The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently predicted a 4.1% increase in holiday sales this year.1 According to another recent survey by, a division of the NRF, online sales are expected to grow 12% over the 2011 holiday season, to as much as $96 billion.*** With some creativity, you can still put together a strong last minute holiday marketing mix, on and offline. Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

1) Update directory listings. Search engines and social media outlets have been rushing to offer better ways for customers to find products and services on a geographically-specific basis. Take advantage of this by making sure all major search engines and third-party indexes have your current business profile so customers can easily find you online. Visit to see what many of the major search engines and directories know about your business. You can also update your profile by clicking here. Be sure to list the languages spoken in your business because foreign speakers are more likely to search for a business that can also speak their language.

2) Refresh content. Appear higher in search engine rankings by adding a touch of the holidays to your website with some fresh content. Consider offering useful information for visitors such as gift ideas or community event listings you will participate in. If you haven’t refreshed your search engine optimization (SEO) keywords for your site in a while, it’s a good time to tweak them again.

3) Search Engine Marketing (SEM). You can also boost your position on search results pages with search engine marketing. SEM is a great way to drive traffic to your site and you only pay when someone clicks on your link. Visit Google Adwords to see what keywords businesses in your industry are buying and consider buying your business’ name so competitors can’t ride your coattails.

4) Email. Reach out with email marketing to the customers in your database, especially if they haven’t heard from you in a while. There’s no postage, printing or fulfillment time involved and you can enjoy the benefit of same-day messaging.

5) Mobile marketing. Start by making sure your website is optimized for mobile users since many last minute shoppers will be on their smart phones while shopping. Consider using text messaging for special promotions and discounts to customers that have provided you with their phone numbers. Also, think about adding QR codes to your marketing materials so visitors can go right to a specific page on your site.

6) Social media. Consider updating your social media pages; kind of like search engine optimization for social media. Echo the message of your print and email marketing with status updates and reminders of promotions. Think special holiday contests, discounts or a private flash sale on certain days. Encourage them to share your posts with their friends.

7) Gift cards. According to a consumer-tracking survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, 18% of all gift purchases in December of 2011 were made with gift cards.2 Consider providing buyers a bonus gift card to entice another purchase. Whether you offer plastic, digital or hand-printed gift cards, make sure you get the word out to cash in on these opportunities.

8) Point of purchase. Table toppers, flyers and window signage can be printed quickly to help capture in-store browsers. Keep your messages short, design clean, and text large enough to ensure a quick read from a short distance.

9) Community. It’s the season to give, so make it easy for customers to do so by buying from you. Consider giving a small percentage of your sales or profits to a local charity during the holiday season. Or, partner with a local charity to help those less fortunate. You’ll not only feel good for giving back, but building goodwill in your local community could be the reason a customer buys from you instead of your competitor.

10) Post-holiday sale. The shopping season doesn’t end on December 25th. ComScore reported that sales were $7.1 billion on the day after Christmas in 2011.3 Give holiday shoppers a reason to come back by providing a coupon with their pre-holiday purchase. And don’t forget about post-holiday clearance events and early New Year’s sales.

Start now. The holiday shopping season is upon us, but all is not lost if you haven’t made your marketing plans yet. If you get cracking now, you can still close out the year with strong sales numbers.


1 2012 Holiday Sales Forecast – National Retail Federation, October 2, 2012

2 Consumer-tracking Survey – International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, December 2011

3 ComScore, December 2011

***’s estimates are based on data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Federal Reserve, U.S. Census, The Conference Board, and NRF calculations. These include personal income and spending, consumer credit, consumer confidence, and previous monthly retail reports.

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