Friday, November 17, 2017

3 Proven Ways to Make Money From a Business Conference

After taking a travel hiatus for the last few months, I'm back at it again. Within the next few weeks, I have two conferences on the books. First up, I have my biggest annual conference of the year next week, The Financial Blogger Conference (also known as FinCon).

Given that I am spending a lot of money to attend business events, it's only natural that I create a plan for getting a return on my investment. Because you see, not having a plan is the single biggest mistake most business owners make. Then they complain about not having made any money.

With that being said, here are x proven ways to make money from a business conference. I use these tips every year and always end up making a return on my investment.

What product/service are you trying to sell?

I'm a big fan of starting with the end in mind. That usually looks like figuring out what product or service you're currently working on selling and then creating a course of action.

In the past, I've attended this particular conference primarily to get writing clients. That means I was focusing on getting as much time with editors as I could. I also had a killer follow-up plan that I'd devised with my business manager. Spoiler alert:  It worked.

This year, I'm focusing on growing the digital marketing consulting portion of my business. More specifically, I'm looking for students for my six-week group coaching program.

So what does that mean for this year? First, I'm on a panel about how to convert a blog into a coaching business. Second, I have a team member coming with me so she can help find prospects. Third, we will have a system for collecting information from prospects in order to set up meetings with them.

Just a quick note that all networking etiquette rules still apply. I'm not there to shove anything down anyone's throat. I'm simply positioning myself as the expert through a speaking engagement, having conversations and setting up meetings.

What would be a waste of your time?

Here's a newsflash about conferences: You can't do everything.

Furthermore, as much as I love this particular conference, I know some things are a total waste of time for me. In my case, that looks like taking meetings with companies that want to pitch me their app in hopes that I'll write about it.

It's nothing personal. I'm just there to make money, not necessarily do you a favor. That's why this year I've opted out of taking any meetings like this so I can instead focus on my primary goal: finding students.

Now, if I happen to have a conversation with someone in the hallway that's a totally different story. I'm just not taking formal meetings for this particular purpose.

Who do you want to meet?

Growing your network is a huge part of growing a business. At the end of the day, who you know still plays a major part in business success. After all, % of business still comes from word of mouth and referrals.

And so your next quest becomes determining who you want to meet. Is it editors to get media attention? Is it influences for a marketing campaign? Is it people you admire?

Come up with a list, take it with you and make some connections.

Final Thoughts

If you're clear about your desired goals, making money from attending conferences becomes easy. The key is to determine what your main priority is and then make all of your decisions based on that.

Image Credit:Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

8 Things You Need to Survive a Long Day of Networking

So, you've signed up for a large scale summit, trade show, or networking event. Now what? If you're anything like me, packing for this trip starts the night before your flight. This ends up becoming a scramble to ensure you've packed all the necessities for your trip.

What are you going to wear? What shoes do you need? Will you be working out in the hotel gym? The list goes on. While you mainly just need to show up to the event, it's better to set yourself up for success. The less you have to worry about the day of, the better.

Here's my list of networking event must haves:

1. A portable phone charger

There's nothing worse than being cut off from the world simply because you didn't charge your phone. Need an Uber? Nope, can't do that with a dead phone. Want to check your email? No luck there either.

I was recently gifted a portable cell phone power bank and I love it. Honestly, I never knew how much I wanted one of these. It fully charges my phone multiple times, and it's actually a great icebreaker. So many people were looking to charge their phones in our group of acquaintances, and I got to know them a little better as we joked over who would hold the phone and charger, not wanting the other to disappear with their goods.


2. Business cards

You'll meet a ton of new people, and instead of trying to remember to connect online, handing out business cards is a quick and easy way to stay connected. It sounds obvious, but I stumble across numerous people who forgot theirs or have out-of-date information. If the event has ID scanners, those are a bonus.


3. Granola bars

A lot of these events have finger foods or snacks throughout the day, but when you're powering through eight hours of networking and learning, your stomach is probably going to start grumbling. I keep a granola bar or piece of fruit in my purse in case of an emergency.


4. Note taking supplies

I write down notes in my phone, but my assistant prefers to jot things down on a notepad. We all stay organized differently, so keep in mind your favorite way to remember important details and pack those items accordingly.


5. A lightweight tote bag

When I attend trade shows or speaking events, I almost always end up with an armful of goodies or promotional materials. These simply don't fit into my purse, and if you're a guy who isn't a fan of man bags, you might find yourself in the same situation.

