8 Christmas marketing ideas for small businesses in 2023
Updated: Nov 3
How to get your marketing right during an economic downturn
Financial uncertainty could heavily impact purchasing intentions this Christmas. The last few years has led to a new type of consumer. One that is more sceptical, ethical and requires greater transparency. According to research this year by the IPA, two thirds of consumers are going to cut back on spending due to the cost of living crisis but they still want to see brands embracing the festive season
So what does this mean for small businesses and how can you react to this to ensure you're doing the right thing?
Here are some tips on getting it right this year, regardless of the industry you operate in:
1. Make 'savings' a key part of search strategy
Globally we've seen a record number of online searches around 'saving money' and none more so than in the UK. Incorporate monetary saving keywords and phrases into your search strategy. Google can help you do this. If you conduct a search on Christmas savings, you can see related search requests at the bottom of the page, so ensure you use this to your advantage.
Develop content around these themes. For example a blog entitled 'Christmas on a budget' or 'low cost Christmas gift ideas'. You can mix this up with videos and infographics.
2. Be inclusive
Consumers are seeking messaging and photography that make them feel truly represented. Racial diversity and inclusion must be considered and it is crucial businesses respect peoples values, religious beliefs and traditions.
When it comes to the Christmas season, keep in mind that not everyone will be celebrating or observing Christmas in the same way – but that doesn’t mean that people won’t appreciate and look forward to some of the Christmas rituals, such as hanging Christmas lights or gathering with family or friends.
Use Christmas to reinforce your company’s commitment to providing an inclusive environment for staff and everyone you work with. It is an opportunity to remind everyone of your organisation’s values, to bring people together and cheer up those who could be struggling with the time of year.
It’s critical to avoid making assumptions about how people feel about or celebrate Christmas. New traditions are emerging so as businesses we must respect and embrace this.
3. Reward your most loyal customers
As Neil Patel confirmed, 44% of businesses focus on acquisition but only 18% focus on retention. Be sure to reward your existing customers - new customer acquisition isn't always the answer and can be costly.
Consider creating special loyalty benefits for your most valued customers - these could be added value offers or free upgrades. Try to be innovative with your offers - price discounting isn't always the answer.
4. Communicate opening hours
Ensure you communicate your opening hours and any special changes you’ve made to support the Christmas period. This includes up to date information on your website, Google Business Profile, social media and of course outside your premises.
Remember you want to do everything possible to create an efficient, positive experience for your customers. It is better to be honest and upfront than overpromise and disappoint customers.
Consider the impact Christmas will have on your business and what you can do to manage this particularly in terms of stock and staff availability.
5. Perfect the post purchase customer journey
Consider every stage of the online shopping journey. Never get complacent once an order has been placed, a lot can still go wrong at this point: late deliveries, mislaid parcels and poor tracking.
The Holiday Shopping Report from Retail Economics revealed that three quarters of consumers cited delivery as the most important purchasing factor with 30% advising the cost of delivery, 21% the speed of delivery, 19% a convenient delivery and 18% wanted convenient returns. In addition 15% wanted clear visibility and tracking of their order.
In today’s socially-networked world, the impact of experiences both positive and negative has the potential to multiply exponentially so do everything possible to iron out any teething problems and remember transparency and communication are required at every stage. The personal touch from staff can make a big difference, so don't underestimate picking up the phone to a customer or including a hand written message with their order.
6. Be more sustainable
Do think about the environmental implications of any of your festive activities. In particular, consider any waste, packaging and decorations.
Christmas amidst the Crunch 2, reveals that almost a third of UK adults say they are more likely to do Christmas shopping with brands and retailers that prioritise sustainability rising to 51% amongst those aged 18-34, while half are open to purchasing Christmas gifts from new and emerging brands.
Over-packaging can influence consumers shopping habits too with a third of consumers advising receiving an online order with excess packaging putting them off from future ordering and 34% even opting for click and collect services to reduce carbon emissions associated with home deliveries.
Furthermore according to the IPA Insight Report, with the cost-of-living crisis continuing and sustainability more prominent in our lives, there is an increasing acceptance of second-hand gifting for Christmas. Two-thirds of all adults (67%) state that they would be happy to receive a second-hand or refurbished gift, with the most popular options being books, jewellery and clothes. In addition, half of people would consider giving a second-hand or refurbished gift to an adult or child. Key considerations when giving second-hand or refurbished gifts are affordability, a greater chance of a bargain, sustainability and the proceeds going to a good cause.
7. This is the time for giving
Christmas is a time for giving. Why not fundraise for a cause close to your heart. If you're not sure where to start think about charitable causes that align to your ethos and company values.
Make a donation or better still, run your own fundraising event. This will show your customers the kind of business you are, and what values you stand for and help boost staff morale. A fundraising event can be the perfect forum to unite people. Ensure you promote this and show behind the scenes posts on social media as a way to raise awareness and raise more funds.
With the ongoing uncertain economic landscape, it's more important than ever to support people in need. This provides an opportunity for brands to partner with companies that bring altruistic benefits that go beyond the gift itself.” Tribal Worldwide, Mark Geden
If you own premises, you could use them as a drop off point for unwanted gifts. Shoebox appeals are easy to administer, have good awareness and generate high participation, so could prove to be a popular and rewarding initiative.
With consumers driven by a continued search for improved health, consider Christmas a time to reset and recharge. Wellness and self care related gifts have soared in popularity and can reduce stress. Even if you don't operate in this sector, you could join forces with other businesses that do or offer as as gift to staff and customers.
And don't forget to support other local businesses. Give them a shout out and join forces so you're all supporting each other. Lastly, sign up to Small Business Saturday which takes place on 2 December 2023. It is free to take part and is a grassroots campaign which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to shop locally.
8. Create an end of year newsletter
68% of us pay more attention to emails from companies during the holiday season, so now might be the best time to communicate to a captive audience.
You could do this in the form of a festive newsletter to communicate key news and events and show the softer more personable side of the business. This is a nice time to talk about members of the team and the people you want to thank behind the scenes every day.
A chance to solidify relationships and celebrate support
You don't need to have big budgets and resources to implement some of these ideas. Christmas is an ideal opportunity to undertake some marketing regardless of the industry you operate in and ensure your business is ending the year on a high and giving back in some way.
I hope you've found these ideas helpful and good luck for the season ahead.
For more help how to conduct a year-end review of your marketing.
Or feel free to drop me a line if you would like some help with your marketing. I offer a 30 minute free consultation to businesses.