5 holiday marketing ideas for local businesses

SEO and General Business tutorials and tips.

This article was sourced from by MOZ.

Growing up in a small, Dutch town in Iowa, I was raised to support local businesses. These were my schoolmates’ parents, my neighbors, my family friends. We bought gifts for teachers, clothing for ourselves, treats after a long day at the pool, and everything else right in our town.

My love for local communities led me through a career in local engagement. Now, through my Local Business School, I help local business owners open brick-and-mortar stores and leverage digital tools to support their growth.

And really, most people want to support local businesses. But they’re also overwhelmed and busy, and convenience sometimes wins out. That’s why, especially with the holidays approaching, you need to give them a reason to choose local—to choose you. Here are some tips and examples of creative digital marketing to encourage that choice.

1. Create a digital shopping guide

If you hear the word “catalog” and picture a little booklet arriving in your mailbox, it’s time to broaden your definition. The modern-day catalog is digital—and a lot simpler.

From Instagram Highlights with quick video snippets of your items to blog articles featuring your products to a Facebook album with all of your pieces ready to buy, it’s easier than ever to showcase what you’re selling and ensure those late-night, mindless scrollers buy from you.

Tricia Rivas is the owner of Trixies Salon & Spa and a student in our Local Business School. This year, she created a local shopping guide full of products and services her business offers.

A screenshot of the gift guide

It showcases new products, describes recent collaborations, and offers holiday discounts on select products and services. And when you click on it, you’re brought to her Facebook page showcasing her open house event.

The Facebook Page linked to from the gift guide

What I specifically love about Trixie’s guide is that she categorizes her products into helpful sections like “stocking stuffers.” When you do the work for your customer—for example, offering them products that’ll work perfectly in a stocking—you’re making their buying decisions a lot easier. Here are a few other examples you might showcase in a catalog.

  • 5 gifts your dad will love

  • 10 kid-friendly gifts under $25

  • 12 stocking stuffers every mom will love

  • 7 things your best friend will love for under $15

  • Splurge on your spouse with these $100+ bags

When you position your products for a specific person or a specific budget, you draw in people who may have looked past items otherwise. And remember, you don’t have to limit this to your digital marketing—you can set up your brick-and-mortar store the same way.

2. Go live on Facebook or Instagram

While in Branson, Missouri this summer with my family, my mom insisted we go to The Quilted Cow, so she could find some new patterns for her quilting obsession. I loved the place, and I noticed that they offer a weekly Facebook Live where they highlight specific products and allow viewers to buy items on the spot by saying certain words. By playing along, folks can shop in their pajamas, and The Quilted Cow will ship everything to them.

Check out one of their latest shopping experiences on Facebook Live and the interaction this one video received.

A screenshot of the Facebook Live from The Quilted Cow

Going live encourages people to show up for the event—they can also win prizes and purchase items that aren’t available on their webblog. While buyers can still watch the Facebook Live after, they aren’t guaranteed the items will be available.

Maybe The Quilted Cow can inspire you to go live a few times. Get your followers excited about buying from you live, and deal with the rest after—they pick it up, you ship it, whatever works. There’s no wrong way to do it.

3. Add some holiday spirit to your feed with Reels

Here’s a quick idea: take a four- or five-second video of 10 items under $50 in your shop, pull them all into an Instagram Reel, and put it to the song, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” Or grab a few clips of your store decked out for the holidays and use the song “Let it Snow.”

Or you could take a cue from Kyanie at Coco Dreams Candle & Co, and create a Reel with a small behind-the-scenes look at how your products are created while “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” plays.

Amazon is great for some things—making people feel warm and fuzzy isn’t one of them. That’s something you can do with a quick video and a little music, so give it a try.

P.S. Don’t have any inspiration for images or movies to article? Turn to your customers and partners. One Love Local follower, Danielle at Cheers Ink, was struggling to come up with images to article of her new ornaments because she hadn’t yet put up her own Christmas tree. So she reached out to other retailers who sold her ornaments and asked them to send images of her products in their stores. This not only gave her more images to article, but it also showed her local followers where they could buy her ornaments around town and uplifted other local businesses. A real win-win.

4. Email your list often

I talk to a lot of local business owners who ignore email marketing—or at least underutilize it—because they think of it as a big investment, and one better suited to digital businesses. But there are plenty of free email marketing platforms with easy-to-use templates and sending options.

Think you don’t have anything to share in email? You do!

  • That blog article you wrote about top 10 items for mom

  • The upcoming Facebook Live you’re doing to sell items that aren’t listed on the webblog

  • Updated store hours and any holiday parties you’re hosting

  • 3 Reels your customers will love

  • Photos of your products and links to buy them on your blog

  • Updates that you’re now selling on Facebook and Instagram

  • Promotions or giveaways your customers will enjoy

  • A holiday pop-up you’re hosting

One of our clients is planning to send emails reminding loyalty program customers to come in and redeem their rewards. Generally, emails are a great way to nudge your customers, ambassadors, and fans to take action—the only wrong way to use it is not at all.

Use email to complement your in-person and social efforts. And vice versa: drive signups to your email list at checkout with a pen and paper or by integrating it with your POS system.

5. Incentivize last year’s customers to return

Email is also a great way to be sure this year’s holiday customers continue to shop with you once the holidays are over.

Here’s an example: one of our clients, Sara Jacobson, owner of Fusion Boutique, is offering “Fusion Cash” to anyone who makes a purchase in November or December. Shoppers will then be able to redeem $10 off their purchase of $50 or more in the new year. This encourages customers to come back after the holiday rush—and also incentivizes customers to purchase in the moment, knowing they’ll be able to get cash back in the new year.

An image of the Fusion Cash

You could offer scratch-off coupons, pull out a giant wheel people can spin for discounts, or collaborate with other local shops on joint discounts. Even small sales or incentives will encourage people to shop with you now and beyond the holiday season.

The ultimate goal is to make holiday shopping enjoyable and easy. Don’t get too caught up in trying out every single tip you see here. Pick one or two things that seem like a fit, and really commit to putting them into action this year. I’m excited to see what you try!

And if you’re looking for a little extra guidance on areas you should be optimizing in your local business, we created the Ultimate Checklist for Local Business Owners to be sure nothing is slipping through the cracks.

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