Marketing / Digital Marketing

5 Holiday Marketing Ideas for Non-Retail Businesses

Updated: May 28, 2020 · 5 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

By Brianna Raymond

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.

During a time where consumers are actively buying physical gifts, how do non-retail businesses compete?

Don’t sell your service-based business short this holiday season. Leverage one of these five tips to stay in front of both your customers and prospects. End this year with a bang!

Offer a gift certificate for services

I think many of us can agree that we are living in a material world.


With minimalism trending, why not prompt your customers to give a gift of an experience this holiday season.

You can spark the gift idea by offering it as a discount. For example, a $100 massage gift certificate for $75. Of course, the gift certificate will be for the full $100 amount, making it look like buyers spent more than what they did. Everyone can appreciate a little holiday savings.

In your marketing material, be sure to spell out what type of person would enjoy this type of gift certificate. For example, “Treat the woman in your life who does everything to a relaxing one hour massage where she will be pampered and receive complimentary access to our day spa facilities. Nothing says we appreciate you more than a relaxing day at the spa.”

Simply packaging a gift certificate creatively can entice customers to go the experience route this holiday season.

Donate a portion of your proceeds to charity

During a season of giving, who doesn’t like to give back?

By creating an initiative in which a portion of your proceeds go back to a cause you believe in, you not only give back to the community but also highlight what your company stands for.

“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe” --Simon SinekStart with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action  

I recently worked with a moving company who donated moving services to victims of domestic violence. This initiative to give back to people in need within their local community was soon picked up by a local news outlet. The news story resulted in dozens of new customers who wouldn’t have heard of them otherwise.

Not all charity ventures will result in free PR, but they will allow both prospects and customers to know what you stand for.

Include a dessert or holiday treat with purchase

Companies often underestimate the value of free gift with purchase.

Offering a complimentary holiday pie or dessert with purchase can be a small incentive that causes customers to pull the trigger on their purchase. Spending $12-$15 on an enticement for a purchase of a service with a much greater value is well worth the cost.

A complimentary incentive can cause sales to skyrocket, especially if the incentive is something your customers are already buying for the holidays.

Host a holiday event for customers and prospects

Your business would not be a business without its customers. Taking time during the holidays to thank them with a holiday party or event is a great way to show appreciation, as well as get in front of their families and friends.

One dental office threw a community fall festival. They promoted the event through mailers sent to their surrounding neighborhoods, as well as to all their current customers. The office encouraged people to bring guests and made the event free to the local community.

Dental customers were given a special gift bag at the event. This VIP initiative made customers feel appreciated and reminded prospects that they were not yet customers.  

A fall festival, omelet breakfast, or complimentary service event will allow you to engage with both customers and prospects this holiday season.

Send a handwritten card

Nothing creates warm and fuzziness quite like getting a handwritten card in the mail.

In a world bogged down with junk mail from solicitors, why not set your business apart by sending a handwritten letter of appreciation?

A thoughtful appreciation note on a nice card reminds your customers that you care and you take the time to show them. This is an easy and effective way to stay in front of your customers this holiday season.


If your business doesn’t sell gifts that can be wrapped and placed under the tree, you can still take part in the holiday season. Take advantage of the year’s busiest time to shop by creating a special promotion, offering a bonus gift with the purchase of your services, or simply sending a handwritten note to show your appreciation for customers. 


Brianna Raymond works with small businesses daily in her strategic role as a Performance Expert at Keap. Often referred to as “thrifty,” she takes pride in her personal blog. From travel to everyday life, The Frugal Diaries offers tips and tricks to save often and live well.

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