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Holiday Marketing – Halloween is over, are you ready?

Amie Parnaby
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Holiday marketing for services and retail business

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2021 seems to have flown by, and it’s already closing on the holiday season. Halloween has gone for another year, and if your holiday marketing campaign isn’t ready yet, it really should be.

Let’s be fair. Some of us get monumentally annoyed by the retail stores when they start filling the shelves with Christmas items before Halloween is even over (although I would suggest keeping Halloween stuff available right up to the 31st of October). However, those retailers know something that will define their annual revenues. They know what everyone really desires is the reminder that the “Holidays are Coming…” – Coca Cola really knew what they were doing with that ad campaign.

The fact is that you should probably start thinking about your holiday marketing in the middle of summer. But it always seems so far away when the sun is shining, and people are more interested in their summer vacations than Christmas. However, it’s not too late to get a great holiday business campaign going that can make a massive impact, both on your annual revenues and quieter business periods.

Retail holiday marketing has it easy… or does it?

Retailers have been working on the premise that giving tangible gifts is the way that everyone goes. And if we are honest, that is true. Whichever mid-winter (or mid-summer) festival people observe, there are often gifts involved. Get your festive marketing going early enough, and you get people buying Christmas gifts and spending more than they planned in the intervening months.

It works every year on me. I shop early and then feel like I ought to supplement my gifts as the day gets closer. I’m an absolute sucker for Christmas gift-giving.

However, the consensus is that Christmas is for children. They are the ones with all the toys – even if they are all educational and developing their young minds. Adults always have fewer gifts for each other. There is another aspect to consider. In the past 50 years, the average global birth rate has decreased by 50%. That means fewer children being born, more adults staying childfree, and more adults spending their money on things that might be more appreciated than a gift under the tree. 

No one is saying that people won’t give gifts anymore, but people are becoming more aware of their autonomy. They are more likely to want to buy things for themselves rather than have something bought for them. 

Giving physical gifts will not disappear, but the way retail works, they might want to consider the options going into the future. Holiday marketing for retail has been the same for a long time. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Holiday marketing for your business is not just about gifts

While you find many people are looking for great deals on products on the run-up to Christmas, that’s not the only thing on the cards. People are looking to host dinners and lunches, schools are doing the annual performance, theatres are putting on their popular Christmas productions, and many businesses are looking at their end of year analysis.

How does a service business fit in here? Perfectly! 

The thing about the holiday season is that it’s not just about the gifts and whichever religious or none religious reason for celebrating. It’s almost always about the people coming together. Whether that’s family or friends, it is a time to connect with our people. And for service businesses, that could also include your clients. 

Services are for all year, not just for Christmas. But it doesn’t hurt to snag your clients with some festive cheer and an offer or two.

Services and Holiday Marketing (and a little retail for good measure) 

I’ll be honest, not all holiday marketing campaigns for services are appropriate for boosting immediate sales. However, these seasonal campaigns can have a massive impact on your revenue for the upcoming year and beyond. 

Connect With Clients

Remember how I said that the holiday season is about connecting with our people? That includes your clients. There are numerous ways you can connect with your clients (past and present). A straightforward and inexpensive one is sending a greetings card. However, even if you have an extensive client list, make sure you handwrite your cards. It feels lovely to receive a greetings card, but the shine wears off if you find a sticker, stamp or computer printed message inside. If you want to add a little extra to your Christmas cards, you can always add a discount coupon valid for the upcoming two to three months.

Multiple other options might be more appropriate for some businesses than others. If you have a significant list of returning clients, you could always throw a Christmas party, music, food, and a glass of bubbly (alcoholic or not). If your services entail a lot of personal interaction, it can be hard not to begin to think of your regularly returning clients as friends. In these cases, a party is not a bad idea at all.

If you have too many clients on your list, it could be problematic to host a party. It would cost you far too much, or your clients could be too far afield for it to be viable. Perhaps you could hold a contest with an excellent incentive for introducing new clients. 

However you connect with your clients, the point is that you make a connection and make them feel valued for choosing you over the others. Essentially, you are saying thank you for their continued custom.

Join Your Community – What good cheer can you bring?

Services aren’t always something that brings joy or happiness. The chances are that you will have a rough time “promoting” family and divorce legal services, funeral services, or anything else distinctly depressing. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t promote your business and put your name in the minds of the people involved. 

It might seem somewhat crass for a funeral home to sponsor an event to support the local senior centre, but as long as the support is active and beneficial, people will forgive you for it. You could say the same about the lawyer supporting the local domestic abuse charity or woman’s shelter, but starting a toy drive for children in the local shelter is more than acceptable.

You don’t need to sponsor an event or pour out lots of money to make your business known to the community. Suppose you have several permanent staff, but you know you will have a slow couple of months. Could you donate some of your team to a volunteer effort in your area?

Even if your services don’t cater to people you might support, you would be surprised how many people you’ll meet who will keep your business in mind when they need your services. Social conscience and responsibility go a long way.

Partner Up (compatibility, not competition)

There are many opportunities to partner up with compatible businesses and organisations to make your holiday marketing shine. It will also add value to both or all of your partners. Perhaps significantly more than two independent campaigns.

Do you provide services that mesh with the products of a local retailer or even a crafter? I have used an example below of a cleaner doing a pre-Christmas deep clean and adding a seasonal wreath. How about offering a discount certificate to follow-up purchases generated from the freebie?

