3 Holiday Marketing Ideas to Bring Customers Back Before Year’s End

 In Marketing Tips

The holidays are upon us, and a brand new year is so close we can taste it. If you own a brick-and-mortar business, the last few weeks of the year provide an immense opportunity. Let’s take a look at a handful of holiday marketing ideas that are proven to work, and work well.

Holiday value

When it comes to marketing their business when time is short, an entrepreneur needs to focus on where they can get the most bang for their buck. Perhaps the first decision he or she needs to make is the degree to which they’re going to concentrate on new customers or court existing customers. There are certainly benefits to both, so the question becomes where his or her primary focus lies. The marketing techniques used for each, however, might be completely different, and should be approached as so.

The temptation, especially among the many small business owners we speak with, is to spend the lion’s share of a marketing budget on acquiring new business.

“We need everyone to know we’re here,” they might say.

They might pay for direct mail campaigns, newspaper ads, targeted social media or deal-based exposure services like Groupon.

We don’t disagree with any of those techniques — instead recommending that business owners consider the relative effort and financial share they’re dedicating to these in relation to the attention offered existing customers.

The numbers are clear:

  • 80 percent of your future sales will come from 20 percent of your current customers (Gartner)
  • Returning customers spend 76% more than first-time customers (Bain)
  • It costs 5X more to acquire new customers than to keep current ones (Forrester)

With those figures in mind, it’s equally evident that a business owner’s primary focus should be on their existing customers. The question becomes “How can I most effectively bring those customers back in, make their experience a positive one and help them feel comfortable spending their hard-earned money with us?”

Of course, marketing directly to existing customers during the holidays requires working hard throughout the year to get to know them, show them a great experience and have a way to reach out to them individually. Most often, this involves an email address, phone number or mailing address. We’ll assume you’re starting with a list of customers, but if you’d like some tips on how to build that list, read up on How to Build a Text and Email List.

Holiday marketing ideas

That all being said, these three end-of-year marketing ideas can be pulled off simply and effectively. Provided you have a solid list of existing customers and a way to plug them into an email or text marketing campaign, you can put any one of these into practice immediately.

1. One special deal

You’ve seen this idea before, but there’s nothing quite like the prospect of “Free” or “Deep discount” to get someone through the door. Is there one product or service that you can offer at a slim or nonexistent margin in the hopes that it will draw people through the door or provide a pathway to a larger total ticket price?

Here’s what that might look like for different industries.


  • Free dessert
  • Free drink
  • Discounted seasonal cuisine
  • Kids eat free/cheaper


  • Same price, longer session
  • Free/discounted supplementary product
  • Discounted add-on services
  • Discounted/free services in exchange for scheduling out appointments into next year

Recreation/fun center:

  • Double loyalty points
  • Discounted bring-a-friend
  • Free equipment upgrade
  • Discount on party booking


  • Discounted training
  • Discounted membership renewal
  • Discounted visitor passes
  • Free services (daycare, on-site masseuse, chiropractor, etc)

Start getting the word out to your customers — the words being “exclusive,”- “VIP,”- “members-only”-type messages. In a world where people are used to hearing “Offer good only for new customers,” you want your loyal customers to know that they’re the ones that should be rewarded.

2. 12 Days of Christmas

You’ll need to get moving on this immediately, but we’ve seen businesses have major success with recurring holiday marketing ideas like this. Sit down and see whether you could come up with 12 different daily deals. If not, or if you run out of time, there’s no reason you couldn’t do a 6 Days of Christmas campaign.

If a 12-day series of messages brought each customer in for even one visit, how much of a difference would that make? Imagine if the deals, and accompanying experience, were striking enough to bring them back in twice, three times or even more. Customer retention like that could make a significant difference in a business owner’s revenue.

Here’s an example of a 12-day campaign for a women’s clothing boutique (closed Sundays):

  • December 11th – Fleece-lined leggings $6
  • December 12th – All coats and jackets 25% OFF
  • December 14th – All wrapping paper 40% OFF
  • December 15th – All hats and beanies 30% OFF
  • December 16th – All scarves $7.99
  • December 17th – Earrings 4 pairs for $20
  • December 18th – All jeans buy 1 get 1 HALF OFF
  • December 19th – All boots 25% OFF
  • December 21st – $50 Gift Certificate for $45 OR $100 Gift Certificate for $90
  • December 22nd – All jewelry 25% OFF
  • December 23rd – All hoodies 25% OFF
  • December 24th – All purses 40% OFF

It’s important to note that it would be hard to do something like this as a new customer acquisition tactic. There’s a degree of familiarity and loyalty that needs to be present before someone allows a business to reach out to them 12 times in 12 days. The more intimate the channel, the more true this becomes.

3. Gift cards

In the case of gift cards, you’re not as much selling products as you are the prospect of selling products in the future. It can, however, be an excellent way to sacrifice margins now in exchange for a guaranteed future interaction with a customer.

Those future sales might come from the customer themselves (taking advantage now of a promotion, acknowledging that they’ll want to frequent your business in the future), or they might come from someone the customer gifted the cards to.

Either way, the purchase of a gift card, during a season of giving, can be a hugely telling gesture, and can help surface the degree to which your customers are interested in engaging with you in a recurring manner.

Take for example this customer, a restaurant, that reached out to their existing customers with an email. Here’s what the email said:

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

As 2018 approaches and we reflect on the past year, we’d like to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of our customers and friends.

We are so grateful for your support and enthusiasm and look forward to continuing to serve you in the new year!

Now, buy a $50 gift card get a $10 card FREE or buy a $100 gift card get a $20 card for FREE! Offer expires 12/31.

For one, the business used a gift card as a way to say thank you to their customers, while also passing on an offer for a promotion that would require those customers to return.

Take any one of these ideas and put it to the test as you round out the year. If you’ve directed the bulk of your marketing efforts toward acquiring new customers and leaving your repeat customers to chance, CityGro would invite you to consider how adjusting that perspective might affect business in the year to come.

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