Last Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Small Business Holiday Marketing HEADER

It’s Not Too Late to Cash In on the Holidays with Last Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas

Christmas is almost here, holiday marketing was planned out in July, and consumers are spending money like there is no tomorrow.

Are they spending it at your business?


Did you forget to set up your holiday marketing campaigns?

It’s not too late! There are things you can do right now – as in TODAY – to make a tangible impact on your holiday marketing effectiveness. Most are free and the ones that aren’t, you choose how much you are willing to invest.

ALSO READ: 5 Big Holiday Marketing Ideas on a Small Budget

Last Minute Holiday Marketing PINTEREST

Check out these 6 Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas:

Blog Content with a Holiday Theme

What keywords are your potential customers putting into search engines right now? You need to figure out how to take those highly searched words and create RELEVANT content to bring traffic to your website. Don’t waste reader’s times with poor or even average content. Make it WOW content that makes the reader want to do some clicking around (we can help you with that). For example, a pet boutique can write an informative blog about what Christmas decorations are deadly to household pets or a tax preparer can post a blog on how to turn holiday purchases into small business tax deductions.

Email Marketing with a Holiday Countdown

If you sell products or services online, you can focus on the last day someone can order to receive their product by Christmas making sure to highlight your best sellers every day or sign up with Free Shipping Day (December 15, 2017) or to promote your site.  Other business can set up daily tips, relevant to their subscribers, leading up to Christmas, remembering to create “I gotta read this!” headlines followed up with great and fast reading content so they want to open your email every day. You will stay top-of-mind with your buyers, create a sense of urgency for purchases and boost sales.

ballet bundle online marketingGet Rid of the Old Stuff with Bundles

Having a bunch of old inventory at the end of the year isn’t just bad for business, it’s depressing for business owners. These poor sellers are making no money on the shelf so now is the time to make drastic cuts in your pricing and bundle these less popular items with your best sellers.

Maybe even consider giving away free gifts with purchase to really wow your customers. Bundles are really popular sellers, especially around the gift-giving time when people are looking for more bang for their buck. Blog, blog, blog about your bundles so when anyone searches “[your product] bundle” your blog shows up in search results and they end up on your website.  Also, create a landing page, email your subscribers, and maybe even purchase a little advertising to highlight these amazing bundles.

The word “bundle” is often tied to video games and software so when a customer is searching for your product in a bundle there could be much less competition for topping search results when you blog about “[your product] bundles” with your non-electronic products.

Create Shareable Holiday Posts

Your holiday season social media post should NOT be just sales ads. While promoting your holiday specials be sure to spread some holiday cheer with funny, thoughtful or thankful season appropriate posts that people will want to share. Show your personality and let customers in on what is important to you and your company. This is a great opportunity to highlight non-profits you support, causes you champion, and people you know that are doing good things in the community as well.

Have a Private Sale or Specialprivate sale graphic say more services

Show appreciation for your best customers with special offers, discounts, and free gifts. Creating a good feeling about your business and your product reminds people what a great gift they could give to someone else. To increase exposure and broaden your market consider a friends & family promotion that gives special discounts or free products and services to customers who bring in or sign up another person. For example, if you run a consulting service give a holiday discount if the customer connects you or gives a gift certificate to a friend or family member for a free 20-minute consultation. Exceptional service to your first customer is the best marketing to introduce you to referred leads.

Christmas Cards and New Year’s Cards

It’s a little late to start ordering and mailing custom printed Christmas cards. And maybe that is a good thing because these pre-printed holiday cards are rarely read or kept, as the receiver knows that laser printed message within isn’t for them, it’s for anybody. Make a real impact by buying blank cards and personalizing a hand-written message of appreciation and well wishes to your customers. Obviously, there is a number where this tactic because unrealistic. But a small customer base can be enchanted, and a pool of potential customers will receive a memorable first impression that serves as an impactful introduction. Sound overwhelming? You can also automate with e-cards, or direct mail on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, sending holiday greetings that strengthen connections with customers and partners.


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Creating a Marketing Calendar for Your Small Business in 2018

Creating Small Business Marketing Calendar

Creating a Marketing Calendar for Your Small Business

Successful small businesses, freelancers, authors, brands and entrepreneurs plan out marketing activities months if not a year in advance.  Creating a marketing calendar as a visual and scheduled part of your marketing plan lets appropriately allocate your most valuable resources: time, budget, and manpower.

