The last days leading up to the holidays may seem like a lull, but don’t be fooled. A rush of last-minute shoppers will soon be hitting the stores in search of holiday gifts. Make sure they visit your business with these fashionably late, but absolutely fabulous marketing tips:

1. Create a gift guide

Since time is of the essence, make it easy for harried shoppers to find the perfect gift with a handy gift guide. Create an email, blog post, web page or print marketing piece with gift ideas for everyone on their list (including fur babies).

Need a great gift that’s under $25? In the following example, Pottery Barn makes it easy for shoppers to find gifts at just the right price:

2. Try social media contests and giveaways

Sponsoring a holiday-focused contest isn’t just a great way to grab customers’ attention; it also helps you stay on their radars. In just minutes, you can launch a holiday campaign that rewards the winner with a freebie or major discount for last-minute shopping. Multiday giveaways — in which you give out prizes every day for the 12 days of Christmas, the 8 days of Hanukkah, the 13 days of Halloween and the like — also get the best engagement on Facebook because people keep coming back to enter.

Other fun contest ideas include asking customers to comment on what they’re thankful for and encouraging them to submit a photo that depicts their favorite holiday tradition. For example, Canadian Pacific Railways challenges passengers on its CP Holiday Train to snap a photo that captures the spirit of the holiday season. One lucky person wins a trip for four aboard the CP Holiday Train as well as a $1,000 donation to their local food bank.

3. Offer free shipping

Looking for a powerful way to drive sales? Offer free shipping. In Deloitte’s annual holiday survey, 88 percent of respondents said free shipping was more important than getting their packages quickly. You can also participate in Free Shipping Day, a promotional holiday held in mid-December. To observe it, simply offer free shipping on all orders (with no minimum purchase) with a guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Let customers know you’ll be offering this perk by spreading the word on social media: #FreeShippingDay.

4. Include gift recommendations

When tweaking your site for the last-minute rush, don’t forget to include related product recommendations for your shoppers. For example, if a customer is searching for a pizza stone, add a pizza mitt or other related products. It’ll make the shopping experience more convenient for them and help you upsell and cross-sell products with ease.

In the example below, Timmy the ThinkGeek monkey recommends out of this world fashions to customers who bought the Twinkling Stars Skirt.

5. Give back and get business

Give people a great reason to shop at your establishment by letting them know that you’ll donate a percentage of each sale to charity. This is a great way to drum up sales from last-minute shoppers and help them contribute to their favorite causes.

6. Have a flash sale

Generate excitement and immediate attention with an impromptu sale. Whether you promote your sale with a banner and balloons or send a quick, clever email, use your creativity to make your flash sale stand out. Also, keep it credible by making sure your sale only lasts one day. uses clever photography and a festive Flash Sale banner to capture attention.

In the example below, Urban Accents uses clever photography and a frightfully nice Flash Sale to whet customers’ appetites for spices and seasonings.

And in this enticing email from Bath & Body Works, the leaves open up to reveal a 30 percent discount.

7. Give the gift of knowledge

Include a free booklet or eBook with tips on how to make the most of their purchases. If you sell knives, for example, you can include a booklet on how to carve fruit and vegetables. You can create a booklet request form on your website; after the holidays, you can print and send booklets only to those who have requested them — a well-targeted audience.

8. Promote gift cards

For time-crunched shoppers especially, gift cards are a popular and speedy choice. In fact, more than half of shoppers plan to buy gift cards this holiday season. So, promote gift cards in your store and online.

Put up signs next to the cash register. Send emails to let people know about your gift card selection. Use social media to remind folks why gift cards make the perfect gift.

To make gift cards an even more appealing option for shoppers, offer festive gift card boxes or a bonus. For example, Marcus Theater came up with a creative way to make shoppers hungry for gift cards — free snack cash.

9. Show your spirit

Get customers in a holiday frame of mind by decking the halls of your business with boughs of holly, spooky spider webs and the like. Revamp your window displays and in-store displays to market your seasonal wares. Offer mulled cider, hot chocolate or a tasty holiday treat that shoppers can nibble on while they search for the perfect gift. And don’t forget to spruce up your business’ social media page and website with festive photos of you and your staff, special holiday promotions and gift ideas.

10. Make shopping as easy as (pumpkin) pie

Customers are in a hurry to finish their shopping, so make it quick and easy for them. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you can arrange everything they need in one convenient spot: grab ‘n go gifts, greeting cards, gift tags, bags and a gift-wrapping service. Be sure to organize your online storefront, too.

Walgreens shows shoppers just how easy their last-minute shopping can be in the example below:

It’s never too late to dazzle last-minute shoppers with attention-getting marketing and irresistible deals. So, leave the sugar plum dreams to your competition and kick up your promotions for a merry, bright and profitable holiday season.

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© 2018, Bella Girardi. All rights reserved.

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