Small Towns and Businesses! Plan Christmas Activities & Marketing NOW!

by Joanne Steele on September 16, 2009

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Creative Commons License photo credit: rieh

I know, I know… It’s insanely early to think about Christmas, but when it comes to planning and marketing, it’s actually getting late!

Consider…

  1. Most retail businesses get up to 40% of their income during the Christmas season.
  2. People buy adventure trips as gifts, so recreation companies need to be busy at this time of year as well.
  3. Packaged travel is another great Christmas market- why not a (Your Town) Getaway Package.
  4. People gravitate to small towns at Christmas time for that “It’s a Wonderful Life” feeling.

So plan now in order to capture some of this Christmas Cheer for your business and your town.

For Chambers:

1. Any coordinated town-wide project starts with the Chamber of Commerce. What, besides hanging Christmas lights could the Chamber sponsor?

  • Extended shopping hours with carolers and refreshments in stores?
  • A Getaway package for your town coordinated, marketed and sold through the Chamber?
  • Extra decorations in town – maybe greenery swags or extra lighting on building fronts?
  • Town-wide gift certificates coordinated through the Chamber and sold throughout the town?
  • In a town with strong historic flavor, everyone in town costumed during the month of December?
  • Santa and his sleigh available downtown during evening shopping hours and on the weekend?

2. Once your Chamber Board has decided what you’re going to be doing for the Holiday Season, get all the information on your web site.Make a “You’re Invited to come Home for the Holidays” page on your web with:

  • A schedule of events. W
  • Wonderful images – put out a town-wide call for compelling photos for this.
  • Links to your lodging page.
  • Links to businesses offering special Christmas packages.
  • Information about purchasing your town-wide gift certificate. I’d suggest you set up a secure site for purchasing this online. It’s easy to do through Paypal if you don’t have an e-commerce site already.

3. Get information out to regional media.

  • Look for regionally produced monthly publications including parenting magazines. Their deadlines for the November issues will be in October!
  • Write your public service announcements for radio and television now and get them off in October for November and November for December.
  • Check submission deadlines for all regional print calendars of events. Create a submission schedule for each of your Christmas events. It can get confusing without this, with each publication having a different schedule.
  • Write a compelling press release about your town’s Christmas plans and send to editors of regional newspapers.

For Businesses:

1. As a retail business you have already planned and ordered much of your Christmas stock.

  • With the economy still troubled, consider getting your Christmas gift stock out early. A layaway program may supercharge your Christmas sales.
  • Work with neighbor stores and your Chamber of Commerce to plan a town-wide roll-out of Christmas decorations. This can include Santa coming to town, refreshments in stores and Christmas music. Doing it together gives your Chamber the opportunity to do significant marketing around this event.

2. For non-retail businesses, create a gift package for your lodging, recreation, dining or other non-retail business with nice gift certificates.

  • Market this through your web site with an online purchasing option – check out Paypal if you don’t have an e-commerce site.
  • Send a newsletter encouraging your satisfied customers to give “you” for Christmas.
  • Include your business in the town-wide gift certificate program if your Chamber decides to create this – in fact, encourage them to do it.
  • Get information out early about your package. Economic hard times means that people will be shopping carefully, planning early and purchasing late. Consider a layaway program for your package to get people to commit early.

Small towns and their locally owned businesses give Christmas shoppers an opportunity for a slower-paced, personalized, nostalgic shopping experience. That is what small towns have to promote as they plan, market and carry out their Christmas schedule.

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