10 Thanksgiving Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

It’s no secret that Thanksgiving is an exciting time of year, not only for families and loved ones, but also for small business marketing. People are starting their holiday shopping and Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are just around the corner. There are so many fun things small businesses can do to tap into the sentimentality of the season and use the Thanksgiving holiday as a way to boost business as well as their customer base.

Holiday marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all, but keeping with the spirit of giving, below are Thanksgiving marketing ideas that can apply to almost any business. Keep in mind, that while every idea may not be the right fit for your business, chances are good something on this list will resonate with your brand and target market. 

10 Thanksgiving Marketing Ideas to Try 

We’ve compiled a list of fun, effective, and community-driven marketing ideas that you can use this Thanksgiving to bring people together, but more importantly, bring people to your business. The key to any marketing strategy, but especially a Thanksgiving-themed one, is to make your customers feel connected to your business on more than a transactional level. These ideas will help you achieve just that.

1. Plan Ahead

You never want to be in a situation where you are coming up with time-sensitive marketing strategies on the fly, with mere days to spare before a holiday hits. Starting several weeks before Thanksgiving will have multiple benefits for your business.

For one, it will create intrigue with your customers. If you start early with teasers and sneak peeks of what’s to come, it will keep your current customers coming back to your website or social media for the latest updates, and will also draw in new customers who want to be a part of something cool as soon as it happens. No one likes being the last to know something.

Starting early will also plant the seed in a customer’s mind that you’re having a sale, launching a new product or service, hosting a giveaway, etc. and will give them time to prepare financially for that. When it gets closer to Thanksgiving, there will now be excitement and a sense of urgency coming from your customers because they’ve been anticipating the holiday specials for so long that they are chomping at the bit to start shopping.

2. Create Seasonal Content

The colors of fall evoke a host of good feelings, so reflecting them in your holiday marketing campaign will bring those positive feelings to your brand. There’s plenty of free resources out there for creating graphics and color themes, like Canva, and you can use them across all your social media channels, website, newsletter, blog, and more.

It also is nice to get into the habit of doing this for any small business holiday you want to celebrate. Then, you can even reuse them year-to-year, or give them a slight refresh. Either way, not having to start from scratch each year will save your business time and money.

Being specific with your Thanksgiving content also helps to connect your business with the holiday and with your customers. 

3. Update Your Website and Social Media

This seems like a really practical one, but you wouldn’t believe how many businesses don’t update their website, social media, and even Google with updated hours of operation and other vital holiday information. You should prep your online presence just like you would prep your actual business.

Some businesses are open more around Thanksgiving and some are open less, so it’s important to make sure your customers know when they can come and shop. Additionally, update your website to showcase any Thanksgiving events you’re putting on with specific times, dates, and any other information a customer on the hunt for Thanksgiving activities would need to know.

While a website can be more of a one-and-done update, it’s key to make sure you are promoting Thanksgiving content regularly in addition to your usual content. You don’t want to saturate your social media channels with purely Thanksgiving content, as that might alienate some customers, but alternating between regular and specialty content will boost awareness of your Thanksgiving plans while retaining your usual customer base.

4. Give Thanks to Your Customers 

Whether you are sharing nice reviews your business has received, photos that customers have posted showcasing them using and loving your products, or appreciating a service you have done for them, sharing user-generated content on your business’s social media accounts is not only a way to boost your company reputation, but also gives you a chance to show your customers how thankful you are for them.

Without customers, you wouldn’t be able to have a business at all, and valuing your customers and giving them special attention will endear them to your business. Plus, people love when businesses share their photos, as it helps them gain exposure and also lets them know that they aren’t just a number to you.

5. Offer Discounts for Email Signups

This is good practice at any time of year, but especially at Thanksgiving, which is the start of the holiday shopping season. Having a pop-up as soon as a customer heads to your website encouraging them to enter their email for special Thanksgiving (and subsequent holiday) alerts is a great way to build your email list as well as gain business.

Customers love discounts and if all it takes is entering their email address to get one, most will do just that. Then, once Thanksgiving is over, you can keep them around by offering additional discounts, updates, and promotions just for them. Using your new Thanksgiving color schemes or graphics in the pop-up and discount emails will also let them know that it is Thanksgiving specific and encourage them to come back to the store before the holiday is over.

If you are primarily an ecommerce business or a service-based business, this same idea can also apply to you. Have coupon codes to apply at checkout or at the time of booking an appointment, whichever applies the best to your operation. 

6. Decorate Your Store

Marketing ideas don’t have to just be online and through social media. The way you present your store and your specialty Thanksgiving items is also a form of marketing that some might overlook.