I started packing an easy-to-fold canvas tote bag in my purse to whip out in the event that I have a lot to carry. It's a life safer, seriously. Even if you've only got a bottle of water, a few pamphlets, a map of the grounds, etc. it adds up, and we all need our hands free to snap a few pictures or check social media.


6. A name badge

My biggest pet peeve when it comes to networking events is not being able to easily distinguish who the attendees are. If you're given a name badge, please wear it.

You don't look any more cool than anyone else by not wearing it, and you're probably hurting your chances at networking with like-minded individuals because they have no idea who you are. I dislike hunting and pecking through a crowd of people to find the types with whom I'm most interested in connecting.


7. A refillable water bottle

You know what's worse than listening to a bad talk? Being the person in the crowd with an uncontrollable cough who has no water on hand and is disrupting the entire event.

Surprise, all eyes are on you! If only you had a water bottle, or -- even better-- a refillable water bottle so you can save yourself $3 every time you need to quench your thirst. Most large scale events are held at locations that have water fountains, and refills are free.


8. A casual outfit

If you're in a new area, take advantage of any free time you have on hand and explore the town. You may never be back, stop and have a bite to eat, soak up the scenery.

Once you've packed these items in your bag, and you're prepared for an exciting day remember to eat a healthy breakfast, stay hydrated, and set goals on who you'd like to meet and what you'd like to accomplish at the event. If you do all of these things, you'll be steps ahead of the other attendees and well on your way to a successful event.

 Image Credit:Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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How Startups Can Start Advertising

How should my start-up approach advertising? It’s a difficult and important question for start-ups. It’s difficult because, relative to established brands, start-ups do not have the luxuries of a dedicated strategist to plan the advertising or an agency to produce the advertising. It’s important because start-ups tend to operate with a narrower margin for error compared to established brands. If the advertising fails, they are more likely to not have the resources for a second effort. Indeed, the success of advertising for a startup might be the difference between gaining or losing momentum for their business.

The good news is that several strategic considerations can start to help start-ups get more from their advertising.

First, start-ups should ask themselves what the advertising must accomplish. It’s a common misperception, one I have heard even among people with established brands, to view advertising through the sole directive to increase sales. While the increase in sales in one objective of advertising—and one I value tremendously—advertising can support other important functions. For example, advertising can be used to grow awareness, create buzz, foster positive evaluations, or push consumers towards trial. Each of these outcomes can ultimately contribute to sales, but they represent a different focus that can impact how the advertising is developed and evaluated.

For example, some new product innovations have such a strong point of difference that, once people aware the product, consumers’ have an immediate desire for it. I have invested in several ideas on kick as soon as I became aware of the product; I did not need advertising to convince me of, or help me understand, the benefits. In such circumstances, the primary goal of advertising might simply be to make consumers aware the product exists and/or how to obtain it. In other situations, however, consumers might not understand what the product is or why it is desirable. For example, when Tivo first launched, some people had trouble relating to what it was and what it did. Here, attention did not appear sufficient, advertising needed to further educate, inform, and persuade the individual. One’s goals shifts what the creative execution has to accomplish.

Second, start-ups lack the same insights about consumers as established brands. Put simply, start-ups do not have a massive amount of data on the psycho graphics of their consumers. This can be a serious issue because it makes it difficult to know what to communicate in one’s advertising. However, savvy start-ups can address this concern in two ways.

First, even in the digital age, it is amazing how far a focus group can go in the service of insight. I have had former students of mine report that they learned the most from simply sitting down and chatting with a target; it’s a tool I’ve seen effectively used for small and large brands alike. Of course, the value of focus groups does not mean start-ups should not take full advantage of the digital age. In fact, this is where a second opportunity exists to obtain insights. Brands can use their advertising to test different strategies in a manner to help them learn about the consumer. Specifically, brands can vary their copy to understand the type of messages and appeals that are more effective. For example, if one has two competing ideas about what will be most effective, a clear means to answer this is to provide an empirical test of the executions. Indeed, small scale digital efforts focused on learning about the consumer can provide another benefit to advertising.

