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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 27 September 2021
  • Leo Covey

Your 2021 Small Business Guide to Holiday Marketing

‘Tis the season to start thinking about the holidays. After all, more shoppers are likely to begin their shopping before the end of October than they are right after the “traditional” Thanksgiving start. What that means for you as a small business owner is there’s no time like the present to set the details for a successful holiday marketing plan. This year, like last year’s holiday, will be affected by the realities of the pandemic and its effects on customer expectations and even the supply chain.

Family seeing sales on tablet

As a small business owner, you can meet these challenges head-on and create a merry experience for everyone by following a few strategic tips for your 2021 holiday marketing plan.

 Deck the halls and everything else

The holidays are quite literally a cause for celebration, a time to steer away from “business as usual” and aim for something more joyous and festive. As you begin to organize your holiday marketing plans, start with the “window dressing” to tap into the right holiday vibe.

  • Decorate your small business and put up holiday signs to entice shoppers.
  • Consider sensory elements that can conjure fun and warmth. The smell of fresh baked cookies or the right holiday playlist can open your customers’ hearts and wallets.
  • Plan for a cadence of social media that celebrates the holidays and exudes gratitude for your customers and employees.
  • Schedule your holiday sales and promotions, and then communicate them via social media and newsletters.

 Give the gift of time

Gone are the days when the traditional visit to a brick-and-mortar store was the only way to go about holiday shopping. Advancements in technology combined with the effects of the pandemic have trained shoppers to expect more convenient ways of shopping. It is your job to extend these “shopportunities” into your holiday marketing plans for maximum ease and convenience. After all, one of the greatest gifts you can provide your customers this year is the gift of precious time saved.

  • Consider extending your store hours, or providing special hours for senior citizens, to accommodate more social distancing for those who need it most.
  • Make sure your e-commerce is operating as frictionless as possible.
  • If possible, consider delivery and curbside pickup for customers who are in a rush.

 Make it meaningful

Ease and convenience are great from a rational perspective, but the holidays are all about emotions, right? Now more than ever, your holiday shoppers are craving connection and meaning, and your holiday marketing plans can deliver in a multitude of merry ways.

  • If you are a retailer, carry gifts that are local, handmade or imbued with an artisanal quality.
  • Add special touches to the purchase to increase the perceived value, like complimentary gift wrapping, engraving or packaging.
  • Send thoughtful notes or emails to your VIP customers, welcoming them to your business during the holidays, with special offers and savings.
  • Tap into the altruistic spirit of giving and align with a nonprofit for charitable giving that your customers can feel good about. Speaking of which...

 Take advantage of the big shopping holidays

As previously written about on this blog, there are four shopping holidays that will “officially” kick off the 2021 season in rapid succession right after Thanksgiving. This year, their dates are: Black Friday, November 26; Small Business Saturday, November 27; Cyber Monday, November 29; and Giving Tuesday, November 30. No holiday marketing plan is complete without harnessing the unique potential of each of these days.

 Plan for supply chain challenges

The pandemic has taxed the global supply chain like never before. Not only are consumer goods becoming harder to find, the cost to transport them from overseas is skyrocketing. The situation is becoming more challenging and might not be resolved until Q1 of 2022. This may affect your small business in various ways this holiday. Many businesses will find themselves at the wrong end of the supply chain squeeze. However, some small businesses may be able to pivot more quickly than global retailers by sourcing goods from small, domestic manufacturers. The bottom line: Be cautious in your holiday plans and promises, and then over deliver. Better to exceed conservative expectations than run the risk of disappointing a customer with a delayed or canceled order.

 As we race toward the 2021 holidays, know that your The UPS Store® is here to help you with everything from printing holiday signs to sending holiday mailers to your customers and more.



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