By this point, you don’t need anyone to tell you the holiday season is right around the corner.

You saw how fast September flew by and you’re probably already thinking ahead to November.

But even if you haven’t started your holiday planning for your business — it’s not too late to make your promotion great.

In fact, with the right preparation, you could have a promotion ready for the holidays that will help grow your business long after the decorations are taken down and packed away.

Here are five ways to make your holiday promotion great:

1. Make it timely

You’ve probably heard about the three big shopping days of the holiday season:

  • Black Friday (November 29)
  • Small Business Saturday (November 30)
  • Cyber Monday (December 2)

These three dates need to be marked on the calendar when planning your holiday promotions.

But you can’t wait until November to start thinking about how you’re going to get your piece of the retail pie this holiday season. In fact, 35% of consumers have already started their holiday shopping.

Take time as soon as you can to start mapping out a schedule for the holiday season. Think about when you send your regularly scheduled email newsletter, what you’ll be posting on Facebook or Twitter leading up to the holidays, and when you may want to offer a local deal.

Keep in mind that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are just the start of the shopping season. Most of your customers will be shopping right through the end of December. Making your promotions timely, can make all the difference in whether or not they’ll be shopping with you.

Tip: When family and friends gather on November 28th, to say “thanks,” they’ll be talking about a lot more than just turkey. Consider sending out a reminder about your Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday deal right before Thanksgiving to get families talking about your business.

2. Make it easy

We all know holiday shopping isn’t always an experience worth celebrating.

With shopping lists that seem never-ending, crowds that won’t quit, and planning that never seems to be enough — your customers are hungry for something simple.

Here are five tips for making your promotions easy on your customers.

  • Make it relevant: Consumers get plenty of irrelevant content thrown at them during the holidays. Make sure you’re paying attention to what your customers really want this year. If you start now, you could use a survey to ask customers exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Let your visuals do the talking: Using visuals to tell your story provides content that is “easy on the eyes” for your customers. Pick which products you want to highlight this season, and show them to your audience. Provide some information about each and make sure to provide customers with a way to ask questions.
  • Design wisely: Don’t overcrowd your emails with unnecessary design choices. Make your emails easy to navigate, so your customers can quickly find what they’re looking for. (Here are 7 design mistakes that make readers trash your emails.)
  • Use links effectively: During the holiday season, customers just want to get where they are going. When it comes to your promotion, that means using links that actually work and link directly to the product, service, or event you are promoting.
  • Make your call-to-action strong: Help your customers make decisions by including a call-to-action that makes it easy to take the next step. Whether it’s linking to a deal, or getting customers to click-through to your website, a strong call-to-action can make all the difference.

Tip: Think mobile: With 81% of Americans using smartphones, it’s never been more important to make it easy for customers to connect with your business on-the-go.

3. Make it personal

Your customers are going to be receiving a lot of promotions this holiday season, and very few of them will be personal.

Help your business stand out from the holiday avalanche, by adding the personal touch your customers are looking for. One way to do that is simply by adding “You” and “Your” or “I” and “We” to your content. (For example: “We have a new collection your friends are going to love…”)

But it’s more than that. It’s really about putting yourself into the shoes of your customers. What’s on their mind this holiday season? What problems can you help them solve? How can you make things easier on them?

Think about including helpful holiday articles or recipes in your upcoming email newsletter, or post them on Facebook. If you’re a Pinterest user, create a “Holiday” board and pin stuff that may not have anything to do with what you’re selling, but that your customers can use.

Tip: Have a personal holiday experience you think your customers will enjoy? Sharing it with your customers will help humanize your brand and show your customers it’s not all about the promotion.

4. Make it engaging

One good thing about the holiday season is that the content your customers love the rest of the year still works.

This means you don’t have to have a ridiculous deal or a blockbuster giveaway to get people excited about your holiday promotion.

Here are four tips for creating an engaging holiday promotion.

  • Use photos: Photos drive BIG engagement — the engagement rate of photos on Facebook is higher than video, text, and shared links. Snap a picture at your shop or of your staff preparing for the holidays and share it with your fans and followers.
  • Use video: Have a smartphone? Shoot a quick video to post on Instagram. Whether it’s a product demo, customer testimonial, or just a look behind the scenes, videos are a great way to engage your customers this holiday season.
  • Showcase reviews: A recent study found that 97% of people read reviews for local businesses. Include relevant reviews, feedback, ratings, and quotes in your next email newsletter or share a link to your business’ Yelp page on your other social networks.
  • Ask questions: Sometimes all it takes to get people engaging with your content is asking them what’s on their mind. Asking questions lets your customers know you’re listening and shows you’re interested in a lot more than just making a sale.

Tip: Consider using a “fill in the blank” on Facebook, instead of the typical question. Phrasing a statement like: “This Holiday Season I’m Most Excited About [BLANK]” and then asking fans to fill in the blank. It’s a great way to boost real engagement.

5. Make it shareable

This year, spread the holiday spirit, and your holiday promotion, by leveraging the power of word-of-mouth marketing on social media, and in your email newsletter.

That starts with creating shareable content. This is the type of stuff your audience will love so much they won’t be able to wait to tell their friends about it.

We’ve already outlined some great tips for creating shareable holiday content including:

  • Reminding your audience of your shared values
  • Providing added value
  • Engaging your audience with social campaigns and special offers

You can also take advantage of the growing popularity of local deals. Last year, one in four consumers purchased a local deal during the holiday. That’s great news for small business, because this year, you won’t have to offer 50% of your revenue to a deal provider to run a deal your customers will want to tell their friends about.

Put it all together and make it great

With the right combination of shareable content, this holiday season should be a memorable one for your small business.

Editor’s Note: Originally posted in 2012, this article was updated for relevance and accuracy on November 14, 2019.