 Finally, while start-ups find themselves in a different place than established brands, some of the basics of sound brand building still apply. For example, when I work with entrepreneurs, I continue to stress the importance of a sound creative brief. This planning document, when drafted with care and competence, forces strategic thinking for a brand. It’s a situation, in my opinion, where size of the brand doesn’t matter. For example, my own creative brief forces me to think about issues related to insight and positioning. For start-ups, a creative brief can introduce struggle because they don’t always know how to compete. However, with this struggle comes an opportunity to address those deficits, such as insight. Moreover, for start-ups doing the creative strategy in house, the creative brief can help them acclimate to the dual roles of strategy and creative.

The decision to advertise by a start-up can be a big deal. And, whether that first step is a small social media effort or simple display advertising, the utility of that effort will be aided by the addition of strategic structure.

 Image Credit- Shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

7 Tips to Avoid Getting the Email Cold Shoulder

This is an excerpt of a recent email I received--and a good example of one that will get deleted in record time. As a venture investor in early stage startup companies, I receive a steady stream of email pitches like this every day.

Unfortunately, all of them get the deleted without a reply. There might be a nugget among the daily onslaught, but I have never seen a company come over the transom ("cold") that resulted in a great exit.

The only investment opportunities I'll consider reviewing come through referrals from founders, VCs, or trusted industry veterans. "Ok, great Chris," you're thinking. "I live in Boca Raton, Florida, and I don't know anyone in the venture business, or anyone in Silicon Valley. What am I supposed to do? How can I connect with you and avoid the delete key?"

I'm glad you asked. Here are suggested steps to help you rise above the noise, and make the right connections to get a proper referral:

 1. Connect to a connector.

It's easy to go to LinkedIn to see my connections and discover our common connections. If there are none, find someone who you can approach, send a request, and begin to build a relevant network.

You can also search outside LinkedIn. For example, you can follow me on Twitter and Angel List (and, of course,


2. Join an incubator or accelerator.

There are hundreds of accelerators across the country, in almost every town and major city. Most accelerators have a network of local investors and entrepreneurs, and some of those people will allow you to leverage their extended networks. Undoubtedly there will be a Silicon Valley connection within that network.


3. Research your target's interests.

Like everyone else, I have personal interests and social causes that I am actively involved in. I love to cycle, and I am drawn to people who are fitness focused. I also co-founded a non-profit called The Last Mile that has very strong touch points in the technology, philanthropy, and investment communities.


4. Send me something of value, article, introduction, etc.

When I invest in a company, there is a value exchange. I provide money and expertise for equity in your company.

You can start that value exchange long before I take a meeting with you. Find some information or article that might interest me, or some book recommendations. I'm always looking for interesting (and unusual) books.


5. Become a published domain expert.

There are many platforms upon which you can express your opinions or provide information that is relevant to your domain focus. Anyone can create a Medium account and share their writing on social media. You can answer (and ask) questions on Quora, and you can do the same on Whale (one of my portfolio companies).

Find an outlet and be consistent.


6. Show up at meet-ups and conferences.

Network, network, network. Find local meet-ups that cater to entrepreneurs, your domain, or your hobby. You need to dedicate time to meet people and share your ideas.

Networking is easy for some, and difficult for others. If it's difficult for you, find a "wing person" who can help generate conversations, and make you more comfortable in these situations.


7. Take a trip to Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley is still the center of the innovation universe, and visiting here will expose you to driven entrepreneurs, in the most competitive market in the world. You never know who you'll bump into in a coffee shop, restaurant, or at a local event. If you can't get to Silicon Valley, go to New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Boulder, or any other innovation hub and start networking.

So, please don't make me hit delete. Try a few of these tips, and see if they lead to green.

Seriously, I look forward to hearing from you through someone in my network--and if I do, I'll gladly take a meeting. Good luck and happy networking.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Don't Let These 2 Myths Block Your Email Marketing Success

For entrepreneurs who use email marketing, getting your messages into the inbox is critical. But some common misconceptions about email marketing reveal that the real challenge isn’t about getting in the inbox at all. The secret -- if you want to call it that -- is creating email content that people actually want to read. It’s that simple.

Below are the two biggest myths about email marketing. By shifting the focus to sharing content that receivers won’t think twice about opening, we’ll squash each myth once and for all.


Myth 1: Everyone wants my email marketing content.

We like to think our content is what everyone wants, but that’s just not the reality. Just like this very article you’re reading, not everyone will find it irresistible, and not everyone will think it’s valuable to them. Newsflash -- some people can live without your marketing emails. That’s ok. Your objective is to please those who can’t live without it, and find more people like them.

