While your thoughts inevitably tend to drift during this time of year (that forthcoming ski trip, reuniting with distanced relatives), the holidays can potentially serve as a prime time for attracting new customers, too, if you take advantage of smart marketing options. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers these suggestions:


  • Post Competitions on Social Media. Use your strong Facebook and Twitter following to remind customers (and potential customers) how incredible your business is. Highlight new brands you have in stock and focus on new cocktails you’ve added to the menu (or delicious pre-made holiday meals) when you introduce fun, money-saving contests for your customers (perhaps a free gift or discount for the customer who snaps the best Instagram pic of a recent shopping experience at your store). Be sure to utilize hashtags to your advantage so you can get the word out beyond your typical social media circle.


  • Reward your Regulars. Maybe it’s a free bottle of wine or a complimentary meal. Perhaps it’s a coupon to use over the holidays, or simply a gift-wrapped candle and a card. Acknowledgment that you recognize and value your regulars goes a long way—and may attract additional clients via word of mouth. 


  • Share Advice. This month, offer regular snippets of holiday-related advice on your blog and through social media that pertain to your industry. If you’re a restaurant owner, mention cooking suggestions, dietary advice and decorating ideas. If you’re a book store owner, post book reviews of incredible new (or old) fireside reads, or stocking stuffers. Play up your expertise level and use that to attract customers. Be sure to use an original hashtag that highlights your brand.


  • Host an Event. It doesn’t have to be big, but throw a holiday-themed soiree or shopping experience and invite your customers. Offer complimentary beverages and discounts for purchases made during the event.


  • Amp up Email Marketing. Keep your customers updated on the new arrivals you have at your store, special coupons and new decor through email marketing. Utilize holiday themes, keep messages short and to the point, and stay relevant.