As the holidays approach, many local business owners are wondering how to boost sales as the pandemic rages on. Consumer confidence has taken a hit, and brands are fearful that the holiday sales season will be another major let-down.

“2020 has thrown the business community a few curve balls. One of the things we have learned is that businesses need to focus on their online visibility during this holiday season more than ever before if they are going to attract new customers or even retain their existing client base,” explains Christopher Amos of No Boundaries Marketing Group. No Boundaries Marketing Group specializes in simplifying marketing and advertising for small to medium sized businesses.

The key to a successful holiday season in 2020 may very well lie in marketing strategy. But where should local brands begin?

Amos offers this advice, “A combination of a high performing, aesthetically pleasing website, alongside a strong online presence is a must to survive this holiday season. It is all about keeping your business top of mind, meaning platforms like social media, email marketing, and SMS are going to have a larger importance this year compared to previous years.”

Here are a few more creative ideas.

Host a Social Media Contest

Social media contests are a good way to help local people enjoy some fun and get in the holiday spirit. Contests also help attract more followers and keep current ones engaged.

One option is to have a weekly story contest. Make up the first part of a themed holiday story. Ask followers to like the post, share it and comment with their suggestion for the next part of the story. Everyone can like the comment they think is best, and that will be the winning story portion for the week. Add the winning text to the next week’s post, and keep the cycle going.

Start this a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and keep the story going until Christmas. Whoever wins the last segment before Christmas wins a prize or discount.

A second option is to host a raffle for a product or service. Set ticket prices at a desired amount, and offer to give the raffle funds to a local hospital or charity.

Contests, giveaways and games are a fun way to boost holiday spirit, and keep your customer base engaged during a time when they’re ready to spend money.

Have Weekly Product or Service Demos on Zoom

According to CNBC, Zoom’s membership increased by more than 20% from 2019 to early 2020. With millions of people using it to keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues, it has become a little-known marketing tool for some local businesses.

One way to build hype and highlight attractive services or products before the holidays is to have engaging and fun demos via Zoom. Since some customers live alone and may feel lonely during the holiday season, they may also enjoy demos for a little encouraging interaction each week.

Start a Holiday Podcast

Podcasts are one way to attract more followers, keep people entertained and showcase products or services at the same time. A holiday podcast can even be structured as a variety hour.

For example, read a children’s holiday story at the beginning, and ask them to call in to share a holiday wish. Next, share some encouraging or uplifting news, such as a local shelter dog finding a home. Ask listeners to call in during a segment and share some of their favorite holiday memories. Take breaks between segments to talk about sales, new products or ways that listeners can use products or services for the holidays. For example, a party supply store can explain how to use certain products to wrap treats and make holiday baskets.

The key here is to provide entertainment and engagement for your audience, in order to stay top of mind, and to create a buzz around your brand online.

Since more businesses offer online, pickup and alternative services, a well-rounded SEO strategy is also essential to stay competitive during the holiday season.