Here's a tip. Really take the time to get to know your audience. Survey them, and ask for feedback on a regular, but not annoying, basis. Find out what challenges they’re facing, or ask them what product features or new service offerings would be beneficial to them. The more you know what your audience wants, the more you can deliver it to them.

Myth 2: My marketing emails aren’t showing up in my subscribers’ inboxes.

It’s not that emails aren’t getting through or that they’re not showing up. The question is where are they showing up? Inbox filtering -- common with Gmail and other popular email services -- may cause your marketing and promotional emails to get auto-filtered into a "Promotions" or "Social” folder.

Consider this. You have to have personal engagement to show up in a reader’s primary inbox instead of being placed into one of the filtered folders. Engagement for email marketing is slightly different than person-to-person emails where the focus is mostly on interpersonal conversations. The difference with email marketing is that the goal is to get groups of people -- your email subscribers -- to engage by clicking on the embedded links that takes them to more of your content found on your website, blog or social channels. You can even give them a chance to respond to questions or customer surveys you’ve built into your marketing campaigns.

The more content you send that subscribers want to open -- and the more you provide ample opportunity for them to click through to even more needful information, feedback and promotional deals -- the more times you’ll bypass the pesky filtering mechanisms.

Marketing Is Better Than Social Media Marketing

Bonus tip.

High engagement from your email audience also helps build a strong reputation with email services. “As your audience opens more of your emails and engages with the content, it sends a signal to the Gmails of the world that you’re sending content that they actually want,” says Tom Kulzer, the CEO of A Weber, an email marketing provider. “This type of reputation-building is crucial if you want to get your emails delivered to the primary inbox."

Kulzer also recommends exploring the topic of reputation building before getting started with an email marketing service provider. “When considering a provider, you need to make sure they have solid reputation management systems in place. Here are five key questions to ask. If not, it doesn’t matter how awesome your content is, it has higher potential of not getting delivered to the primary inbox as you would expect or hope.”

There you have it. The top two email marketing myths put to rest simply by having awesome email content that builds quality reputation. As email marketing continues to be the highest ROI marketing channel for your growing business, don’t let these myths stand in the way of your success.

Image Credit-Xerxes | Getty images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
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Holiday Marketing Prep: 8 Tips for Email And Social Media

 Let’s be honest: small businesses have a lot of competition during the holiday season.

For the “big guys”, waiting for the end of November is fine. They can unleash an onslaught of commercials, billboards, radio jingles, newspaper flyers, magazine spreads, and big money sponsorship for those holiday TV movies we’ve all seen 10,000 times—and it works—every year.

But for small businesses, success around the holidays means getting customers ready early, even when they may be reluctant to do so.

You may not have a million dollar TV budget or Grammy-worthy holiday jingles to do it, but you do have the power of social media and email marketing.

Here are eight tips for using email and social media to help you stand out from the “big guys.”

1. Develop a schedule to help build holiday momentum

Momentum will be crucial in determining whether or not this year’s holiday season will be one worth celebrating for your business. But you can’t build momentum around your business unless you have a plan for how you’re going to do it.

One way to start is by creating a schedule. The schedule should map out the weeks and months leading up and through the holiday season with specific goals for each of the big days. The specific holidays you plan to target may vary based on your business and your customer base, but all businesses should be aware of the four biggest shopping and giving days of the holiday season:

    Black Friday – November 24
    Small Business Saturday – November 25
    Cyber Monday – November 27
    Giving Tuesday – November 28

2. Pay attention to what your fans, followers, and readers really want this year

If you want your business to be part of your customers’ holiday plans this season, you’re going to need to deliver content they actually care about.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Shouldn’t I always deliver content my fans and readers care about?”

The answer is “yes.” But this is especially important during the holidays when your customers are not only busy but are also bombarded by content from other businesses fighting for their attention.

Consider using a survey to collect customer feedback in the fall, before the holiday craze has started. You can send your survey to all of your email subscribers or post it on your Facebook Page and ask your fans what they are most interested in receiving from your business this holiday season.

Use that customer feedback to not only improve the content you’re sending out but to also better target your messages by segmenting your email contact list. When segmenting your list, you should also look at other information that’s available to you like: open and click through rates, purchasing behaviors, and the preferences people chose when signing up for your newsletter.