Alternatively, you could partner with another service business to provide packages not possible alone, but both companies could do so. An example could be a local plasterer teaming with the nearby painter and decorators.

If we are really going with the spirit of Christmas and the season of giving, you could team up with a local charity that aligns with your business. You could be a landscaper, gardener or garden centre and team up with your local green charity, or perhaps you’re a tailor and working with charitable clothing recycling and repair. You don’t necessarily need to give money to support these charities, but giving your time will help get you together with people of similar values who want your services.

Don’t forget that even if you don’t give monetarily or gain financially, you still want to advertise your partnerships, and so should they. When you tag each other on social media, it opens both businesses and organisations to a whole new audience.,

Reduce The Stress

Organising, arranging and hosting large family gatherings are stressful. The holidays are meant to be a time of peace and goodwill, but by the time it all comes to fruition, many people want to have done with it all and get it over for the next year – me included, and I love Christmas.

Services that can make life easier are in an ideal position to promote their business and potentially carry it forward into the new year.

Some examples could be the local cleaning service, deep cleaning before the holidays, the decorators that refresh your walls and paintwork while you work, or the local photographer. While there is nothing inherently festive about any of those services, they might potentially have a quiet time on the run-up to the holidays. 

A holiday spin on their services, with an emphasis on reducing stress and things to do before the big holiday

Provide and Promote Your Services as a Perfect Gift Card

As people have become more conscious of the environment and conspicuous consumption, there has been a decrease in giving “things” simply for the sake of giving. Even people with small children are looking away from plastic, disposable gifts and seeking out long-lasting wooden toys or recyclable and reusable materials. 

And between adults and their older children, it’s experiences and services that are becoming more popular. These experiences often last longer and bring more joy than any commercial, impersonal gift. 

This is where gift cards and certificates come in. And you can read more about that in the link. 

Festive Packages in Festive Packaging

You might already have packages or bundles of services, but what can you add to make it the perfect addition to a holiday marketing campaign?

I’ll borrow from the services mentioned above, cleaning, decorating and photography, for examples. The cleaners could twist the cleaning service with a festive inclusion of a decorative wreath, table decoration, or seasonal room defuser scent (apple or orange and cinnamon are typical). The decorators could add to putting up the tree and stringing the lights (the most annoying part of tree decoration). And the photographer could add a predefined number of greetings cards with a customised verse with the festive-themed family portraits.

The benefit to two of those options is the opportunity to partner with other local businesses. Scroll back up for the partnership bit if you missed it.

Bundle Services & Gifts Together

This makes perfect sense for people who want to give a physical gift and a service. There are still many people who feel they haven’t given a gift unless it’s physically there. So you can bundle together gift certificates and product packages.

On the other hand, it is also an excellent idea for B2B promotions. Suppose you provide service contracts for a business, such as accounting or provision and servicing the office coffee machine. In that case, you can incentivise the extension of that service into the next year with something like gift cards or certificates. Your business manager can either keep them or use them as gifts to their staff or most loyal clients. No one said the gift cards had to be for your business. Although ideally, you might want to keep it local rather than “big business”.

Focus on the Upcoming Year (Make the New Year a New Beginning)

Many people see the new year as a jumping-off point for the changes they want to see in their lives. With many New Year’s resolutions set to fail before we even reach Epiphany (the 6th of January), most of us need a little help to stay on track. 

This makes fitness business, coaching and therapists some of the perfect companies to promote as the year draws close. Obviously, those businesses will focus on the New Year festivities as the holiday they are targeting.

Few people have the willpower or desire to start their healthy lifestyle, quit a bad habit, or create a new life path at the end of the year. So anyone wanting to help those people will ring in the New Year with a host of people ready to change aspects of their lives. Or at least they will if they get their holiday marketing on target.

New Services – With a seasonal twist

If you have been contemplating adding a new service, the festive run-up could be the ideal time. If your new service can do anything to reduce stress, make a perfect gift or help a business achieve its end of year goals – now is the time to launch. 

Any or all of those things will be on the search list, and if you can entice existing clients in with exclusive or preferential access, you already have your new service set. 

Don’t Leave it too Late, Leverage your Shopping Days

You know the ones I mean, those recently implemented “special” shopping days at the end of November when people go slightly insane and spend more than they ever imagined they would. 

  • Black Friday
  • Small Business Saturday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Giving Tuesday

Choose the days that apply, or go for all of them. No one cares whether your business technically fits the specifications. While services generally mean that you can’t pack in as many purchases as possible, your premises and staff will limit the number of clients you can see on one day. However, they are ideal to market gifts, packages and bundles – whether as gifts or for the buying individual. 

You know I’m waiting for Black Friday to renew my gym membership. 

How Do Services Fit in with Holiday Marketing Campaigns?

The answer is perfect. Just because you might need to use a little creativity to give your service a “festive glow” doesn’t mean your holiday marketing is any less valid or that your services are any less valuable.

The fact is that while retail will probably not see the same increase in business until the same time next year, but your service business could have attracted new clients that will see you through the following year and beyond.

The holiday season is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your company’s creativity, reinforce your unique selling points, ensure your customers feel valued, and potentially secure yourself a spot on the philanthropy podium. If you have a service-based small or even mid-sized business, it’s always worth considering a holiday marketing campaign or promotion.

October Newsletter: There’s Nothing Spooky Going on Here…
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