The Resilient Retail Game Plan Episode 15

My Guide To Christmas Promotions

Podcast show notes

My Guide To Christmas Promotions

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the hectic run-up to Christmas. As the winter months run away with us, it can sometimes feel like you’re constantly on the back foot trying to put an ad-hoc Xmas strategy together, and that was before you had a global pandemic and a national lockdown to contend with.

So, in episode 15 of The Resilient Retail Game Plan, I want to go through a couple of points that will help you set some plans into action. We’ll look at how you can keep your customer base engaged through a cycling variety of messaging that best showcases your products; how you can identify and leverage buying habits to your promotional advantage; and we’ll discuss the importance of timing and targeting discounts to help shift sales and seasonal stock.

Looking for specific ideas for Black Friday? Find my Black Friday Marketing Tips For Small Businesses blog right here.

You’ve packed the Halloween decorations away and the distance jingle of bells are here – Christmas. I want to talk about Christmas promotions. When I worked for big retailers – they would have planned their festive promotions months in advance and around now their focus would turn to executing those plans.

I know for a lot of small business owners planning promotions can feel more ad hoc – right the way up into Christmas. For some it can feel like you’re constantly on the backfoot or trying to figure out the best way to put together your promotional strategy. You can start to feel overwhelmed – if this sounds familiar then read on!

Here are my thoughts on how to put together a strategy that gives you a variety of different messages to talk to your customers about and helps you feel in control. So that instead of arriving in December and feeling completely overwhelmed, you have got a plan of what your messaging is going to be each week.

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Capture your ideas

The first thing to do is make a cuppa, take 10 minutes – sit down with a piece of paper and a pen then brainstorm all of the different Christmas related activity that you might like to do over the next couple of months.

Think about what promotional messaging you’d like to focus on and why.

Promotions are not always discounts – they’re often not the same as a sale or a discount. Although it may incorporate discounts as part of your message. Your promotional messages are the main topics that you’re going to be communicating to your customers at any one time.

Stuck for ideas?

Here are a few to get you started:

  • You could do a promotion or messaging sequence about the launch of your Christmas products.

  • You could put together a gift guide that pulls in other independent businesses or maybe it just cycles through all of your products, explaining the different people that you could be buying for.

  • You could put together a gift guide for Secret Santa and/or stocking filler.

  • You could put a free shipping or shipping upgrade offer – overnight shipping instead of standard for example.

  • You could put out messages which are all about the cut off dates for last orders in time for Christmas.

  • You can have an offer which is a gift with purchase.

  • There could also be a charity offer so where you’ve got a percentage of profits going to your chosen charity for a certain time.

  • You can have buy one get one free offers and multiply and elaborative offers are really popular as well. There might be other small businesses that you could work with to pull together to create and promote a joint offer.

Those are just a few ideas. And I’m sure that you’ll have lots of others as well.

Map it out

Once you have your hit list of promotions you can start mapping out that activity. When you’re planning the messaging cycle think about what your customer will be thinking about at that particular time – as we move through the Christmas period, it changes. It might start with the bigger gift purchases and Christmas cards and end with the last-minute stocking fillers and wrapping paper.

You want to avoid bombarding your customers in one week with multiple messages, and then have a quiet week with no message in it. Map your top 8-10 messages so they make sense and flows logically through the season.

Once you have that then work through your different marketing communication methods – if you have an email that goes out at a certain time, or you write blog posts then make sure they work with your promotional messaging – they need to be part of your planned activity.


Something I get asked about a huge amount in the run up to Christmas and specifically around Black Friday is discounting.

If you are going to offer a discount – plan it out and think strategically, for example don’t offer the same discount repeatedly. I often say that discounts are like spices, a little goes a long way – so plan if it’s going to be a blanket 15% off or a multi buy.

A blanket discount is good for pushing your overall sales so maybe save that for around Black Friday/Small Business Saturday and stick to a short period – remember blanket discounts mean your best sellers -the ones you’d sell anyway – will get snapped up, so think about your stock levels too.

Another option is a targeted discount on products you don’t want hanging around after 25th December – your ‘brown bananas’. You could discount 30% off those particular products – remember they are also the products you’re likely to put in a Boxing Day sale so you’d have to increase the discount for then. Plan out your discounts and make sure they work for you and your business.

Once you have all of this you can get ahead and start producing a bank of graphics with all the messaging – ready for your emails, social media posts, banners for your website.

If you produce your promotion hit list, plan out your messaging activity, tie it in with your marketing communications and produce a bank of graphics now – when you hit December you will be so prepared for what is your busiest time of the year.

One last thought to share – this Christmas will be like no other for product businesses – with that in mind make sure you plan in messaging about delivery and last order dates – with so many of us unlikely to travel to visit friends and family I predict customers posting many presents!

Find out more

If you enjoyed this post, why not get my Introduction to stock management?
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  • E-book – 101 things to think about when you’re scaling your business

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  • E-book – Complete guide to Stock management

  • Workshop replay – The Launch Lowdown masterclass with Elizabeth Stiles

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