Why is Creating a Marketing Calendar Important?

Creating a marketing calendar gives you a clear advantage in effectively marketing your business.  While your competitors are scrambling to play catch up with holiday marketing and special event marketing you are ahead of the game and reaching customers first by deploying unique marketing planned months in advance.

For your marketing to be effective, you must prioritize activities and combine many marketing strategies. And juggle all of that while…

♦ planning content

♦ managing ads

♦ coordinating staff

♦ monitoring outsourced support

♦ tracking marketing supplies and deliverables

♦ meeting deadlines

This can be especially difficult for small business owners and solopreneurs who have to wear multiple hats and manage all business operations.

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How are you keeping track of all of that without creating a Marketing Calendar?


You just cannot keep track of all the moving parts of your marketing plan when it is in a folder on a flash drive or in a file cabinet.  Your marketing plan is the key to growing your business! Creating a marketing calendar puts a clear visual of scheduled, actionable steps in front of you every day.  You’ll know what needs to be done to reach your goals and be prepared to meet your customer’s needs.

Create newsletters that engage. Join the GetResponse Email Marketing Revolution!


Creating a Marketing CalendarWhat if I don’t have a marketing plan for my small business yet?

If you don’t have a marketing plan in place, then creating a marketing calendar is an EXCELLENT exercise to get you started. You just need a goal and a strategy to give your marketing plan focus.  From there you look at each month and fill in the marketing activities that will help you reach that goal.
Example of how you can build a marketing plan from filling in your marketing calendar…

COMPANY: Flora’s Florals

GOAL: Increase sales by 10% each month

STRATEGY: Get more customers in the store


Jan 2 – Give new logo to printers for Valentine postcard

Jan 6 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 8 – Proof Sunday paper ad for Valentine section

Jan 9 – BLOG POST “How to get Cheaper Valentine Flowers”

Jan 13 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 14 – Put up POS Flyer with Valentine PRE-ORDER specials

Jan 17 – Prepare coupons for Chamber of Commerce luncheon

Jan 18 – Pick up new sidewalk sign

Jan 19 – Review Facebook Ad retargeting for local performance

Jan 20 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 23 – Launch revised Facebook campaign

Jan 27 – Schedule Facebook and Twitter post for next week

Jan 29 – AD IN SUNDAY PAPER for Valentine’s Day

Jan 30 – Put up POS Flyer with Valentine’s specials

WRITE YOUR MARKETING PLAN: Using your planned tasked from above you can start to categorize your marketing activities and build out your marketing plan.

With Flora’s Florals January scheduled activities as an example she can start to build out her marketing plan knowing she will need sections for:

♦ Budget (for everything)

♦ Marketing Collateral (logo design, postcards, flyers, sidewalk sign)

♦ Social Media Planning and Advertising (post schedule, advertising)

♦ Traditional Marketing (direct mail, ad in paper, sidewalk sign, flyers)

♦ Content (blog, social media posts, graphics)

♦ Digital Marketing (Facebook Ads, Ads for blog)

You can build a marketing plan for yourself by creating a marketing calendar by filling in a few months first.  With your marketing calendar in front of you write a simple marketing plan that includes your marketing goals, your strategies to reach those goals, and what is already being done.

Refine and edit the document and your activities by asking yourself these questions:

♦ Do my activities support my strategy?

♦ Where is my highest ROI?

♦ What activities can I add to my marketing plan to get me closer to my goal?

♦ Where is my lowest ROI?

♦ Will a redistribution of resources make a positive change?

Answering these questions will help you generate ideas on how you can improve your marketing.  They will also spotlight activities you should consider getting rid of to allocate those resources to new or better performing activities.

In the end, you’ll have documented what your marketing goals are, your strategies for reaching those goals, and the steps that will get you there.

Having a Marketing Plan + Creating a Marketing Calendar = SUCCESS

Your marketing calendar is not a replacement for having a marketing plan. And a marketing plan that is created and not looked at for a year isn’t going to do much to grow your business.  With strategic planning and a commitment to executing the marketing activities that support your goals, effectively utilizing your marketing plan and your marketing calendar is the fastest path to success.

Download the FREE 2018 Marketing Calendar Template in Excel Here


5 Big Holiday Marketing Ideas on a Small Budget

5 Big Holiday Marketing Ideas on a Small Budget (1)


5 Big Holiday Marketing Ideas on a Small Budget (1)5 Big Holiday Marketing Ideas on a Small Budget

The holidays are approaching – quickly. Take advantage of the festive and giving atmosphere by positioning your business to be top of mind with your customers.  According to the National Retail Federation, 20 to 40 percent of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year.  How are you going to optimize your marketing efforts in November and December?

