8 Clever Thanksgiving Promotions for Small Business

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Thanksgiving Promotions Small Business

Thanksgiving is about more than turkey and family and watching the Detroit Lions lose. It’s about getting your hair cut and your car fixed and your clothes cleaned and finding somewhere to eat turkey and watch the Lions lose other than with your family. That’s why small businesses are around, to give people the options they need to get those things done quickly before the holidays.

Thanksgiving promotions are pretty much required if you run a small business, but you want to stand out. And here’s eight great ideas that will keep your business top of mind.

1. Do something for a different holiday

Sure, anybody can put some canned pumpkin filling on special and call it a “Thanksgiving Blowout.” But do you know anybody else who has a special for National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (November 15)? Or False Confession Day (November 21)? As long as you don’t get carried away with that second one and start telling customers you sold their credit card numbers to a Nigerian clearing house, you’ll be the first hit of the holiday season.

Other notable November dates:

    • 19 – Have a Bad Day Day 
    • 26 – Shopping Reminder Day 
    • 29 – Buy Nothing Day 
    • 30 – Stay at Home Because You Are Well Day

2. Have a not-so-happy holiday contest

Stuck splitting an air mattress with your morbidly obese teenage cousin who hasn’t started using deodorant when you stay at grandma’s for the holidays? Springhill Suites by Marriott feels your pain and told holiday travelers to make a video talking about the worst part of their holidays. Then, make a case for why they need free hotel rooms for a chance to win a free stay during their holiday vacation. And, while your business may not be able to offer quite THAT much, an auto shop might ask what the worst part of holiday road trips are, or a restaurant can ask customers to make videos about how bad their holiday food is. We don’t need to explain to you what a bar can do.

3. Host a scavenger hunt

Since hunting wild turkeys is, well, probably illegal within 100 miles of your business, hosting an ACTUAL turkey hunt may prove logistically difficult. However a fake turkey hunt with adorable cutout turkeys at each stop around several small businesses in your area will attract crowds to every location involved. Each can offer different promotions, or you all can chip in to buy Thanksgiving Dinner for the winner.

4. Send a pre-Thanksgiving thank you card

Once you start getting 15 holiday cards a day, the one from your dry cleaner just gets lost in the shuffle. Sad, but true. But if you can be the first kid on the block to mail one out – possibly even for Have a Bad Day Day – and include a small gift card for your or another local business -  people WILL remember. If cost is a consideration, limit the gift cards to your best customers. But make sure everybody who’s given you regular business over the past year is getting something.

5. Come to work in unusual outfits

This doesn’t mean wear orange velvet puffy shirts to your weekly sales meeting or anything. Make them Thanksgiving-themed, and not the usual pilgrim, Indian and turkey. Like, someone could dress up as cranberry sauce or a stranded traveler at DFW. Or a perpetually-fumbling Tony Romo. Especially if your employees deal directly with customers, give them an incentive to be creative and see who does the best.

6. Create a fun infographic

And it better be shaped like a turkey. Even if it’s not, dig up some fun facts like how Americans ate 736 million pounds of turkey last year, at an estimated cost of $857 million. Or maybe something more relevant to your business, like tying those turkey figures into pre-New Year’s resolution gym memberships. Then put that infographic on your social media channels and wait for viral Internet fame to come knocking at your door.

7. Have a week-long Black Friday sale

Black Friday is usually the domain of businesses large enough to employ security teams and a YouTube channel. Small Business Saturday is probably more your niche. But what’ll really get people excited is the chance to save ALL WEEK LONG. Mark-down Mondays? Two-fer Tuesdays? Come-keep-us-company-at-the-store-because-we’re-still-open Thursdays? Whatever you can imagine, your customers will buy into.

8. Create promotional items made of turkey

No, not just like giving away a turkey. But like a promotional flyer or coupon MADE of turkey. Like printable turkey jerky. Hey, if Patrick Bateman can do it, so can you.

Image courtesy of Tom Curtis/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Matt Meltzer is a professor of business communication at the University of Miami. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and holds a bachelors degree in business administration from UM, as well as a Masters of Mass Communication from the University of Florida.