The holiday shopping season is an important time for any retailer—and even more so in 2020, as businesses try to recoup some of the sales lost throughout the year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Deloitte estimates that shoppers will spend an average of $1,387.00 on holiday shopping in 2020, with the largest categories falling into non-gift purchases (like furnishings and home decor), gift cards, and home entertainment. Your business has a chance to leave the problems of 2020 in the dust and end the year on a strong note—but you’ll need to take a strategic approach to marketing if you want to see the best results. Check out these free tips for promoting your business this holiday season to drive store traffic and online sales. 1. Host Shopping Previews on Facebook Live Channel your inner QVC host and create a shopping preview on Facebook Live before Black Friday and leading up to the holiday season. Showcase your top items and share what makes them cool or exciting. People have turned to social media more than ever during the pandemic, so using a medium like Facebook is a great way to drum up attention and hit your target audience where they’re spending a lot of their time. A shopping preview on Facebook Live will keep your customers excited and informed about your business, products, and offers. 2. Decorate Your Online Presence Dress up your social media profiles, cover photos, and other digital elements to add a festive feel to your business. If you’re running a holiday sale, use these resources to communicate the details effectively. Customers may turn to your social profiles before making a purchase, so this is a great opportunity to show off your brand while also driving more sales. For a few fun examples, the team at Canva shared screenshots from 23 brands that did holiday-themed social media content right, from Target to Allstate Insurance. 3. Host an Online Contest Some of the best marketing comes from your top fans. Host a contest to give away products or store credits to a few lucky participants. You can hold the contest during the holiday season by asking customers to show off their home decorations or ugly Christmas sweaters, or you can ask gift recipients to show off their new toys or items bought from your store. This is a great way to showcase your brand to your top customers’ friends and families. 4. Identify Your Key Target Audiences The marketing process looks a little different during the holiday season. You need to address 2 questions: \tWho wants to own or use your products? \tWho will buy the items and give them away? For example, jewelers like Kay and Jared market heavily to men (boyfriends and husbands) who want to buy necklaces and bracelets for the women in their lives. Just because the women wear the jewelry doesn’t mean they’re the target audience. Consider who your customers actually are during the holidays—and how you can best satisfy their needs. 5. Create a Thank-You Event While the current pandemic may make in-person events a little harder to manage and organize, you can still try to bring out a crowd—safely—during the holidays with a thank-you celebration. The holiday season is a great time to celebrate with and bring joy to your community. Consider hosting a small event in your store to bring customers in and reward them for supporting you and your business. If you don’t want to do an event, you can still reward customers with coupons on future purchases, prizes/gifts, or hot cocoa and candy canes. By taking the time to thank customers, you’ll improve your brand loyalty while hopefully brightening their day. 6. Update Your Window Displays Foot traffic can be an incredibly powerful tool for business owners in urban areas or suburban street-facing businesses. Get creative with snow, lights, signs, and other decorations that bring people in to check out your goods. Plus, the bright lights and ornaments can put your team members in the holiday spirit. 7. Form a Partnership With a Local Business Team up with another business in your area to offer discounts to each other’s customers. For example, a coffee shop can give a 10% discount to customers who bring in a receipt from a bookstore next door—and vice versa. New customers might check out your business because your partner promotes you. 8. Submit Your Company to ‘Small Business Saturday’ Lists Many local communities and governments try to curate lists of small businesses during the holiday season. These brands are promoted during Small Business Saturday—November 28—and throughout the month of December. Ensure that your business makes the list so more people can learn about you. A good place to start is the Shop Small Directory by American Express. You can submit your business so locals can easily find you. 9. Collect Donations for a Local Charity Turn your business into a drop-off location for dry goods, canned food, socks, coats, and other necessities for those in need ahead of the holiday season. You can give back to your community while also promoting your business and bringing people into your store. Try Different Marketing Tactics As you review the different marketing strategies at your disposal, test different options and see what your customers like. Shoppers might respond to some promotional ideas while ignoring others—not every tactic will work. By keeping this in mind, you can spread out your efforts and learn more about your customers to better market to them next year.