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5 Steps to Getting Your Small Business Ready for the Holidays


The holidays are fast approaching and, if you’re like many small business owners, your business depends on having a healthy 4th quarter. In a perfect world, you would already have your social media campaign strategy on paper and be implementing it; but if you haven’t started, it’s not too late to get your small business ready for the holidays. And then, bookmark this page for next year.

1. Know Your Audience, and Plan Accordingly.

There are basically three different types of shoppers:

  • The early birds: These people start shopping absolutely no later than Black Friday. Truthfully, most have been shopping for weeks or months already.
  • The “I don’t start shopping until December”-ers: The name says it all – they do 90% to 100% of their shopping within the first two weeks of December.
  • The procrastinators: “It’s December 22nd? I should think about going shopping…tomorrow.”

When planning your marketing strategy, it’s important to know which audience you are reaching. I work with Cloud 9, a baby and children’s boutique in Decatur, Alabama, on social media marketing all year long. During our planning session in July, we carefully discussed the kind of shoppers we needed to reach – early birds. Parents who want to make sure they have THE hottest toys of the season are not going to wait until last minute to buy them, which is why their Christmas campaign kicked off November 3rd.

2. Dress for the Occasion

I’m not talking your personal outfits, but if you like tacky holiday sweaters, I won’t judge. (I might, a little.) Make sure both your website and social media channels are dressed for the holidays by creating custom cover photos and profile images without editing your logo! that depict your holiday campaign theme. Last year at Red Sage, we launched our “Favorite Things” holiday campaign and used our favorite holiday recipes, memories, photos, songs as graphic images on our social media accounts. Here are a few examples:

Xmas facebook memories

amanda whatilove-6    profile recipes

3. Craft a Blog Post with Holiday Gift Ideas

If you aren’t blogging yet, you need to be. (We’ll even give you some tips for doing it right as an incentive to start!)

Use your blog to help people this holiday season – get right into your store.  Craft a gift ideas blog posts with your audience in mind. Post one now to reach the early birds, another one in a couple of weeks for the “I don’t start shopping until December”-ers, and a last-minute gift one the week before Christmas for the procrastinators.

Here is a great gift item blog post by Bailey at Cloud 9 that is a perfect example of how to tell people about the gift items you’re offering this holiday season.

Want to reach even more people? Recommend some gifts from other merchants in the area. They may return the favor! Most people are shopping for many age ranges, so working with others to include a variety of different places and gift ideas can help get your business be discovered.

Struggling with the idea of sending business elsewhere? We would like to take this moment to remind you of the famous “customer first ” scene in “Miracle on 34th Street” when Santa tells Mom she might find the toy Macy’s does not carry at Gimbel’s.

4. Give Back and Encourage Participation

In lieu of holiday gifts to our corporate customers, Red Sage donates to a non-profit in our customers’ names every year. In 2012, we let our Facebook fans help us select the winning charity. (The app has been deactivated, but Big Brothers, Big Sisters was the winning non-profit organization.) In previous years, we also created a micro-site to let people vote.

Not only is giving back to the community just a great thing to do, but it can also really bring traffic to your website, Facebook page, and even to your business! Last year, the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority (DDRA), held a Holiday Windows for Cheer & Charity Contest on Facebook that helped bring visibility to the downtown stores.

DDRA Gives-2

The winning store, The Antique Basket, really got into the promotion. The owner actively shared the contest, asked people to vote for her store, AND, when all the voting was in – donated $250 of her own money to the charity of her choice, Decatur Animal Services.


The DDRA, a community organization designed to bring economic development to merchants and restaurants downtown, not only gained attention for their campaign, but also drove attention to many area businesses who participated in the contest. And a worthy non-profit got a much-needed donation. Everyone won with this campaign.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Get Emotional

The holidays are full of nostalgia and sentimental moments. Instead of avoiding that, embrace it! While I can (have, and will continue to) maintain that people want to see the human element behind your brand at all times of the year, there is no better time to showcase this than the holidays.

Back to an old favorite: No one has done this better than Canadian airline, WestJet.

Their flash mob video from 2012 has over 1 million views – an impressive number until compared to what they did last year.

Santa? Check.

People crying over getting their biggest wishes delivered? Check.

Something you will remember? Check.

This video has an emotional element to it that you just cannot get with other mediums – you not only see that someone has been crying, but the tears of joy literally streaming down their faces. Bring light to someone’s life this Christmas and capture that special moment on video.

Call on the Red Sage Elves

Is a little help with a holiday marketing strategy on your wish list this year? Call us at 256-560-0098 or email us at We make great elves.

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