3. Be a resource, not just a sales pitch

One of the main reasons people are typically reluctant to shift their focus to the holidays is they are not always eager to start thinking about the less than celebratory work that goes into them. While the holidays are—without a doubt—a time for celebration and giving thanks, they are also a time of great stress for a lot of your customers.

Don’t add to that stress by overwhelming them with salesly content and aggressive promotion; instead, provide them with something they can actually use this holiday season. It can be something as simple as advice for preparing their shopping list, tips for throwing a dinner party, or even a special coupon for subscribers only.

You can also post tips on Facebook or share articles on Twitter. If your business uses Pinterest, consider creating boards to give your followers inspiration leading up to the holiday season.

This year, start your holiday promotion by helping your customers; they’ll remember it when it comes time to buy.

4. Don’t try to do too much, too soon

One of the biggest questions we get from small businesses (at all times of the year) is how often should they post on social media or send emails to their subscribers. This is an especially important question when we’re talking about how to get your customers ready for the holiday season.

The fact is, most of your customers aren’t going to be ready to start thinking about the holidays until it starts feeling like summer is officially over. Don’t overwhelm them by flooding their inbox and news feed with holiday promotions.

When creating your schedule, pay attention to how much holiday content you’re planning to post. Make sure you’re giving your customers the chance to ease into it, rather than trying to force them to get in the spirit. It can be helpful to think of things in terms of percentages—for example: in September, post 20% holiday content, in October, 30% holiday content, and in November, 50% holiday content.

 5. Give them what they signed up for: exclusive content

Your customers didn’t become fans, followers, or readers of your email just because they love your products or services. For many of them, it was to receive exclusive content and special promotions from your business.

Telling your readers and fans about upcoming holiday promotions or giving them a sneak peek at new seasonal products is the best way to build holiday excitement and give them the exclusive content they want.

 6. Make the holidays an event

You don’t have to wait for the big shopping days, or even the official day of the holiday, to give your customers a reason to celebrate this season. In fact, planning an event earlier in the season—before your customers’ schedules get filled with work parties and family gatherings—is a great way to get your customers in the holiday state-of-mind.

It’s also a great opportunity to help make a difference this holiday season, by partnering with a local nonprofit and doing some fundraising for a cause that’s important to you as a business owner.

You can also use your event as a way of collecting valuable email contacts before the holiday season by using online event registration.

 7. Remember what works during the other seasons

It’s important to remember that not everything changes during the holiday season. The best practices and strategies you use in your email marketing and social media throughout the year will not only still be effective in November and December, but they will help you engage your customers in September and October and get them ready for the holiday push.

Using rich media, like photos and videos, for example, is a great way to start building that excitement. Think about the types of things we’ve already talked about: providing exclusive content, being a resource, not being too promotional—photos are a great way to accomplish all of these things. Post pictures from past holidays or give a sneak peek at new products, and then ask your fans to comment, like, or share.

If you haven’t used videos in the past, or even if you have, think about shooting a short video every couple of weeks or once a month leading into the holiday season. Something as simple as a video on your smartphone can give you the chance to tell your fans what you’re working on for the fall and what you have coming up for the holidays.

 8. Be authentic

One of the biggest reasons people choose to shop with small businesses, throughout the year and during the holiday season, is the personal connection they’re able to provide.

While your bigger competitors will have to rely on fictional stories—and inauthentic holiday moments to connect with customers in the months leading up to the holidays—you have the ability to offer the real thing and can use your own experiences to make that special connection.

Take Sue Bedell of Second Bloom Design. Last November she decided to give her monthly newsletter a more personal touch by sharing an anecdote from her own family’s holiday traditions. It not only let her better connect with her customers, but resulted in one of the biggest sales of the holiday season.

Do you have personal experiences your customers will enjoy or stories from past holiday promotions that will get them excited for what you have planned this year? Use them to create a personal connection your customers will love and to generate buzz around this year’s big season.

Put your best practices into action this holiday season

Chances are you’re probably already doing most of the things you’ll need to do when it comes time to get your customers ready for the holiday season.

Creating a schedule, being a resource, using rich media, or providing a personal connection are all things that have helped you build your social communities and drive real results from your email marketing.

Now all you need to do is … put them into action!

Don't have a Constant Contact email marketing account? Get started today for free!