Try out one, or all, of these holiday marketing ideas without busting your marketing budget.

Customer Appreciation.

Encourage repeat business and spread the holiday spirit by showing how much you appreciate your customers. Faithful customers should get special attention during customer appreciation and new customers or prospects should get your top-notch, above and beyond, holiday customer service. Why not do some of these:

  • Send holiday cards and contact your customers offering special appreciation pricing, sneak previews, or special offers.
  • If you have a physical location try a customer appreciation event or day where you can show off what is available for the holidays, give out special coupons, hand out samples, offer free cider, candy or treats, and really lay on the charm.
  • Encourage repeat business by offering a 10 to 20% discount off the next total purchase price if the customer presents a Customer Appreciation Day receipt of purchase at check out by Christmas Eve.

Weekly Specials.

Designate each week between the week of Halloween and the week of New Years as having a special theme with discounts for, and focus on, one product or service. Do inexpensive in-store/storefront signage, website/blog/email promotion, and advertise (per your budget) in a clear calendar style format that showcases your specials. Put your best of the best money-makers, or introduce something new you are excited about, on the ever important Thanksgiving week (to include Black Friday and Small Business Saturday) and the week leading up to Christmas. If you are heavily online – give the special bonus of extending the Thanksgiving week special to Cyber Monday in addition to the special for the week of Cyber Monday.

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Community & Charity.

While non-profits could certainly use your money, they are equally in need of volunteer time and services, as well as free supplies. Without touching your marketing budget you can assist a non-profit or the community in any way your expertise helps or with anything your hands can do.  Not only are you doing a good thing, it is a great opportunity to network with other contributors and possibly have your business mentioned as a sponsor, contributor, donator or volunteer. Focus on a specific event or program and regardless of what the organization can provide for you in return, make sure your customers and community know what you do for the community through your blog, press release, community paper/magazine, or simply placing photos in your place of business.

Promote Thy Neighbor.

The holidays are the perfect time to partner with other businesses. Think of what businesses compliment your business or look to your physical neighbors for cooperative opportunities if you are a brick and mortar shop. Some ideas include:

  • Split a larger local advertising space
  • Swap in-store or online advertising space
  • Give a coupon for the other business with a purchase from your business and vice versa
  • Set up a small display of free samples with your store information.

Gift Certificates.

Gift Certificates are great because they are inexpensive to create, can be managed easily in-house, and don’t require any fancy point of sale programming or extensive training to implement. But probably the best thing about Gift Certificates is that they are so often not redeemed because they are lost or forgotten, but you already have the money. Keep in mind these key points:

  • Create extremely professional looking gift certificates and packaging.  Someone is receiving this as a “gift”, so make it special.
  • Have a system in place for dispersing and redeeming gift certificates.  They should be clearly numbered and tracked at all stages from creation, sale, and redemption.
  • Once you have created your gift certificates, treat them like cash money and properly secure them from theft and mismanagement.  You don’t want to have to honor a gift card that was not properly purchased.
  • You can create gift certificates for a certain dollar amount and treat it as a discount for point of sale purposes. Or you can create a gift certificate for a specific product, service or package but remember you will need to create a point of sale procedure for redemption.
  • Consider including some fine print such as a two-year expiration date, noting that gratuity is not included but appreciated, contact information for inquiries or appointments, etc.

Do you have a great idea for low-budget holiday marketing? Please share in the COMMENTS!

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Download your FREE 2018 Marketing Calendar in excel for your small business planning.

How to Use Your 2018 Marketing Calendar Template – FREE TEMPLATE DOWNLOAD

How to Use Your Marketing Calendar HEADER 2018 Marketing Calendar Template (1)

Creating a 2018 Marketing Calendar For Your Small Business

If you are wondering “When is the right time to develop your marketing calendar?”

The answer is NOW.

The answer is really A WHILE AGO but now will work too.

Without a marketing calendar, you are already at a disadvantage in the marketing game. To be effective you must prioritize, combine many strategies while coordinating staff, outsourced support, and marketing supplies, all with various deadlines and deliverables.

Your 2018 Marketing Calendar Template helps you plan, track, and measure the activities that grow your business.2018 Marketing Calendar Template Download Now Banner

How Do You Use a Marketing Calendar?

