Low budget Thanksgiving marketing ideas for small business owners

What a month November is for you, if you’re a small business owner! It all starts with Thanksgiving, then there’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday! That means five special marketing campaign possibilities, in pretty much the same number of days. It is a wonderful opportunity for small business owners and independent professionals to get more sales and new customers. It can also look like a crazy task. So we are trying to give you some very practical ideas you can apply immediately and successfully.  

How can you do something that will have a lasting impact for your clients? Is there something you can come up with that will impress your clientele, bringing you more business – and all of that, without having to break the bank and spend money on advertising campaigns?

As there are so many special days around Thanksgiving, some small business owners feel a bit overwhelmed. Without knowing which day to pick in order to do a special marketing campaign, they let Thanksgiving go by without doing anything out of the ordinary. 

It’s tempting to think, “Christmas is just around the corner and clients expect something special for the winter holidays.” While that is absolutely true, the potential of Thanksgiving should not leave any business owner indifferent. 

How should you compete with the big chains offering all the crazy discounts, when you’re a small business owner trying to make means for your family? 

Bothering to do something extra special requires time, effort and a marketing budget. And it may not seem very rewarding towards the end of another busy year. But you should not fall into that non-marketing-thinking-trap. 

Small businesses are important for every country’s economy. The added value you’re bringing to the table, when you’re being so friendly and personal to your clients, while offering a very professional service, is of great value! 

As you count your blessings this Thanksgiving, here are some marketing ideas you can apply in order to make this Thanksgiving season the best one so far. By the way, if you’re reading this and you’ve already invested your marketing budget during the year, you’re probably a little low on cash and you might think that setting a new “Thanksgiving campaign” is out of the question. 

If that is you, keep reading. This article is for you. There are some great marketing ideas and tactics you can implement for free in your business strategy. The goal is to present your business to your clients in a more appealing way this season. 

Ideas on how to make this Thanksgiving season more lucrative:

Thanksgiving Updated Social Media Business Accounts. Your business accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. should be “giving thanks” this month. 

You can update your social media by making some small adjustments like changing your profile picture, adding a Thanksgiving themed one. 

Should your new profile picture include a turkey or not? 🙂 Well, we’ll let you decide on that, but don’t stress too much about it. You can also add a fall related picture. If you’d like to edit your profile picture (or any other social media posts), remember you can use Canva. It’s one of the really cool free online editing tools. We’ve mentioned Canva in previous articles, and if you’ve already started using it, kudos to you!

If you’re wondering how does changing your profile picture can make any difference to your clients, you should know that it will serve as a simple reminder about your business. 

Reminders can work great. As your clients notice your new social media updates and they might say: “Now that’s a funny pumpkin meme on my hairstylist’s salon page. I definitely need to schedule my hair color soon. I hope she still has some availability before Thanksgiving” and you immediately get a phone call for a new appointment. 

Another client might think:  “Haha! My mechanic just added a big fat turkey on that pickup truck Facebook cover. I almost forgot we really needed him to check the car before the long drive to the in-laws for Thanksgiving”. So more appointments and clients line up! To keep up with them, don’t forget to use Appointfix app, so that your clients get their automated reminders about their appointments.

Before going to the next little marketing tip, if you don’t have a business social media account yet, well… then you know which would the first step be. Yes, you need a Social Media account. When? Yesterday. Why? Just to let clients know that you exist. Sorry for being blunt, but it’s really important to be out there “in their face”. Social Media can help you spread the word and get more clients on your door.

Thanksgiving Raffle/Contest. There are many raffle and contest ideas, the options being more or less complicated. You may not have time for too much brainstorming these days though. So what about collecting all your clients’ email addresses, asking them to throw them in a sealed raffle box. 

Then a couple of days before Thanksgiving you can randomly pick the winner. We love doing these contests at Appointfix. You can see some examples on our blog page. (This year for Valentine’s Day for example we offered a fancy dinner for two at a restaurant of their choice. It was a lot of fun and the winners were thrilled with their prize! They went to Spain and sent us pictures.)

You can think about ideas for prizes, including some free products or services your business offers. Or something totally unrelated to your business (as we did when offering a nice dinner for two). Clients love winning things. Especially when the effort to participate in the contest is minimum, like just writing down their email on a piece of paper. 

The idea with the email is a two way street. Your clients participate in a raffle for the prize, and then with their email address you have a good promotional tool in your hands. You will be able to write your clients about future campaigns or discounts, as well as congratulate them on their birthdays, wish them happy holidays, etc. 

Worth-Clicking Thanksgiving Email Titles. As you know, your clients receive a million emails with discounts, coupons and lots of promotions from the local mall, the shoe company, cosmetics businesses, etc. 

The challenge is to make your email visible among so many others that are competing for your client’s attention. That is why you should be putting in some effort into wording your campaign well. You want all your marketing communication to be attractive to your clients. 

Here are some ideas: “Thankful, grateful and blessed! 50% off this season” or “Got the turkey? 30% off for your Thanksgiving meal”. Or “Giving thanks! 40% off this weekend only”. 

If you’re a hairstylist you can take an approach that will bring you more business at the beginning of the year, when the number of client visits at the salon tend go down considerably. Offer a “20% off coupon for January. Grab it this weekend!” That can assure you a pool of clients when business gets slower after the holidays. 

Beauty industry professionals such as hairstylists, nail techs, lash artists, make up artists, etc. you can think about encouraging your clients to buy gift cards for their dear ones too with a promotion like: “30% off on gift cards for 2020, this weekend only!”