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, November 3, 2017

30 Creative Ideas for Your Holiday Email Marketing

Do you know what emails you’re sending your subscribers this holiday season?

Whether you want to drive online sales, boost year-end donations, or get shoppers into your store this holiday season, email marketing can help.

Start with the perfect holiday email template. Then, customize your message to show off your unique products, services, or mission.

Need some help getting started? Check out these 30 creative holiday email ideas from other small business owners:

(Not a Constant Contact customer? Try us out for free! Start your free 60-day trial to see how these ideas can work for you.)

1. Holiday preview sale

Give your audience the chance to beat the holiday rush — bring people into your store early with a holiday preview sale! You can encourage current customers to bring their friends, and even offer additional discounts to them for helping you spread the word about the event.

La Provence, Rockport, Massachusetts

Bonus tip: When hosting a sale early in the season, make sure to offer a convenient way for new customers to sign up for your email list. Let them know you’ll be following up with more updates about holiday offers later in the season.

2. Cyber Monday offer

If there’s an e-commerce side to your business, make sure to participate in the annual online shopping event, Cyber Monday. You can send a series of emails leading up to Cyber Monday letting people know about special discounts, and send a final reminder when the big day finally arrives.

This year, Cyber Monday takes place on November 27th.

Schaller Gallery, Saint Joseph, Michigan

3. Free shipping

There are many small things you can do to add value this holiday season. One of the easiest ways to add value is to offer free shipping leading up to the December holidays. You can encourage people to shop online or provide details so that customers can call to place an order.

William Roam, Indianapolis, Indiana

4. Gift card bonus

In addition to traditional discounts, you can also look for ways to reward people for shopping small by adding a bonus prize, like a gift card or gift certificate.

Offering a gift card as a bonus can increase sales during the holiday season, and can also help introduce you to new customers in the process.

Prezo Grille & Bar, Milford, Massachusetts

5. Holiday gift guide
Help your customers find the perfect gift with a holiday gift guide.

You can send a general mailing to your entire list, or create separate lists for different audiences and come up with different gift ideas for all of your different audiences (gifts for moms, gifts for your husband, gifts for your grandkids, etc).

No Rest for Bridget, Irvine, California

6. Holiday coupon

Coupons can be used in a variety of different ways throughout the holiday season. You can use them as the focus of your email, or add a coupon to your regularly scheduled email newsletter as an extra bonus for your readers.

Inn at Seaside, Seaside Oregon

7. Sample sale

Showcase some of the different products you offer with a holiday sample sale. For a business like Sugaree’s Bakery, a sample sale lets customers experience their different recipes and share with holiday guests.

Think of ways you can let people sample your products and services this holiday season.

Sugaree’s Bakery, New Albany, Mississippi

8. End-of-year update

One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays is to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished in the previous year. As a small business, you share a special connection with your customers and they’ll be happy to hear about all of your success.

Use the holidays to say thanks to your loyal customers and give them something to look forward to in the New Year.

SAME Café, Denver, Colorado

9. Extended holiday hours

Keep customers up-to-date about any changes in your schedule throughout the holiday season. Customers will be thankful for the reminder, and will be more likely to fit you into their holiday shopping plans.

10. Early pricing

A successful holiday season can help you end the year on a positive note, and can also set you up for success in the New Year.

Start your holiday season early by offering fall discount — like Halloween specials.

All Backyard Fun, Boulder, Colorado

11. Naughty or Nice

With so many businesses vying for your customers’ attention during the holidays, you’ll need to come up with creative ideas to get your emails noticed. Boston-based burrito restaurant Boloco, uses humor to make a lasting impression, while also promoting their holiday special.

Boloco, Boston, Massachusetts

12. Say thanks

What is your business thankful for? The holidays are a great time to let people know that you appreciate their support. Saying thanks can humanize your business and help build the trust you need to build customer relationships.

Property Minder, San Jose, California

13. Holiday announcement

A successful holiday email promotional plan will include a mix of announcements, reminders, and thank you emails.

Think about the big things you’re promoting this season. For some businesses it may be an annual holiday sale or event, or it could be a new line of products for the holidays.

You can use a holiday announcement to get the word out early and start the season off on the right foot.

Door County Coffee Door County, Wisconsin

14. Holiday video

Add some personality to your holiday emails with a special holiday video.

You can use video to go behind the scenes and let people know how you’re preparing for the holiday season. You can also showcase your employees or just use the video to say thanks for a great year.

