I’m going to pretend Thanksgiving doesn’t exist because there are plenty of other things going on in November besides this major holiday. Unless you’re a restaurant or a convenience store, you probably won’t be open on the 28th anyway.
You already know about Small Business Saturday, and I sincerely hope you’re planning to participate on November 30th. The ideas below should work for any independent retailer, and I’ll be doing a few follow up posts that focus on more specific niches i.e. restaurants, real estate, etc. Only 1 of these concepts relates to the Shop Small movement, and it can easily be modified for those who won’t be involved in this national celebration of mom and pop shops.Please Don’t Eat Me!
11 Turkey Free Advertising Ideas
- Observe Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11th) –Our soldiers deserve recognition all year around, but that’s another story. Many chain restaurants offer complementary meals for vets, which makes great material for a blog post or newsletter. The 11th falls on a Monday, so spend the whole week honoring our armed forces. There’s no reason to exclude active duty personnel from your discounts or sales. Every member of the military deserves special treatment for his or her sacrifice. Go the extra mile by visiting sick soldiers at the VA hospital or donate to your local VA chapter. Brighten a serviceman’s day with a gourmet fall gift basket, for example.
- Write a Special Themed Newsletter- Speaking of newsletters, your customers probably enjoy non-promotional communication, such as email or physical newsletters. This format keeps your brand fresh in their minds, and gives you a chance to focus on fun for a change. Gather holiday recipes, find events of interest, share your best blog articles, etc.
- Create Custom Holiday Greeting Cards- Ok, so this one doesn’t necessarily exclude Thanksgiving, although Christmas cards are more popular by far. Of course your clients will appreciate personalized thank you cards, although the point here is to get your ducks in a row before the Christmas madness begins. You’ll feel less stressed if you don’t wait until mid-December to get cards printed in a rush.
- EDDM for Small Biz Saturday- Every Door Direct Mail would be the perfect choice for outreach in your neighborhood. Mass mail jumbo sized postcards about your Small Biz Saturday sale for only 16 cents a piece! Best of all, you don’t have to mess with mailing lists or address labels. Just find your customers by zip code, and send postcards to the whole carrier route.
- Holiday Gift Guide Email Campaign – Follow up an EDDM campaign with an email blast to your current customers. Create a list of possible gift items from your store, and include several suggestions to suit different tastes or age groups. Use Word or another typing program to make branded shopping check lists for when the recipients visit your store.
- Prepare Seasonal Packaging- Gift wrapping is a nice perk, although that’s not the kind of packaging I’m referring to. You’re bound to get first time buyers in December, so use your product packaging as a branding opportunity. Make custom labels, hang tags for clothing items, or print stickers with your logo to put on boxes or gift bags.
- Celebrate Hanukkah (Nov. 27th)- Hannukah begins on the 27th, and lasts for 8 days. It’s not quite as important as Christmas is for Christians; still, there’ s no reason why you can’t embrace the rich traditions associated with the Festival of Light. Light a Menorah, bake sugar cookies to decorate with blue/white frosting, and don’t forget the jelly doughnuts! Leave a few chocolate gold coins by the register, too.
- Black Friday Alternative- You know the mall will be absolute chaos the day after Thanksgiving. Highlight the difference between your store and the big chains by making your shop a place to escape the madness. Play soothing music, brew hot tea, and place a few extra chairs out if you have the space for shoppers to kick back in. Be sure to announce your plans in an email blast, blog post, and social media.
- Post Happy Customers on Facebook- Photos bring people together online. Get your customers’ permission first, and take pictures of happy families enjoying your Hanukah treats or relaxing on Black Friday. You can post them everywhere, including Pinterest and Yelp, to stir up local interest. Optional: if any of the people are your personal friends, tag them in the pictures. If not, avoid this as it could be drawing unwanted attention.
- Group Pinboard for Holiday Purchases- Got an active Pinterest following? Great! Make a special pin board for holiday moments. Invite your customers to pin their pictures on the board, but be very mindful not to post too many promotional items.
- Give Back to the Community- There’s no better way to get in the spirit than by donating your time to help those in need. You can set up donation bins to collect clothing, canned food, etc. for local charities and match whatever you receive. If at all possible, go the extra mile by serving Christmas dinner at the soup kitchen, visiting the elderly, or doing clean up duty at the animal shelter. Pick a cause that’s important to you, and pitch in for the greater good. This suggestion isn’t exactly advertising, although it will drive positive word of mouth.