Adding an urgency and a time limit to your promotional message tends to work as a good hook. Your clients will open your email to read about the campaign. 

When sending the email campaign, aside from 1. Putting together a worth- clicking email title, you should also make sure the following are in place: 

2. Your email comes from your business address, a name your clients will immediately recognize. An email from the business name looks neat and professional (e.g. Butterfly Hair Salon). If you go by your personal name though, and that’s what your clients know best, then use it strategically for your business brand. In this situation, the email should be sent from “Julie Does Nails” instead of sending it from “Julie Johnson Stone”, a name your clients might have trouble identifying, as they only know your first name.  

3. The design of your email should be attractive and easy to read. Stay away from too many little tiny pictures jammed together, or a lot of text and long paragraphs. Something short and sweet does the trick. Add a nice picture too. More on this toward the end of this article. 

4. There must be a call to action at the end of your email. Your client needs to understand very well what you want them to do. Can they buy your product online on the spot to take advantage of the promotion? Should they visit your shop in person? Do they need to book an appointment immediately at the salon? The instructions must be precise and clear to follow.

Give Thanks With a Gift. Something small can have a big impact sometimes. Clients appreciate discounts a lot, but according to some research studies, they are more impressed with free gifts. 

That is why pairing a high end product or service with a free gift, is a great marketing technique. 

For hairstylists, if your client is there for a $200 balayage service, you could give them a free sample mini-bottle of Redken shampoo. It will enhance the color and make your client happy as those blonde highlights of theirs will shine “like diamonds in the sky” for a longer time. 😉 

Product Bundles. Think about the products or services you’re selling. There are those which sell really well and some that are rarely asked for, even if they are really great products. In order to do your business a favor, make some product bundles and theme them related to Thanksgiving. 

You might sell handmade jewelry. Mix and match three different items in a bundle, add a little turkey detail on one, call it the “Give Thanks Deal” and sell it to your clients as a Thanksgiving special. 

Be More Personal, Use Storytelling and Cater to Your Clients Video Mentality. Does that mean you should shoot a promotional video? Not necessarily, though it’s not a bad idea, if you have the means. What is important to keep in mind, is that your clients are very visual human beings and their attention span is quite limited. 

According to studies, the human brain processes images 60x faster than words and 92% of consumers want ads that feel like a story. More about it and how you can use Social Media to your advantage here.

Therefore, this recommendation is about encouraging you to use storytelling in order to build and grow your brand awareness. Thanksgiving is a great moment for it! You can be more personal with your clients, sharing about your family business and thanking them for their loyalty. 

We’ve done it last year, when we recorded a little  Thanksgiving video which we shared on Facebook. It can still be watched online here

Storytelling is fundamental for reaching clients and making a lasting impact. I’d like to end with an example of one of the best small business storytellings I’ve seen recently, as I was offered some delicious scottish shortbread which I’m enjoying right now with a nice cup of tea. 

Allens Scottish Shortbread is a family operated small business. What does it have to do with storytelling? Well, everything! All their shortbread boxes have an absolutely beautifully designed picture on the front, and a lovely story on the back. 

What’s special about their marketing is that it’s a real story, including all the family members, big and small. The family is creatively pictured as a family of bunnies, on each of their shortbread packages. There’s mom, dad and their three adorable little girls. The little box I have in front of me as I’m writing this article, has an adorable picture on the front and a beautiful story on the back, which explains the picture. The power of storytelling, my friends!

The story goes like this: “’Peace be still’ hushes like an anthem over the Allen Rabbits as they rest safely in their hole. The night sky bursts radiant with twinkling stars, and Mummy Rabbit puts down her letter to Grandma Rabbit to gaze at Baby Skye resting blithely in her arms. Samaria and Willow play so beautifully together in the window that Papa Allen finds a moment to catch up on the paper. The Harney and Sons Earl Grey Supreme Tea infused shortbread brought such contentment to this wee family, and will to you as well.” 

You can imagine the picture, even without seeing it, just by reading the story, right? That means great storytelling. Adding a wonderful picture too, is an excellent idea though. 

(By the way, at the end you can read their ingredients, and I love how the lists starts: “No artificially anything; 4 Wholesome Ingredients, Low sugar, Small Batch, Nut Free Facility”. My take is that the Allens Shortbread is absolutely delicious and not excessively sweet. If you’d like some for your Thanksgiving and Christmas family meals and fun moments, you can find them online or in some local stores. You’re welcome for the delicious tip!:)

So, does your business tell a story? If you haven’t thought about it yet, Thanksgiving is a great moment to start presenting your small business in a more attractive, personal, genuine and fabulous way. You can choose one or two of the tips above, focus on them, and please let us know how your Thanksgiving campaign worked.   

The best thing you can do as a small business owner this Thanksgiving, is to count your blessings as you step hard on the gas pedal of marketing communication. This way you can finish out the year with more green cash in the bank. 

Last but not least, this month we are grateful for you, our amazing clients and we’d like to say THANK YOU! So we invite you to stay tuned, as we’re having a great Black Friday Appointfix campaign coming up.

Gobble gobble, y’all! 🙂

Emilia is Marketing Director at Appointfix, an app helping professionals and small businesses easily schedule appointments and reduce client no-shows using automated text reminders. Feel free to drop her an email at emilia.pustan@appointfix.com.