpful tips, clever solutions, and stress-busting ideas. Let them know you’ve got their backs, and turn those frowns upside down!

An excellent illustration of holiday marketing that tackles the stress commonly associated with the season is the Heineken ‘Festive Holiday Troubles’ advertisement. In the commercial, Heineken skillfully portrays the chaotic nature of the holiday season, encouraging viewers to embrace the frenzy rather than succumbing to worry and stress.

Source: via Heineken

  • Build a welcoming community. The holidays are about coming together and celebrating as one big happy family. Embrace diversity, create a warm and inclusive atmosphere, and let your customers know they belong. It’s time to create a tribe of holiday enthusiasts who feel part of something truly special.

5. Tap into the power of User-Generated Content

If you want to strengthen your bond with the target audience, create a sense of community, and establish a conversation with your customers, you might want to consider User-Generated Content (UGC) holiday marketing strategies. 

You can harness the power of real customer experiences and transform them into impactful marketing assets. It not only boosts credibility and trust but also creates an engaging and interactive experience for your audience, ultimately leading to increased brand awareness, conversions, and customer loyalty.

Here are a few ways in which you can tap into the power of UGC this holiday season:

  • Holiday hashtags. Create a unique holiday hashtag and encourage customers to share their experiences, photos, or videos related to your products or services using that hashtag. You can feature the best UGC on your social media platforms or website, showcasing the holiday spirit and engagement of your customers.
  • Product reviews and testimonials. Request customers to leave reviews or testimonials about their holiday purchases. Highlight these reviews on your website or social media to build trust and provide social proof to potential buyers.
  • Customer stories and spotlights. Share customer stories and spotlights during the holiday season. Highlight how your products or services have made a positive impact on their holidays. This could be in the form of written testimonials, video interviews, or customer features on your blog or social media.
  • User-Generated gift guides. Ask customers to share their favorite holiday gift ideas using your products or services. Curate these recommendations into a UGC gift guide to share with your audience. This not only promotes your offerings but also provides valuable holiday shopping inspiration.
  • Social media takeovers. Collaborate with loyal customers or influencers to take over your social media accounts for a day or a specific holiday event. Let them share their holiday experiences, behind-the-scenes moments, or product recommendations. This fosters authenticity and allows your audience to connect with real people.

Speaking of social media holiday marketing strategies…

6. Make the most out of the holiday season on social media

During the 2023 holiday season, it’s imperative that you give your business’s social media a festive makeover. The options are endless, from tweaking your profile picture ever so slightly and publishing holiday-themed content to launching full-scale social media holiday campaigns.

For instance, you can keep the holiday spirit alive by conducting interactive polls, quizzes, or surveys on social media. Ask fun questions about holiday preferences, traditions, or gift ideas to encourage participation and generate conversations.

Alternatively, you can take your audience behind the scenes of your holiday preparations and show glimpses of your team decorating, packaging gifts, or creating special holiday-themed products. This personal touch creates a connection and generates excitement.

For instance, here’s a holiday Instagram post from Ipswich Ale Brewery sharing a photo of the business employees repping their ugly Christmas sweaters and announcing a contest at the brewery:

Holiday Instagram post by Ipswich Ale Brewery

Holiday Instagram post by Ipswich Ale Brewery via ConstantContact

To be even closer to your customers, you can host live video sessions on social media platforms to share holiday tips, showcase new products, or conduct Q&A sessions. Interact with your audience in real-time, answer their questions, and make them feel involved in your holiday journey.

7. Decorate your store and make use of print marketing

The same way you give your social media a festive makeover, you should also decorate your store, restaurant, or HQ. 

Here are some specific examples and ideas for holiday decorations:

  • Eye-catching window displays. Design visually appealing window displays that capture the holiday spirit and showcase your products or services. Use festive props, lighting, and creative arrangements to make your windows stand out.
  • Festive signage and banners. Hang colorful posters, banners, and signs with holiday-themed messages and greetings. Incorporate elements like snowflakes, ornaments, or holly to add a festive touch.
  • Outdoor lighting. Illuminate your building’s exterior with twinkling lights, LED displays, or light projections. Create captivating light installations that reflect the holiday season, such as sparkling trees, reindeer, or snowflakes.
  • Wreaths and garlands. Adorn your entryways, facades, and interior spaces with wreaths and garlands. To add a festive touch, enhance them with ornaments, ribbons, or bows.
  • Seasonal scents. Use scent diffusers or candles to infuse your building with delightful holiday aromas such as cinnamon, pine, or peppermint. Pleasant scents can create a welcoming atmosphere and evoke positive emotions in customers.
A person hanging up a sign with holiday decoration

Remember, when decorating your business building for the holidays, aligning the decorations with your brand identity and the overall customer experience you want to create is essential. Be creative, showcase your unique style, and create a memorable and festive environment that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.