Stick to the traditional color scheme and make sure that it doesn’t contrast too much from the overall look of your store, or else it will create an environment that could be stressful for customers to stay in for a long period of time. You want the decor to enhance your store and merchandise, and give customers something new to look at to encourage them to stick around.

Think of what makes you go into a store and walk around leisurely and then use that as inspiration for Thanksgiving at your own store. But make sure that the decor is still in line with your overall brand so it doesn’t feel disingenuous. 

7. Host a Thanksgiving-Themed Giveaway

It’s no secret that people love free stuff, and since Thanksgiving is the time for, well, giving, what better way to honor that than with gifting customers with complimentary goods or services? The giveaway can basically work any way you want it to, but here are a few examples:

  • Have customers fill out a card with their information, place them in a bowl, select a winner at random to receive a gift or discount 
  • Have a photo contest on social media where people post what they’re thankful for, tag and follow your business, use a specific hashtag, and the winner will be chosen based on who gets the most likes
  • Host a drawing contest where customers will draw their favorite Thanksgiving image (turkeys, cornucopias, leaves, etc.), hang the drawings on the wall, and have customers who enter the store vote for their favorite

The goal of all of the ideas above, and the giveaway idea in general, is to engage your customers and the general audience of your niche and make them feel included in something fun and community-oriented, mixed in with a little friendly competition.

8. Collect for a Charity

The season for giving doesn’t have to directly be all about your business. Supporting local charities, or even worldwide, charities will show your customers that you care about giving back and not just about making yourself a buck. This goes a long way with customers who are growing more and more conscious about where they spend their money—and want the businesses they support to be just as socially conscious. You can collect things like money, clothes, canned goods, and toys, depending on the charity you choose.

You can promote the charity you’re contributing to on social media, as well as in your email newsletter to get the word out. This opens up doors for you to get creative with your posts and promotions and make it stand out. Having the donation box or homebase be in your store will get people in the door of your business and hopefully encourage them to shop around a little bit. Even if not, the good you’re doing for the community in which your business exists is reason enough.

If you don’t have a physical store, there’s still a way you can achieve this. Just like when you’re in a store and the cashier asks the customer if they would like to donate to the business’s charity of choice, you can also do that on your ecommerce platform, but you might be limited with the charities that allow for that method of donation.

9. Create a Sensory Experience

So much about Thanksgiving is about nostalgia. Whether it’s a pie baking in the oven, the turkey roasting all day, the clink of glasses as everyone says what they’re thankful for at dinner, and the musings of several different conversations, people want to soak that up as much as possible. The good news is, you can create that feeling in your business, and you don’t need to sell physical products to create a Thanksgiving experience for the senses. Much like decorating your store, you want to choose scents and sounds that don’t conflict with your store, but rather add to it.

Candles or essential oils are a great way to create that warming spice smell that people so often associate with pumpkin pie. It will envelop your customers in a familiar blanket of comfort, and who would want to leave that? Picking the right music is also huge. You want something that blends into the background so that your customers can still talk and shop in a relaxed state, but one that is enhanced with the familiar sounds of Thanksgiving. 

10. Attend Community Events or Fundraisers

Marketing your business is also marketing yourself. If there are community events going on with the goal of supporting the underprivileged in your community that you can show your face at and bring your employees to, current and potential customers alike will see that you aren’t afraid of getting your hands dirty, whether that’s literally or figuratively.

Unlike the charitable collection idea, this one gets you out of your store and on the streets with members of your community, some of which will know who you are, and some of which will learn about you in a very positive environment. Make sure to take photos of your employees and other locals to post to your social media to spread the word about the good that the business community is doing. 

The Bottom Line

There is no shortage of Thanksgiving marketing ideas—whether something you can apply directly to your store or a broader opportunity to do some good in your community, which will boost your business’s image by extension.

While Thanksgiving is a time for family and giving back, it’s also the start of the holiday shopping season, so make sure your business is prepared and you’re spreading the word to your customers.

Jennifer Post

Jennifer Post is a freelance writer who has covered business topics including marketing, franchising, cybersecurity, health insurance, and hiring and retaining employees. She has also written about various finance topics such as startup funding, business bank accounts, retirement plans, and health insurance. Jennifer has specialized experience in social media management and knows the ins and outs of marketing a business through most social media platforms.

After briefly studying law at Widener University’s Delaware Law School, she went on to continue her small business writing career using her new legal knowledge to create content helping small businesses understand legal matters such as taxes, hiring and firing practices, harassment, and other company culture matters. You can find her work on Business.com, Business News Daily, and How Stuff Works.

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