Creative Ideas for Last Minute Holiday Cards for Your Small Business

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

If you are a Small Business, a great way to remind your customers that you exist is to send out Holiday Greeting cards. If you haven’t done it yet, you may be a little late for mail, but there are other ways to do it last minute.

creative christmas cards small business

Seasons Greetings by Email

If you want to send your Seasons Greetings by email, this gives you an opportunity to send something that may get greater exposure for your business if it is unique enough that your customers then want to share on their social media pages.

  • Email an animated gif of a snowman being built or a Christmas tree getting decorated, with Seasons Greetings from Your Company written out in the snow at the end of the animation
  • Email a meaningful quote about Christmas overtop of a stunning photograph of a winter scene

Seasons Greetings by Social Media

Again, the key here is you want your customers to share on their social media pages, to extend the reach.

  • Using the Pic Stitch app, create a mosaic of photos of Christmas lights in your area, add your company name and post to your Instagram page using #PicStitch and #HappyHolidays
  • Tweet out a photo of a scene from a popular Christmas movie and one of the famous quotes from it and use the hashtags #quote and #quoteoftheday
  • Be creative to get noticed on Facebook. Use your products to spell out the words, Happy Holidays, take a photo and post to Facebook
  • Pin to Pinterest a photo of an Elf on the Shelf (very popular) holding a sign that says, “Seasons Greetings from {Your Company}

Happy New Year Greetings

Maybe you want to avoid getting lost in all the holiday greetings and focus on New Year’s Greetings instead. You don’t have to send these greetings out on January 1st exactly, but within the first few days.

  • Send an email with a free download for your customers, such as a 2015 calendar, a blank to do list page or a download such as, “25 Books to Read in 2015
  • Post yearly lists on social media that your customers would care about, such as “Top Google Searches for 2014” or “Top Fashion Trends for 2015“, along with a message wishing customers a Happy 2015!

The card shown above is from

Let me know which ideas you use and I will share on social media! Until next time … Gail 

Marketing Calendar for 2015Be Sure to Download My Monthly Marketing Calendar 

My monthly marketing calendar is packed with creative daily ideas that will keep your small business visible and attract more customers. The January 2015 now available for online stores, retail, restaurants, realtors and photographersDownload here. 



Why Your Small Business Needs a Marketing Calendar

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

Why does your small business need a marketing calendar? A marketing calendar is one of the best ways to stay on top of your marketing and promotional efforts. A marketing calendar makes sure that your business is taking advantage of all upcoming press opportunities, selling occasions, trending events and more. It is all about keeping your business visible with new and creative ways to promote it to potential customers.

Marketing Calendar for 2015

I have just launched my Marketing Calendars for January 2015 for the following types of small businesses:

  • Marketing Calendar for Restaurants
  • Marketing Calendar for Photographers
  • Marketing Calendar for Real Estate
  • Marketing Calendar for Retail Shops
  • Marketing Calendar for Online Shops/Ecommerce

For each day of January 2015, I give you three marketing tasks to do (93 total!) customized to your industry, plus room to fill in your own. Each calendar is a 17-page PDF ($10). Below I have pulled a few examples of the tasks from each calendar:

Marketing Calendar for Restaurants

  • Comment on and like 10 photos on Instagram for #foodporn
  • Update profile on Yelp with photos of latest winter menu items
  • Comment on 5 recent posts on blogs food lovers read, such as The Kitchn
  • Post a photo on Instagram for #NationalSpaghettiDay (January 4th)

Marketing Calendar for Photographers

  • Submit a photo to for their Photo of the Day
  • On January 1st Instagram out photos tagged #FirstPhotoof2015
  • Answer questions or join in discussions on about photography
  • Pin or repin 5 photos on Pinterest of “Photoshop Fails”

Marketing Calendar for Real Estate

  • Tweet out any new listings using #realestate & city hash tag (i.e. #Seattle)
  • Submit a listing to’s “For Sale” feature
  • Add a solar light to all home signs so passersbys can see at night
  • Comment on and heart 10 Instagram photos that are tagged #realestate

Marketing Calendar for Retail

  • Follow and like all customers on FourSquare that gave favorable review of shop
  • Promote Super Bowl products or specials on Facebook with $5 ad targeting people in area
  • Design a winter theme sandwich board sign and place down the street from shop
  • Encourage customers to Instagram photos of purchases for 10% off (tagged with shop name)

Marketing Calendar for Ecommerce/Online Shops

  • Post 10 products to Wanelo & follow 3 top posters
  • Comment on 5 online Valentine’s Gift Guides
  • Make a mosaic of products in shop using Pic Stitch app & post to Instagram with hash tag #PicStitch

Use my daily tactics to increase your visibility and drive more customers to your business! Download my marketing calendars at my online shop.