8. Run holiday giveaways and contests

Spice up your holiday marketing strategy with some sizzling contests and giveaways that will leave your audience craving for more! Check out these unconventional ideas to make your brand shine…

Ugly Sweater Showdown

Let your followers unleash their fashion disasters by hosting an Ugly Sweater Contest. Encourage them to flaunt their wackiest, wildest holiday sweater creations. The winner? The one with the most jaw-dropping, laugh-inducing masterpiece! Offer a prize that screams “ugly cool” to keep the holiday spirit alive.

A twist on the traditional Ugly Sweater Contest will do, too. For instance, back in 2021, VistaCreate ran a holiday contest asking their social media followers to customize the “Uglify Sweater” template in the editor with their own selfies to create a terrible Christmas look. Participants were then prompted to share their creations on Instagram Stories, tag VistaCreate, and get a chance to win an AR ugly sweater!

Holiday marketing tip: run a social campaign on social media, like this Ugly sweater example

Source: Ugly sweater social campaign via VistaCreate

Recipe Rumble

Heat up the kitchen with a holiday recipe challenge. Challenge your community to share their secret family recipes or creative holiday concoctions. The most delicious, innovative, or mouthwatering recipe wins the crown and a scrumptious prize fit for a culinary master!

Workspace Wonderland

Transform your office into a festive wonderland and challenge your followers to do the same! Let them show off their dazzling holiday decorations in a “Decorate Your Workspace Contest.” From twinkling lights to quirky ornaments, the most spirited workspace wins a jolly reward that will make the competition green with envy.

9. Focus on holiday sales and discounts

Even if you aren’t too eager to host a giveaway this holiday season, you should definitely consider running a sale and offering discounts to your customers. 

According to Numerator’s 2023 Holiday Consumer Trends study, more than 50% of shoppers anticipate that the upcoming year’s holiday season will be influenced by inflation or a possible economic downturn. As a result, they are taking measures to be cost-conscious. A staggering two-thirds of consumers plan to take advantage of sales when purchasing holiday items.

Inflation & economic impact and the money saving measures during the holiday season 2023

Source: How inflation and a potential recession will affect 2023 holiday shopping via Numerator

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to provide irresistible holiday perks like free shipping or free gift wrapping! Showcase these promotions in engaging marketing emails, and ensure it’s prominently displayed across your store. 

Vistaprint Tip

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be two of the biggest sales days of the year — but you don’t have to wait until the end of November to run a promotion! To entice new customers, try offering daily deals and subscriber-only flash sales.

10. Start early and plan your marketing activities thoroughly

The holiday season is a race, and if you want to win, you need to start early and plan your marketing strategy meticulously. Don’t wait for the festivities to kick in before you take action. 

Why is it so crucial to plan ahead? Well, for starters, it gives you the advantage of staying one step ahead of the competition. While others scramble to put their campaigns together, you’ll be there, ready to steal the spotlight.

Planning in advance also lets you fine-tune every aspect of your marketing activities. From crafting the perfect message that resonates with your audience to designing eye-catching visuals that draw them in, you’ll have the time to create a campaign that leaves a lasting impression.

Illustration of a person sitting on a couch looking at a calendar and planning ahead

Source: Design by Fe Melo via 99designs by Vista

But it’s not just about beating the competition and perfecting your strategy. Planning ahead helps you secure the necessary resources to execute your plans flawlessly. You won’t have to worry about running out of inventory or stretching your budget thin. Instead, you can focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience without any last-minute hiccups.

The final bow: tips to ace your holiday marketing game

No matter the size of your business or the budget at your disposal, the holiday season presents a golden opportunity for every entrepreneur to shine. By starting early and delving deep into your audience’s preferences, studying market trends, and unleashing a burst of personalized and creative holiday marketing activities, you can position your business for remarkable success.