5 Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Techniques

Retailers only have one week left of the holiday shopping season. And there are ways to capitalize on the last-minute shopping mayhem.

To help lure in more customers just before the holidays, there are several marketing techniques small- and medium-sized businesses in particular can utilize to compete against the bigger, more deep-pocketed big-box stores.

The Chamber of Commerce recommends a three-pronged strategy: 1) Make potential customers aware of your deals, discounts and deadlines. 2) Make these same customers aware that the clock is ticking. 3) Repeat.

Here are five other key marketing strategies retailers can use this holiday season:

No. 1: Make it easy for consumers to find holiday gift ideas on your Web site. The Small Business Administration, for example, suggests organizing your Web site by categories such as “Gifts under $50,” “Gifts for Him/Her,” “Popular Items.” Group and highlight inventory in emails or social media campaigns in a similar fashion.

No 2: Utilize effective mobile strategies. On Black Friday alone, 24% of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, while mobile sales represented more than 16% of all purchases, according to a survey by IBM.

“We know that’s going to be a trend that proliferates even” as the number of mobile devices grows, said Mark Reino, CEO of Merit Mile, a Boca Raton-Fla.-based marketing and PR firm.

No. 3: Go social. Small- and medium-sized businesses need to assess what is an effective use of social platforms like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

“Making sure you’re leveraging social channels in your local communities is hugely effective in terms of competing with the big guys in your categories,” Reino said. Wagner said Twitter, in particular, can help smaller businesses get the word out about their sales.

“Twitter is really a push message - it goes right out to the customers’ mobile phone and pops right up so it’s in the customer’s face,” she said. “I think that toward the end of the season, customers like that element of surprise they get from Twitter as well,” such as a Tweet announcing 25% off from a category of merchandise.

The SBA suggests building urgency in your email subject lines, Tweets and Facebook posts. For example, “There’s still time ...” or “It’s not too late!...”

No 4: Push the gift cards. The SBA recommends retailers reach out to those who are still looking for gift ideas in the few days just before Christmas, who have missed key shipping deadlines. That outreach should promote the idea of a gift card or downloadable e-gift card that can be cashed in at the store on a later date.

No 5: Drive customers into your store as much as possible. Use your e-mail and social media campaigns to remind people of in-store deals.

“The idea is, they get the customer into the store and the customer looks around and buys other things, and those other things are at regular markup,” Wagner said. “There’s a financial benefit to the retailer right there.”