21 Tips to Make Your Marketing Stand Out this Holiday Season

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1.3 billion

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That’s the number of emails Constant Contact customers sent last year in the week leading up to Cyber Monday.

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With so much competition in the inbox, you may be wondering how you’re going to STAND OUT this holiday season.

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We recently reached out to 21 small business experts to get their best tips for standing out during the holidays.

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Here’s what they had to say…

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1. Start early “Plan ahead — set up an automated email series to help plan for the holiday season. Do all the set up in the slow summer months and execute/launch it during the busy holiday season.” Vito Marchese Founder, Whiteboard Studio Inc. @VitoMarchese

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2. Put your customer first “Ask yourself: How does your company want the customer to feel during the holidays? Make that happen!” Barry Moltz Author of How to Get Unstuck @barrymolt

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3. Offer something valuable “Give existing customers a discount on something you know they really value — your best-selling item, for instance. Give them a code to share it with someone else, too. Anita Campbell Founder, Small Business Trends @smallbiztrends By giving preference to existing customers, you show you value them. And they can spread the love, if they wish, with the discount code making them heroes, too.”

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4. Give gift ideas “One year I did 50 gifts under $50, and I had a whole slideshow I sent out. People really responded to that! I'll try to insert buttons into my emails, so they can just shop right in the email, and get back to my website.” Dawn Noble Owner, La Provence @laprov

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5. Be sentimental “For the vast majority of people, holiday time is all about family. To differentiate from your competitors, take this chance to let your customers know that they are more than just a dollar sign to you — they are your extended family that helps to provide a roof over your head, clothes to wear, and meals to eat. Bryan Caplan CEO, BJC Branding @bjcbranding You'll find the sentiment (and subsequent sales) exist long after the holidays are over.”

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6. Keep it simple “You probably don’t even need as much content as you start with, so just write something up and keep it simple.” Heath Bowman Owner, Southeastern Underdeck Systems www.southeasternunderdeck.com

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7. Use video “Business owners can make sure their marketing stands out by including more VIDEO across all platforms. There will be so many people promoting the same thing (as them) and video helps customers make a more informed decision by seeing exactly what they are getting.” Natalie Gouché Founder, L.A. Social Media Trainer Inc. @NatalieGouche

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8. Show your gratitude “When it comes to marketing, beat the December crowd and send out Thanksgiving cards to your clients and customers. Tell them how grateful you are for their business before all the other guys do during Christmas.” Vincent Ng President, MCNG Marketing @vincentng

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9. Get creative “You don’t have to always send out sales. If you send out a creative recommendation (like our cupcake centerpiece) or unique gift idea, that can be a breath of fresh air among all the special offers. We try to solve a problem for them or inspire our customers.” Sarah Waters Brand Director, Treat Cupcakes @TreatCupcake

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10. Provide a “WOW” experience “This holiday season make the most of the personal connections you’ve formed with your customers, connections that your bigger competitors simply don’t have. Gail Goodman CEO, Constant Contact @Gail_Goodman Engage and reward your loyal customers — ideas include giving them special shopping hours, great gift ideas, free wrapping, shipping or more. Create personalized “wow” moments that drive positive word of mouth — and more prospects through your door.”

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11. Be strategic “Consider all of the typical messages your potential customers have coming their way during the holiday season (Sale, BOGO, Santa). Now, recall your unique value proposition and what would drive you to engage if you were the customer. Implement a simple, easy-to-execute plan that frequently, consistently, and meaningfully conveys your value proposition and offers via email, social media, and other marketing channels.” Jake Burns Founder, South Direkt @SouthDirekt

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12. Do something different “Look at what everyone else is doing and rather than zig — do something incrementally better than everyone else — try to zag. This could mean a non holidaythemed color palette, a marketing tactic that none of your competitors are trying, or a type of unique promotion you haven't seen anywhere within your industry. That's my best advice: break through the clutter and stand out.” Jeremy Goldman Founder, Firebrand Group @jeremarketer

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13. Be bold “I have a cheese parade. I guess that stands out…” Peter Lovis Owner, The Cheese Shop @concordcheese

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14. Go behind-the-scenes “Empower team members to get festive and share visual content leading in to the holiday season — short video and images that show the humans "behind" the business will resonate with fans who are in celebration mode. Let the festive engagement begin!” Donna Moritz Founder, Socially Sorted @SociallySorted

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15. Communicate warmly “Marketing is about communication. And right now people are feeling connected to friends and family, as the holiday season arrives. Evoking such emotions and attaching your product or service to such warm and fuzzies is a good start. But you also need to create action once you have people's attention. Think how to relate to where they are and move them forward: 'Perfect for Thanksgiving', 'An ideal way for holiday makers to relax, and let [product] do the hard work.” Martin Shervington Consultant, Plus Your Business! @MartinSherv

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16. Stay consistent “We discount a few ‘surprise’ items for every Friday in December and let our subscribers know with email. Kolbie Richardson Online Manager, No Rest for Bridget @norest4bridget By having this consistency with an ongoing sale, we are able to stand out from our competitors and it also gives our customers something exciting to look forward to every week in December!”

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17. Create something memorable “Create a digital-wide plan (social media and web) that touches the heart and is cohesive across all your assets. Marketing such as Coca-Cola's Polar Bear commercials were cute, warm, memorable, and left you with that "Aww, that's nice" feeling. This touch of the heart will go much farther than screaming "Buy Now for Best Discount!" Mike Gingerich Co-founder, TabSite @mike_gingerich

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18. Go mobile “Don’t let your long To Do list overwhelm you. Take advantage of your phone by creating, sending, and tracking mobileoptimized email offers wherever and whenever — chances are your customers will be reading and acting on those very same offers while they’re on the go too!” Chris Litster SVP Sales and Marketing, Constant Contact @cmlitster

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19. Say thanks “Take the time to acknowledge and thank your customers. It’s important to remember that the holiday season isn’t joyous for everyone, some people really struggle at this time of year, especially if they are alone or recently lost a close family member. Find ways to include small, random acts of kindness and make them feel special. If you want to really wow them, take it offline and mail handwritten cards to some of your best customers!” Melonie Dodaro CEO, Top Dog Social Media @MelonieDodaro

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20. Go above and beyond “Small Businesses can make their holiday marketing stand out by doing something totally unexpected but appreciated. Kathy Hays Digital Strategist, Xcelacore @Xcelacore For example, a small gift shop can offer free gift wrapping; a oil change shop can offer a free interior car vacuuming; a local restaurant can offer an extra $5 dollars for a gift card purchase of $50, or an extra $10 on the card for an additional $100 card.”

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21. Show you care “Show empathy, be human and think like your customer.” Chris Del Grande Founder, Valued Merchant Services @ValuedMerchants

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Make this your best holiday season yet with stand-out email marketing! Try Constant Contact for free today.

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