Happy selling! Until next time …. Gail

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

3 Christmas Traditions That Turned Into Marketing Genius

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

I have been noticing that some tried and true Christmas traditions have been slightly modified to become hot and trendy product offerings in today’s marketplace, from ugly Christmas sweaters to Advent calendars to Santa photos. What holiday traditions can your business modify for marketing gold? Consider how these ones have changed:

The Ugly Christmas Sweater

How popular has the ugly Christmas sweater become? I actually gave an idea to one of my pet business clients a couple of years back to come up with an ugly Christmas sweater for a dog. What dog owner wouldn’t buy that? But now companies, recognizing the crazy popularity on social media, have taken this popular phenomenon and made it into other products. The online fashion retailer, Top Shop, for example, raised the level of the ugly sweater and has a special section on their website entitled, Novelty Glam Sweaters (they even make it sound better), with slightly more fashionable designs. Then there is also the Ugly Christmas Sweater Kit ($30 at Nordstrom) aimed at teen girls that still want to express their individuality.

ugly xmas sweater kit

Advent Calendars

Advent calendars holding a small piece of chocolate for each day of December have been around since the 1950s. Then Lego got the brilliant idea years ago to come up with their Advent calendar and I went from spending $3 on a calendar to spending $30. Other companies have jumped on the Advent calendar craze as well, from offering whisky (Drinks by the Dram) to nail polish (Ciaté London). It is a great way to get customers to try a variety of your products or introduce them to new ones. Plus, they are great for generating publicity for your business.

nail polish advent calendar

lego advent calendar

Santa Photos

Malls and photo shops have been doing the traditional photo on Santa’s knee since anyone can remember. However today’s malls have now decided to capitalize on the crazy success of the kid’s Disney movie, Frozen, and offer a winter theme Frozen experience in addition to their annual Santa photo, even encouraging young girls to come dressed in their Elsa or Anna dresses for the photo. Why didn’t anyone think of this years ago when the movie Elf came out? Recreating the scene from the toy store would be a big hit!

Screen shot 2014-12-08 at 11.23.00 AM


Have I been able to inspire you for Christmas 2015? It is never to early to start thinking about how you can take a holiday tradition and make it work for your small business, even if just for the publicity it would generate.

Until next time, Gail…

Promotional Ideas for Small Businesses EbookNeed Help Marketing Your Small Business?

If your small business needs help  be sure to check out my Ebook shop as well as please see my Marketing Services page for a list of affordable options.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.



Top 5 Shopping Blogs to Follow

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

I love shopping blogs because they are some of the few sites out there that will still promote products for free, because that is the basis of their editorial content. Below are some of my favorites that I frequent almost daily. Now, keep in mind that some of these sites have additional advertising, sponsorship and promotional opportunities that you can pay for as well. So, let’s help keep these sites in business because they provide a great service for small, indie companies.


All of my e-commerce customers know my love for the shopping blog, Outblush. Every day (even weekends) Outblush posts 10 to 15 cool, quirky and unique products in the categories of fashion, food, books, kids, home, pets – you name it, they cover it all. Plus, they will write really smart, creative copy for your product that you can “borrow” for your own site. In other words, they know how to sell people on your product. Submit a product link to Product Submissions Outblush.

top shopping blogs outblush


Mighty Goods

Mighty Goods is another great product recommendation site with a “Buy” link that takes customers right to the product on your website. They have a fashion, beauty and wedding focus on their main page, but also have sections entitled, Mighty Haus (home goods) and Mighty Junior (baby and kids products). Send them a product tip at Tips at Mighty Goods.

top shopping blogs mighty goods


The Awesomer

If you sell products aimed at men, then you have to check out The Awesomer. Quite simply, they are looking for “awesome stuff”. Everything from clothing to gadgets to art and design to music. They also sell products in their own “Cool Material” shop. Submit a link to Suggest a Product to The Awesomer.

