How to Host a Holiday Promotion — Even if You Don’t Sell A Holiday Product

Feeling a little grinchy with all this talk of holiday promotions, because you don’t think your business qualifies?

Cheer up, Scrooge!

I know that businesses who don’t see themselves as selling holiday products might think that they can’t run a holiday promotion, but that’s simply not true. Even business-to-business providers (like copywriters and designers) or service providers (like life coaches or personal stylists) can get in on the holiday action.  

If every year when holiday promotions roll around you feel a bit left out, never fear!  I’ve got some ideas how you can get into the holiday spirit (and take advantage of holiday shoppers) this year.

Not sure if your business is right for a holiday promotion? Download my free Brainstorm Your Holiday Promotion worksheet and start thinking outside the gift-wrapped box — click here to download it now.

Holiday shopping isn’t only about gifts

For many businesses that don’t consider themselves part of the holiday promotion train, things can slow down a lot at the end of the year. They don’t put out any marketing or launch anything new, especially in the last few weeks of December. In part, they may think that their customers are all busy thinking about other things, in part they may be responding to staff taking time off, or they may not want to compete with all the holiday messages out there.

But consider this: If none of your competitors is saying anything during that time, couldn’t you fill the silence?

Smart marketers can take advantage of the lack of activity in their space to stand out for their customers.  

In addition, all of our customers are primed to look for end-of-year deals on everything. Any company can use the language of holiday sales (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.) to offer special promotions for their customers.

Businesses can also take advantage of the fact that people are more likely to click on ads and take action on offers during the holiday season — even if there is nary a Santa hat nor candy cane to be found in your creative.

Check out these interesting ways to take advantage of holiday promotions for your business.

1. Stay top of mind (and build your list) with a gift.

Many businesses have a longer sales cycle than a traditional retail business. If you sell consulting for thousands of dollars, people aren’t going to find you on Facebook, click over to your website, and buy the same day. These kinds of products, services, and businesses require a much longer “getting to know you” period before a customer is ready to buy.

So instead of asking your customers to buy from you for the holidays, maybe your goal instead is to build your list and spread some goodwill. And one excellent way to do this is to give away a holiday “gift.”

Content marketing giant Hubspot offered 250 holiday-themed stock photos to its audience — totally for free.  Because they knew their audience (businesses doing content marketing) they knew what kind of gift would be appealing to that market. Hubspot doesn’t produce or sell stock photos, but they knew this gift would really resonate with their customers, and they’re generating leads in the process.

What free holiday gift could you give to your audience or customers that they would really appreciate this season?

2. Demonstrate your services.

I bet if you get creative, you can figure out a way to hook your product or services to the holidays.  

If you’re an interior decorator, for example, you could share social media images and tips about how to decorate a space for the holidays.  If you are a graphic designer, you can remind people to spruce up their social media images for the holidays, or produce a tutorial showing how to add cute Santa hats to your profile picture.  If you are a masseuse or hair stylist, you can remind people to take care of themselves during the hectic holiday season.

By tying your own product or service to the holidays, you’re not only providing value through your content, but reminding people about what you do.

I love the example from this video marketing company, VidYard. To show off their video personalization services, they created this customizable holiday greeting video — their viewers could input their own name and details, which would then show up in the video.

A super smart and creative way to showcase their own service with a holiday theme.

3. Host a contest

Holiday-themed contests and giveaways don’t have to be exclusively for product-based companies!  No matter what you offer, I’m sure your audience would be excited to receive it for free, so why not host a contest or giveaway?

Holidays are a wonderful excuse to get generous with your audience, and contests and giveaways are incredible for building your list and generating leads. They’re also a fun and easy way to build your brand on social media.

What should your contest be?  Well, that’s up to you, but incorporating user-generated content is much more fun than a straight giveaway.


SnapApp hosted an “Ugly Sweater Contest” for charity in 2015, which raised both brand awareness and money for 5 of their favorite charities.

4. Straight up coupons or sales

Finally, don’t discount the almighty discount.  Because shoppers are primed to look for end-of-year deals and steals, they may be triggered to buy if you offer a coupon, discount, or sale on your product or service — whether you sell industrial widgets or SEO automation.

No matter what you sell, remember my four keys to a profitable holiday promotion:

    1. Build anticipation. Start ASAP to get your audience excited about your holiday promotion.
    2. Create a VIP list. Make action-takers feel special by giving them exclusive access or extra goodies.
    3. Use scarcity. The holiday season doesn’t last forever, so use the built in time limits to your advantage.
    4. Add an extension. Especially if your product or service isn’t necessarily “holiday dependant” consider extending your offer just a little past the holiday deadline.

This four-part formula has worked not just for my business, but for hundreds of others across all different industries and niches — which is why I know it will work for YOU, too.

But don’t wait; the best holiday promotions will start soon! Click here to download my free Brainstorm Your Holiday Promotion Worksheet and get started now.


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