It happens every year: before Halloween season can begin, holiday décor starts to infiltrate the most mundane parts of your everyday life. Drugstores, department stores, and even the post office start hinting at the impending season of twinkling lights, gift exchanges, ugly sweater parties, cookies and sweets galore… You get the point. Although the holidays may seem far off, the “Christmas creep” starts before most of us even realize it. That’s why businesses need to be prepared well in advance.
Just starting to plan now? Don’t stress! We’ve got you covered when it comes to preparing your small business for the holidays. Don’t have time to “holid-ize” your marketing and sales campaigns? No worries! You can still incentivize traffic and drive sales, without a six-month lead time or deploying a major holiday overhaul to your marketing, through contests and giveaway campaigns. We’ve pulled together some ideas to help bring customers to your business, but before you get started, be mindful of these tips:
Make sure the prize or deal you offer is tied in with your business. For example, if you own a fitness business, try offering free gym passes or discounted personal training sessions.
Keep it simple. You want as many people to participate as you can get, so make sure the rules for entering are clear, concise, and easy to execute.
Make sure your call-to-action, if you are including one, is easy to find.
Cross-promote your campaign across all of your social channels, even if the contest is being held on a specific platform. For instance, if your contest is on Instagram, you should also promote and link to it on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn channels, as well. Be clear on the holiday calendar: Black Friday isn’t the only big day to shoot for. There are plenty of opportunities during one of the busiest shopping times of the year.
Now that you’re equipped with some guidelines for your contest(s), it’s time to execute. Check out these holiday giveaway ideas to help bring customers to your business:
1. Promotion-a-day giveaway
Because spending money is on so many people's’ minds, the holidays are the most obvious time of year for a business to promote a sale or discount. Not only does it help customers to save money, it can also be a great opportunity for businesses to clear out their inventory for the new year, and of course, drive up traffic and sales. While this may seem like a no-brainer for any small business, try changing up the way you promote your sales and discounts. For instance, instead of the typical Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, consider doing a different promotion for each of the eight days of Hanukkah, or the 12 Days of Christmas. Promotions could either be a percent discount, money off a purchase, or a free gift with purchase. The Shop Files, a marketing blog for shop owners, makers, and Etsy sellers, has an excellent guide on how to prepare and execute this, including how to include partnerships in the contest to cross-promote and help boost traffic both ways
Courtesy of the North Dallas Dermatology Associates
2. Hashtag contest
Who doesn’t love a good #hashtag?
Hashtag contests have grown in popularity over the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. Hashtags help social media users easily search and sift through content to find information relevant to their interests, so when a business deploys a hashtag contest campaign, it helps increase organic traffic and brand awareness, as contestants are sharing your brand with their followers. It can also provide you with some great, user-generated content.
When planning your hashtag contest, keep in mind that virality is your goal. Keep your hashtag short and catchy, pair it with a few other relevant and trending hashtags, and be sure to promote it on all your social media platforms. Easypromos, an application used to create and manage social media promotions, has an excellent guide to get you started, here.
Courtesy of Cherish Paperie
Word-of-mouth is one of the most valuable forms of marketing because it helps instill trust in your customer base. In fact, according to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers prefer recommendations from friends and family to any other advertising forms. Refer-a-friend contests are an excellent way to tap into this trend and are arguably one of the easiest contests to execute.
You’ve probably encountered this kind of promotion in your own life when signing up for a new service or at the end of your purchase journey from an online brand. Take Ipsy, a personalized makeup and beauty sample subscription service, for example. The company offers its customers points they can use toward free products for each friend referred and offers new customers from referrals free products just for signing up. While this kind of a promotion can be done year-round, you can still put a holiday spin on it during the holiday season, just like The Oaks of Denton apartment complexes did:
4. Pin it to win it
In terms of digital sweepstakes, Pinterest contests are reasonably new, but they’re a fun and interactive way to get your leads and customers involved with your business and brand. Generally, these type of contests involves asking pinners to a) follow your company’s Pinterest page, b) create a pinboard with the title of your campaign, c) pin pins from your company’s boards and/or pins related to your campaign’s theme (holiday-related, of course), and include a hashtag‒designated by you‒in the description of each pin, and (in some cases) d) fill out a contact form to formally enter the contest. However, it’s important to keep in line with Pinterest’s brand guidelines so as not to be black-listed from the website. Social Media Examiner has more great suggestions and examples for how to run a successful Pinterest contest.
5. Photo contest
What better time of year for a photo contest than the holidays? Snow is (in some places) on the ground, families and friends gather, dressed in their holiday finest, Christmas trees and menorahs are all alit… It’s the perfect opportunity to encourage your customers to snap a photo for an easy contest entry, and there are so many options for where you can take it. Here are just a few photo contest ideas:
- Best-decorated Christmas tree
- Ugliest Christmas sweater
- Most awkward family photo
- Funniest Santa photo
- Most creative Hanukkah spread
- Best Christmas lights
- Best Snowman
- Cutest pet holiday costume
Depending on what makes the most sense for the size of your followership versus the size of your social media-dedicated workforce, winners of photo contests can be decided by voting from other followers, or internally among you and your team. Trisocial, a Facebook-centric contest and promotions app, aids users in creating photo contests step-by-step. Although the app is primarily focused on contests run through Facebook, it also provides a Twitter-Instagram configuration that allows contestants to also join in via—you guessed it—Twitter and Instagram.
Courtesy of Annalee
So there you have it: five easy to plan, deploy, and participate in holiday contests and giveaways, sure to help boost your business’ followers, traffic and sales this holiday season. Now stop stressing and go get yourself a glass of eggnog (but be sure to Instagram it, first).