In a nutshell: Retailers will rack up billions of dollars in sales this holiday season. These marketing tips will help your business grab a slice of that pie.

It’s beginning to look a lot like … shopping!

The National Retail Federation says consumers are expected to spend an average of $967.13 this holiday season, up 3.4 percent from the same period a year ago. Small businesses might be at a disadvantage, as they usually don’t have the resources and the staff to compete with online giants and big box stores. Fortunately, you don’t need a massive budget to set yourself apart from the competition this time of year. Here are a handful of helpful holiday marketing tips.

Find Out What Makes You Different

You’re a small business. Turn that to your advantage! Make use of the special relationship you have with your customers so that you can build a marketing message that truly resonates with them this time of year. Remember, shoppers are going to be bombarded with promotional messages and you certainly want to stand out! Highlight the things that make you different. For some businesses, it might be a personal touch. For others, it could be a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

You know you’re special. Make sure your customers know it, too.

Get Social

While there’s a place for mailers and emails, social media is where your marketing message should live. That’s not just because social media is so customizable and responsive — it’s also because that’s where your customers are spending their time. Make sure you’re allocating enough money for social media during the holidays, and that you’ve done enough research to target your placements. Craft compelling tweets and posts that will do three things:

  • Set you apart from the competition (see above).
  • Generate authentic interest in your products and services.
  • Create an emotional connection with potential customers.

Keep your message short and sweet. Don’t forget a photo or video for each post or tweet, as the visual element will grab people’s attention much more than just text.

Be Creative — and Take Notes

Don’t be afraid to try something new this holiday season. Some ideas:

  • Create an activity table to keep children engaged.
  • Offer snacks to hungry customers.
  • Advertise somewhere you haven’t before.
  • Work out promotional deals with complementary (not competitive) small businesses.
  • Participate in a holiday market.
  • Offer free samples.
  • Host an open house for your most loyal customers.

These are just a few ideas — the list can be as long as your imagination (and your budget) allows. No matter what you do, measure the success rate so you know what to repeat the next holiday season. Also, you can replicate successful ideas for other major holidays, such as Mother’s Day and Halloween.

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