Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can’t miss the popular holiday’s decorations and sounds the moment the last piece of pie disappears on Thanksgiving. Retail stores, homes, even vehicles, are suddenly overrun with Christmas cheer. And if there’s one image that dominates the sea of red and green, it’s that of Good Old Saint Nick.

That’s right, Santa Claus.

In fact, Santa (as we’d recognize him today) began appearing in shopping malls and newspaper ads as early as the 1840s.

This year, in the spirit of giving, we’re sharing 6 lessons small business owners can learn from the season’s jolliest gift giver.

1. Always check your list twice.

“He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice…”

Before Santa Claus comes to town, he double checks that infamous nice-or-naughty list. But there’s a different list that’s just as important to small businesses, and that’s your contact list.

Especially before you begin sending holiday marketing campaigns, double check your contact list for accuracy. In marketing, we call this scrubbing your contact list.

Why is it important to keep your contact list up to date? Incorrect or old contact information could mean your favorite clients will miss your best holiday deals and offers. On the other hand, sending texts or emails to old contacts who may no longer wish to hear from you could land you on the marketing naughty list (otherwise known as the “SPAM” label).

Spend some time cleaning up your list and confirming contact details with your clients. You’ll reap the rewards of repeat business this season.

2. Don’t be intimidated by tight spaces.

Every December, the big guy has to prepare to suck in his belly to fit into even the tightest of chimneys. And children everywhere wonder how Santa will find his way into apartments and homes without fireplaces at all. But somehow, the magic always happens.

Just like Santa doesn’t get discouraged, don’t let tight spaces intimidate your business either. You may think there’s just not enough room or resources to decorate your physical location or company vehicles with holiday promotions. But it’s just not true!

Ideas for decorating your business this holiday that don’t require much room or budget:

  • Hang ornaments and decorative snowflakes from your storefront’s ceiling.
  • Place a Santa sign holder outside your door on the sidewalk, and write daily holiday promotions in chalk.
  • Play holiday music over the speakers.
  • Buy festive car magnets for company vehicles that say, “Ask me about holiday deals and steals!”

3. Never underestimate the power of milk and cookies.

Everyone loves a freebie, especially during the holidays. Offering sweets and treats (edible or not) is a great way to get customers in the door at your brick and mortar store or to show clients your thanks for their repeat business.

Holiday treats you can offer:

  • Santa’s favorite — milk and cookies
  • Reindeer snacks — carrots and other veggies
  • Mrs. Claus’ eggnog — festive adult beverages

4. A lot can happen in one night.

You’re not alone if you feel overwhelmed by the holidays. Most small businesses get busier and busier, but unlike Santa, you probably don’t have a workshop full of elves to help out.

Take a deep breath, and consider other ways to save time.

  • Set a holiday auto-reply message alerting clients and customers that you’re busier than normal but are working hard to reply as quickly as possible.
  • Schedule text and email communications in advance, so you don’t have to find the time to send holiday marketing campaigns quite as often.
  • Schedule social media posts in advance, so you don’t have to log in every day.
  • Set calendar reminders for your most critical tasks.
  • Block off time on your calendar to get things done so you can’t be overbooked.

5. People really love their furry friends.

Got a soft spot in your heart for Rudolph? So do we.

But the North Pole isn’t the only place with animal lovers. People go all out for their pets, and anyone with four-legged friends feels they’re part of the family. To prove it, U.S. consumers spent $72.56 billion on their pets in 2018 alone.

This holiday season, and really year-round, find ways to show your clients their pets are important too. It’ll humanize your business and is a creative way to get them to remember you’ve done something special.

Popular pet-lover promotions:

  • Offer dog treats to anyone who shows up with a dog. *Always ask the owner permission to share before feeding their fur baby!
  • If you visit clients’ homes, keep a few toys or treats in your company vehicles.
  • Incorporate animal images and gifs into your social media posts. (Who doesn’t love a funny cat video?)
  • Cross promote with other small businesses in your area, especially pet and animal services businesses.

6. We’re useless without good GPS.

Even magical Santa needs his sleigh to navigate the skies. Similarly, more than 50% of consumers use their cell phones for maps and navigation at least monthly. And if you’re like me, you use your mobile device’s map for more than just getting around town.

These days, consumers use map applications to find nearby businesses, contact those businesses, even book appointments and buy online. One of the best ways your small business can take advantage of these searches is to get listed with the most popular map applications.

Not sure where to start? 3 in 4 iOS (Apple) users trust Apple Maps over Google Maps, since it comes standard on mobile Apple devices.

How to claim your Apple Maps listing and show up in local maps searches:

  1. Get an Apple ID if you don’t already have one.
  2. Visit https://mapsconnect.apple.com.
  3. Claim your listing. Even if you didn’t set it up, chances are there’s already a listing for your business. But if you don’t see it, choose Add New Place.
  4. Enter and verify your business information like Business Name, Category and Phone Number.
  5. Select This place is open.
  6. Answer the phone! Apple will likely call you to confirm you own the number you’ve entered.
  7. Set your location and map marker.
  8. Finish by adding your hours, website, social links and other business details.