top shopping blogs the awesomer


Cool Mom Picks

Cool Mom Picks has long been the go-to site for anything parenting, baby and/or kid-related – and they have a huge social media following with over 430,000 Twitter followers. You can read for yourselves the types of products they are looking for at Contact Cool Mom Picks.

best shopping blogs cool mom picks



Uncrate is another amazing shopping blog targeting the male buyer. Sleek and stylish, they promote products in the categories of Gear, Style, Car, Tech, Vices, Body and Food. This is eye candy at its best. Send the men in your life here and simply tell them to hit “stash” on every product they like (creates a wish list). You can submit a product to them at Submit to Uncrate.

best shopping blogs uncrate

Any sites I missed? Let me know in comments …. ’til next time, Gail 

GB OliverNeed Help Marketing Your Small Business?

If your small business needs help, please see my Marketing Services page for a list of affordable options, and be sure to check out my Ebook shop.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.


Should Your Small Business Create an Annual Event, Just for the Publicity?

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

Every year Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie store, creates a “Fantasy Bra”. This is a bra that they unveil at the end of their annual fashion show, and it is typically jewel encrusted and worth millions of dollars. The bra isn’t for sale, merely a publicity opportunity that they started in 2001 …. and it does get lots of press from television, print and online media. #VSFantasyBra even started trending on social media simply when they announced which model would be wearing the bra. That is how popular it has become.

Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 8.01.05 AM

Next week Pantone will announce their color of the year. This isn’t a haphazard pick, but based on extensive interviews with fashion designers worldwide about which colors they plan to use in upcoming seasons, as well as sales of certain color swatches. Pantone’s announcement, which first started in 1999, has become an annual event that captivates not only the fashion press, but also the mainstream media.

So, would your small business benefit from an annual event, merely for the publicity it would generate? The key is to think of what it is you sell or offer, and how you can “own” it (so to speak) for an annual event. It can be in conjunction with a holiday or just the start of end of the year.

Here are Some Publicity Ideas to Consider:

  • A bar that annually runs a contest to choose its “Locally Brewed Beer for 2015″
  • A dental office that makes its yearly list of “Top 10 Celebrity Smiles”
  • A photography studio that sponsors the announcement of the first baby born in the new year with a free birth photo
  • A hair salon that chooses their “Hair Style of the Year”

Whatever event you decide to go for, simply pitch the story idea to your local press who is always looking for that fun, common interest story to write about. It may take a few years before the momentum for your event really takes off, but once it does you can leverage that local exposure into national exposure for your business.

Hope you liked today’s post! …. ’til next time, Gail 

GB OliverNeed Help Getting the Word Out About Your Small Business?

If your small business needs help, please see my Marketing Services page for a list of affordable options, and be sure to check out my Ebook shop.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.


Creative Signage Ideas to Draw Attention to Your Small Business

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

I was watching an old Shark Tank episode last night, and it featured a pitch by a company that sells sign waving machines. So instead of hiring people to stand at the side of the road waving a sign for your business (if you are having a sale or special event), this is actually an automated spinning sign that does just that.

Screen shot 2014-11-19 at 2.18.09 PMFour of the sharks were quickly out, but shark Lori Greiner made an offer because she felt the moving signs would be great for lagging retail stores. Then the four other sharks changed their mind, suddenly seeing its potential for eye-catching signage at open houses (real estate), sporting events, and more.

While I personally like it when companies think outside the box and try something new with an old medium, I do worry that once the novelty wears off, sign waving machines may join the balloons, flags, air dancers, giant inflatables, and people in costumes that also try to attention the attention of passersbys.

But it did get me thinking about a business’ signage and whether your signage is effectively getting you noticed.

Is Your Business Signage Effective?

Here are  some questions that you need to answer “yes” to, if you really want to have effective signage:

  • Is your sign visible from the road?
  • Is it readable from the road?
  • Is it well-lit at night?
  • Do you have signage on top of the building?
  • Does your signage project out from the building as well?
  • Do you have signage or text on your windows?
  • Do you use your business’ landscaping to display additional signage?
  • Do you use sidewalk sandwich board signs?
  • Do you use neon signs?
  • Do you have an awning with signage?