Use the 2018 marketing calendar template to plan future marketing efforts, but also refer to it daily to keep track of day to day activities and upcoming deadlines. Referencing your marketing calendar you can manage multiple marketing projects, stay on task, and establish a routine inside a working document that is revised and updated throughout the year.

  • Organize your marketing efforts, structure and schedule your marketing activities, highlight important marketing events/activities and deadlines, and focus your efforts and budget on successful strategies as you plan, review and adjust.
  • Save on shared drives (cloud), print, or email as a pdf to keep your entire management and marketing team working on the same plan throughout the year. Also share it with people who support your marketing so content developers, copywriters, window designers, printers, etc. can best design a package that is exactly what you need with your brand, schedule, and plan in mind.
  • Adjust if, when looking at the whole month, all activities are bunched together. Putting your marketing ideas and goals on a calendar gives you a visual representation of marketing activities and deadlines, highlighting periods of little action and periods of frenzied work, helping you balance out your marketing workload through scheduling, delegation, and better planning.
  • Schedule a monthly review and planning session. When you do your monthly review and planning session, dive into the analytics of the previous month or two and make note of results from various campaigns, sales, strategies, and activities. What’s working? What can we do better? What do we need to never do again?

What to put on your Marketing Calendar

Online marketing activities and deadlines for needed content and photos such as blog posts, email campaigns, newsletters. Facebook/Twitter ads or campaigns, Google/Yahoo ads, mobile ads, billboards and street signage, as well as ads and banners on other websites.

Events like trade shows, conferences, industry workshops, charity fundraisers, Chamber of Commerce mixers, professional organization awards and meetings. Any happening where you can network, stay on top of local and industry changes and forecasting, highlight your products or services, and learn from colleagues and competitors.

Marketing campaigns and the deadlines for promotion deliverables (content to the designer, proofs to printer, mailings) to include:2018 Marketing Calendar Template SAMPLE Screenshot

  • TV, radio, print, and outdoor ads
  • Press Releases
  • Direct Mailings
  • Specials and Promotions
  • Sponsorships
  • Presentations

Adding your Blog Post Topics adds “Content Calendar” duties to your Marketing Calendar helping you keep your blog post messages timely and in line with the rest of your marketing and branding efforts.  HubSpot has a great guide on building out your content!  Read it here: HUBSPOT: How to Build an Unbeatable Content Marketing Plan

Put your Marketing Calendar RAP (Review, Assessment, and Planning) monthly meeting on your calendar. I suggest mid-month so you can have some results back from the previous month’s efforts and also give yourself enough time adjust next month’s activities.

Schedule a Brand Day at least twice a year where you assess the “perception” customers have of your image and revisit your logo, slogans, taglines, and colors to see if your website, signage, business cards, packaging and such need fine-tuning.

Website maintenance such as website updates and launches. This should include updating social media profiles and pages such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn business profiles as well as your pages on review sites like Yelp, online business directories, and business listings with industry organizations and chambers of commerce if any information has changed.

Your Marketing Calendar is NOT Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing calendar is a visual representation of your marketing plan giving a quick glance compilation of activities, tasks, upcoming events, and deadlines. This helps keep your marketing plan out in front of your with actionable steps, instead of in a file. It also assists in coordinating the efforts of your whole marketing team (which is everyone who works with you who comes in contact with a customer or touches your product).

Use the marketing calendar for planning, coordinating, budgeting and more. Use it to help create your marketing plan if you are a visual thinker, but having a marketing plan is still important.

Get Your Copy of the 2018 Marketing Calendar Template

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Why Small Bussiness Needs Inbound Marketing

Imagine being able to take the money you spend on newspaper and magazine ads, or radio and television commercials, and put it back into your business.  That is a real possibility when you switch your marketing towards more effective and less expensive long-term inbound marketing strategies.

Why Small Business Needs Inbound Marketing Say More Services

Why Small Business Needs Inbound Marketing

Your Inbound Marketing Efforts are Working for You 24/7

With traditional advertising and online advertising, you are paying a set amount for a defined period for a guestimation of people who might see your ad.  And when that defined time period is over, or that one-time print ad or mailer has been distributed, that money is gone. The advertising you paid for is gone. You can start over and spend more money on a new ad or give up.

But check this out: With Inbound Marketing you have the opportunity to develop online content of value that brings customers to your website.