Artists for Humanity, Boston, Massachusetts

15. Tie in social media

Offer people multiple ways to connect with you this holiday season.

In addition to traditional methods like phone or email, you can also encourage people to connect with you on social media.

The Basketry, Luling, Louisiana

16. Black Friday offer

Black Friday isn’t just for the big-name retailers. As a small business, you can create a special Black Friday offer and take advantage of the rush around the holiday shopping weekend.

This year Black Friday takes place on November 24, 2017!

Mother Earth Pillows, Arnold, Missouri

17. Look ahead to the New Year

If you don’t have a lot going on during the holidays but have big plans for 2018, you can use the holidays to promote your upcoming activities. Use online registration to make it easy for people to sign up in advance.

extendYoga, North Bethesda, Maryland

18. Last minute reminders

Don’t forget to factor your last-minute email reminders into your holiday planning. You can come up with a list of last-minute gift ideas and promote them in the days leading up to the December holidays. Or help customers find last-minute decorations for their holiday parties.

Taza Chocolate, Somerville, Massachusetts

19. Gift certificates

Don’t forget to offer gift certificates as a gift idea this holiday season. This can be especially effective later in the season when people are looking to pick up last-minute gifts.

Rejuvenate Therapeutic Massage, Geronimo, Texas

20. Celebrate your success

Were there certain projects or achievements that really stood out for your business in 2017?

Make your email subscribers feel appreciated and include them in your celebration.

Davidson & Company, LLP Vancouver, British Columbia

21. Holiday event

Hosting a holiday party is the perfect way to thank employees and customers for their continued support all year long. After all, they are the backbone of your business and you want them to know just how much you care.

Wekiva Falls RV Resort, Wekiva Falls, Florida

22. Gift packages

Put a holiday wrapping around some of your products and services to create special gift packages.

You can create packages that are unique to your different audiences, and add value without adding a discount.

Treetop Yoga Studio, Gloucester, Massachusetts

23. Small Business Saturday

Plan a special offer for “early bird” shoppers and promote it to your email list. Here’s an example of how 3 Kittens Needle Arts promotes Small Business Saturday shopping to their subscribers.

3 Kittens Needle Arts, Mendota Heights, Minnesota

24. Share a story

The holidays are a great time to make a more personal connection with the people who support your business. Share a story about how your family celebrates the holidays.

Adding a personal touch to their holiday newsletter resulted in Second Bloom Design’s biggest order of the holiday season.

Second Bloom Design, Dorchester, Ontario

25. Shipping deadlines

People need all the help they can get when it comes to keeping track of important dates and deadlines during the holiday season. Email is one of the most reliable tools you can use to notify your audience about any important deadlines.

Taza Chocolate, Somerville, Massachusetts

26. Affordable gift ideas

Help people find the perfect gift on a budget with an email that shows off some of your affordable gift ideas. This is a great way to bring people into your store so that you can show off all the other great products you have to offer.

Arlington Promotional Products, Arlington, Virginia

27. Local gift ideas

There are a number of benefits of shopping small during the holiday season. Use these benefits to your advantage. Show off the personal touch your business offers, and encourage people to “beat the crowds” by shopping small.

Door County Coffee Door County, Wisconsin

28. Photo contest

Contests are a great way to celebrate the holidays with your biggest fans. Boston-based burger restaurant Tasty Burger, created a fun “12 Days of Ugly Sweater” contest, and encouraged people to share their best photos on social media. This is a great way to engage your audience and have some fun during this busy time of year.

Tasty Burger
, Boston, Massachusetts

29. Fundraising campaign

Celebrate the “Season of Giving” by supporting one of your favorite organizations. You can donate a portion of your sales, or come up with different ways that encourage people to interact with your business and donate.

Baltimore Humane Society, Baltimore, Maryland

30. Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a national day of giving, following the busy holiday shopping weekend.

This year, Giving Tuesday is on November 28!

If you’re a nonprofit, you can take advantage of this important day by running a fundraising campaign.

Gorilla Doctors, Davis, California

Turn these ideas into action!

Constant Contact’s email templates make it easy to get your email marketing done — fast. Our customizable templates for the major holidays like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and #GivingTuesday save you time and make you look good in any inbox.

Try our templates out for free! Start your free 60-day trial today!

Already a Constant Contact customer? Log in now to create your holiday email now.



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