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Jen Phillips April

Jen Phillips April

6 Holiday Promotional Ideas to Drive Sales to Your Pet Business

It's here, the sprint toward the end of the year! That's right, believe it or not, the holiday season is nearly upon us and it is time to start planning. This holiday season, 94.2% of consumers are set to purchase a gift for their pet. This is a huge selling opportunity for an independent pet retailer like yourself. Besides stocking up on inventory and creating attractive displays, there’s another tactic you can use to attract customers during the holidays and throughout the year. Promotions. Should be easy enough right? Fortunately, everybody loves a sale, and this super simple idea appeals to new customers while also rewarding loyal ones. All you need to do is get creative with your promotions and help create a seasonal customer experience that will draw them into your store during these peak retail shopping months.

Marc Gingras, the CEO of Foko Retail said in Forbes, “Retailers will invest more resources in experiential shopping, with the understanding that the role of stores is shifting away from pure product distribution, to a much more experience-centric model.”

To create that experience Marc is talking about you have to make holiday promotions more personalized and interactive. Not only do promotions serve as an effective marketing tool but they also tap into the “experience” factor so critical to today's modern consumer. Creating an amazing customer experience is essential to success in today's retail market. Check out these ideas for holiday promotions that will create the ultimate shopping experience for customers visiting your store this holiday season. 

Santa Claus is Coming To Town

Photographers are always looking for new clients, just like retailers want new customers. Here’s how you can put this into practice. Tap into your network for a pet photographer interested in offering pet portraits for a few hours on a weekend and find a willing Santa or Santa Paws.

If you can't find a local photographer willing to do the job don't fret! With amazing cameras on smartphones you don't need a professional photographer. Just make sure the area you set Santa up in has good lighting (facing a window works well, not in front of a window) and let pet parents take the pictures themselves. During the times of Santa's visit offer a coupon on holiday items to encourage customers participating to shop.

Naturally 4 Paws Silverdale, WA in put a spin on the typical "Photos with Santa Claus" event and made Santa Claus into Santa Paws. They definitely stood out from their competitors with this Santa!  
Then, promote the event to your existing customers through email marketing and posting about it on social media. Post before, during, and after photos for maximum coverage. Try creating a hashtag for the event to use in your posts and encourage pet parents to do the same. Imagine if you get 100 or more social media mentions with #yourstorehashtag during the holiday season!

Spread the Spirit of Giving

The holidays create a spirit of giving, so why not offer an easy way for shoppers to celebrate that? Pick a cause or charity in your community to support and start collecting donations. You could pick a local animal shelter or a local food pantry. Simply decorate a box to hold donations and let shoppers know about it through signage, flyers, social media, and in-store by asking customers if they would like to donate at checkout.

Unleashed in New London, NH hosted a fundraiser to collect donations for local food pantries the schools in their community have. Their customers donated almost $500 dollars! 

Make this a community event and reach out to fellow small business owners you know and see if they would be willing to host a fundraiser in their business as well. Imagine if you had 3-4 different shops contributing to the fundraiser you started. That will really bring your community together for a worthy cause. You might even be able to get a local media mention out of it!

Offer 12 Days of Deals

Throughout the month of December host a "12 Days of Deals" promotion to get a wide variety of customers in your store. Every day can be a different theme and can appeal to a different type of customer. You could focus on puppies one day and cats the next. Whether it is $5 off every $50 purchase or a discount on dog training or dog grooming services, it’s a way to promote your services and products to a variety of customers. 

Woofs and Waves in Sioux Falls, SD used the iconic Elf on a Shelf to promote their 12 days of sales in their store.

Hopefully, by now your creative juices are flowing. Most of these promotion ideas require minimum set up and offer plenty of opportunities for visibility. Send an email to your customer list to let them know about the happenings, post about them on social media, and mention them to everyone who comes into the store.  

Get Gifted with Gift Boxes

A personalized touch you can offer in your store is to create simple pre-made gift boxes or bags for the holidays. Offering convenient pet gifts will appeal to the busy pet parent or friend of a pet parent looking for a gift to spoil their loved ones pets with. You can include toys, food samples, treats, and chews in the box. 

Twin Tails Market & Barkery in Palos Park, IL sold cookie boxes for pet parents to give to the pups in their lives.

If you really want to you can create specific bags for different types of pets such as large breed dogs, puppies, intense chewers, senior dogs, etc. Consider making these a little more holiday neutral so they are more inclusive to people who do not celebrate Christmas. Pop a coupon valid post holiday season in there to entice customers back into your store after the holidays.

Make Sales on Seasonal Items

Encourage movement of seasonal items by highlighting them as go-to gift ideas in your store. When merchandised and marketed correctly small seasonal items are a great way to build the basket and increase overall purchase value. You can create a gift idea display and pair it with a discount to encourage shoppers to buy. Try making sure this display is right by checkout or next to high traffic items to increase the likelihood of impulse buying.

Remember to consider everyone by making these a little more holiday neutral so they are more inclusive to people who do not celebrate Christmas like Bentley's Pet Stuff in Olathe, KS did with this post. 

Alternatively you can promote these items online through social media marketing and email marketing. Send out a promotional e-blast with a holiday gift guide and a coupon. Or post items on social media as the gift idea of the day. As always encourage customers to come to your store for their holiday needs and more.

Celebrate Small Business Saturday

Although on the retail side, the holiday season begins months in advance, for our customers their holiday shopping season usually doesn’t begin until Thanksgiving weekend. With the blow-out sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday it can be hard to stand out as an independent pet retailer. To compete with big box stores and celebrate small businesses, Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 and has since become a big contender.

Tailwaggers in Whitefish, MT put together these awesome goodie bags to give to customers on both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday when customers made a purchase over $50.

Small Business Saturday is a great way for you to kick off the holiday season. Offer special promotions and extra special goodies to get customers in your doors and show that you appreciate their support of local small businesses.

Get In the Holiday Spirit

The holidays will be here before you know it so start your marketing planning now to gain the competitive edge. When customers come into your store, they may be looking for stocking stuffers or a last-minute gift so make sure you have what they need and are ready to talk about it. Using promotions can help you draw in more customers during the holiday season and improve your sales. These promotional ideas are a great start to creating your holiday marketing strategy. Whether you implement every idea or just a couple they will be sure to make you stand out from the competition this holiday season. 

What do you do to celebrate the holidays in your store? Let us know in the comments!

About Jen Phillips April

A web writer since 2005, Jen’s written over 1000 articles on pet-related topics. She’s also led dozens of blogging and social media-themed workshops for small businesses around the country both virtually and in person. Passionate about both pets and digital marketing, you can find out more at When not working with her fabulous clients, you can find her eating tacos and practicing her Spanish in her adopted home of the Riviera Maya.