Small Business Holiday Marketing on a Shoestring

Dear Debra:  What holiday marketing promotional strategies can a small business owner operating under cash crunch can utilize? I know it’s smart to tie in with seasonal themes, but need to be frugal in this economy.

Create a 3-part telephone conference series, scheduled once a week a few weeks prior to the holiday you're tying in with. Rent an inexpensive bridge line (under $25 for each seminar or some providers offer free, bare bones services if you want to do your own recordings). Your participants need only a regular telephone line; they'll call in at the designated time, punch in the passcode you provide, and then sit back and enjoy 60 minutes of your presentation, interactive discussion, or maybe you'll decide to interview experts on your topics.

Send out an e-mail invitation to your list of customers and newsletter subscribers through a provider such as (send a thousand email invites for under $10).  Spell out exactly what they'll learn using intriguing bullet points.  For example, say you're an organizer.  Present a workshop on: "Take advantage of the holiday season business slowdown, reduce holiday stress, and gear up for the new year by clearing your office clutter using 3 simple, powerful, fast tips.  A caterer could do a series on, "How to Have 110% Stress-Free Holiday Parties and Family Gatherings", with practical tips for planning ahead, outsourcing catering, and increasing the odds that the host just may enjoy herself rather than end up pulling out her hair.

Charge $25 for each segment, or $59 for all three.  Offer to include Cds or MP3s, and/or transcripts of the courses if customers pay an extra $10.  For example, Dan Janal of Great Teleseminars will record your telephone seminars and produce your Cds, MP3s, and transcripts fast at a reasonable cost.  You'll then have these as high-quality information products (you're offering up your expert advice) that you can sell or use as marketing giveaways-forever.  Make product creation a part of your long-term business strategy and get these offerings up on your website and into your weekly email newsletters.  If you produce quality materials, your customers will buy.

Determined to send out holiday gifts like you always do, but this year you want to cut costs?  Create a low-cost promotional magnet that you design yourself.  EmbossedGraphics has good prices, customer service, and fast turnaround.  For example, a C.P.A. could create a "Save the Date" magnet that has April 15th, 2009 circled; include her business contact information, plus 3 super-brief tips for gearing up for taxes way in advance, one of which could be, "Schedule appointment with me today; plan ahead."

Pick up the phone today and brainstorm with your informal advisory board about other clever ideas.  Cash flow may be tight, but your creativity is free--and fun.

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Thank you very much for this insightful idea. I love coming on line on a Saturday and brousing the web vs. wasting away in front of a college football game. I admire people like you who not only are inventive, however take the time to share it with others. Thank you.

Hi Debra -

Thanks for the kind words about VerticalResponse.

Jenna Jantsch

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