  • A blog post that answers a question EVERYBODY is looking on search engines for.
  • A free booklet or video that shows people how to do something.
  • A look inside what you do or customer success story that makes people feel good about your business.

These are the type of content pieces that draw customers to your website and give you an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise on a subject where they have a need.

With Inbound Marketing You Spend Less and Earn More

Developing and publishing this type of content on your website (AND optimizing it for search engines) is a long-term investment that works for you around the clock for as long as you have your website and the information is relevant.  And all this marketing cost you is the one-time expense of creating that piece of content.

Looking at the return on investment, HubSpot reports that the close rate on Inbound Marketing is almost 15%, compared to the 1.7% close rate for traditional outbound marketing.  Apply that math to the ROI you’ve seen from your traditional marketing and see if your head doesn’t explode.

Inbound Marketing is a Shorter Path to Sale for Customers

Here is the thing about ads: They are great for building awareness, but they suck for closing a sale.  It’s tough to get a person to see an ad from an unknown business and trust that business enough to click on their website or visit their location, much less make a purchase.

With Inbound Marketing you are GIVING something of VALUE to people.  That gets them to your website where you have other awesome content, demos, reviews, and testimonials that make them trust you and choose your business for their next purchase.


When you design and deploy content to the exact audience of people actively looking for help around the products and services you provide, you get skip several expensive and ineffective steps in the traditional marketing process.

That is why you should be building and Inbound Marketing Strategy that gets your business in front of people working on their next solution (purchase) right now online.

Want to Talk About Your Inbound Marketing?

You just got the quick summary on a big topic.  If you’d like to discuss how Inbound Marketing can help your business, give us a call at 866-419-3902 or send an email to and we can chat.

Read This Week in CONTENT MARKETING – Sep 17, 2017

This Week in Content Marketing SAY MORE SERVICES

This Week in Content Marketing SAY MORE SERVICESThis Week in CONTENT MARKETING – What’s new out there in the land of Content Marketing that is going to make you a better writer and marketer?

Content. Content. Content. It’s everywhere, all the time, unfiltered and unranked.

Much of it half-hearted and half-assed – just thrown at the wall to see what sticks.  Like a pig in the mud, this is where I live… blissfully covered in content whether good or bad.

When I run across something that could really educate, push, or entertain YOU, my clients and readers, I want to share that rare unicorn. So here it is… the best in content marketing content for this week.

If something is missing that can help other professionals (and even dabblers) reach their goals or if you’re sure something on here isn’t delivering on its promises LET ME KNOW! Real conversations are our favorite type of content here at SAY MORE!

Read This Week in CONTENT MARKETING – Sep 17, 2017

9 Content Marketing Trends to Look Forward to in 2018

NEIL PATEL – Being able to anticipate trends, as well as the change in audience behavior based on technology trends and updates, can help you adjust your strategy and get ahead of the wave.



The One Skill That You Need Need To Master in Content Marketing

JEFF BULLAS – There is one skill that all content marketers need to learn. The art of writing. Good writing skills underlines and supports video and even audio. The headline, script, and description are just a few. Crafted words and considered communication are important in changing minds and moving hearts.




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Measurement Framework: How to Document Content Marketing ROI

NEWS CRED – At NewsCred, we talk about how the goal of content marketing is not to be good a creating content, but to instead be good at business by using content. In this new age of performance content marketing, clearly defining a business outcome is critical to success.



5 Tips to Create a Data-Driven Content Marketing Strategy

SEARCH ENGINE WATCH – Content marketing has become the secret weapon in a successful marketing strategy, with brands using different types of content to add value and grab their audience’s attention… and market with intent, using content and SEO to raise awareness, engage and convert.



One Ridiculously Easy Way to Enhance the Power of Your Blog Posts

COPYBLOGGER – The overall aim of your blog is to help your audience with the issues they struggle with while also educating them on what they need to know to do business with you. That’s too much responsibility for just one article, so each blog post you publish can be thought of as a piece of your content marketing strategy puzzle.



35 Lesson You Can Learn from Great Business Blogging Experts

ENVISION CREATIVE – Blogging tips should be simple, helpful, and effective. In this post, you’ll learn the top 35 tips used by the best bloggers and content marketers in the world to create amazing posts that keep readers coming back for more.




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You’ve got a lot to say…

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The FREE 2018 Marketing Calendar Template in Excel is COMING IN OCTOBER!  Check back to download your copy.