Screen shot 2014-11-19 at 11.01.17 AM

Some Creative Ideas for Signage

If permitted by the by-laws where your business is located, here are some creative signage ideas to consider:

  • Try putting signage down the road from your business, to create anticipation i.e. Sunflower Cafe, just 60 feet ahead
  • Add seasonal and holiday decor to your regular signage, such as a garland or wreath
  • Add a probe light or blinking light to signage to garner attention at night
  • Consider having parts of your sign move, such as a hand waving
  • Consider a video screen as signage (think Times Square in New York) that can constantly change
  • Consider signage that has a digital display below for company announcements, the time and the weather
  • In the warmer months, carve your business’ name into a hedge or the grass

Don’t just put up a sign. Think of new ways to really draw attention to your business.

Hope you liked today’s post! …. ’til next time, Gail 

GB OliverNeed Help Getting the Word Out About Your Small Business?

I would love to help your small business. Please see my Marketing Services page for a list of options, email me or fill in the form below to discuss how I can advise your small business.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.


Don’t Make This Common Marketing Mistake

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

When I was working for a software company, way back when, we hired a new CEO. The new CEO decided he wanted to make his mark on the company so he came to me, the Marketing Director, and said his first order of business was that he wanted to change the company logo. The company had a zillion other problems, but somehow he felt that changing the logo would make a huge difference. I convinced him it wouldn’t, because it was just change for the sake of change.

marketing mistakes

Change Only What is Not Working

This is how you know the difference between a true marketing professional and someone who really doesn’t know what they are doing. Changing a logo is bad for so many reasons not to mention the expense involved in discarding every document that has it on it and replacing it all with the new logo, but I won’t go into all that. My point is, you want to change ONLY what is NOT working. Just because you are not having the success you would like, does not mean everything you are doing is wrong.

If It is Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

I had a client the other day and normally I advise on SEO, but she was actually turning up on the first page of Google. She was getting a lot of traffic, just not converting the traffic into sales. So I did not advise on anything that would affect her SEO, but instead advised her on other changes I felt she needed to make that were likely causing the lack of sales. My point again, only fix what is broken. Change for the sake of change is not marketing and you risk actually making things worse.

JC Penney’s Marketing Change Mistake

A good recent example is retailer, JCPenney. When new executives took over they changed the store’s pricing structure, moving away from their weekly coupons and time-limited discounts to instead just offering lower prices all the time. It turns out the coupons and special offers was the one thing customers liked and sales took a nose-dive even further. The executives just assumed that because the company wasn’t successful anymore that everything needed to be changed, but that was wrong. Just change the things customers don’t like, it’s that simple.

Hope you liked today’s post! Feel free to let me know in comments.

Thanks for reading, 


GB OliverWant to Know What Is and Is Not Working with Your Small Business? 

I would love to help your small business. Please see my Marketing Services page for a list of options, email me at or fill in the form below to discuss how I can advise your small business.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

Tips for Success When You’re a Newbie in a Crowded Market

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

Are you just about to dive into a market that many others are already in, and doing it well? Are you offering a service that so many other, more experienced people with huge client bases are also offering?

Screen shot 2014-11-11 at 8.51.43 AM

So what to do when you are newbie or late entrant into your market? Give up? No. There is always room for new players, if you do one or both of these things:

  • Improve upon the weaknesses of your competitors
  • Find a niche no one else is targeting

Improve Upon Competitors’ Weaknesses

No company is perfect. Even successful companies like Apple have their weaknesses. One of the biggest complaints people have had for years is that  the iPhone has a horrible battery life. If another company were  to come along and offer everything the iPhone does, plus superior battery power, that may be enough for some customers to switch over.

Maybe you just opened a dental practice, and all the dental offices in your city close at 5:00 pm, frustrating those patients who can’t afford time off work. Simply keep your office open to 8 pm just a few days a week, to capitalize on this need.

A great way to find competitors’ weaknesses is to go to Yelp and read what their customers are saying. Whatever customers hate about their business, make sure these will be the things people will love about yours.

Find a Niche or Specialty to Target

The worse thing you can ever try to do as a business is try to be all things to all people. If you can find and specialize in a niche, you will have much better success. For example, if you have just become a realtor, finding new clients is always a challenge. You can target the newlyweds or the empty nester looking to downsize, like everyone else is, or you go after a niche your colleagues may not have considered, such as the out-of-town-buyer. Approach the Human Resources department of local companies who appear to be doing a lot of recruiting from other cities and states for new talent. This new talent will need help finding a new home, and that is where you can make sure you get first crack at the business.

Maybe you sell gadget cases for phones and devices. Everyone seems to be targeting their designs towards the female market, but why not create cases whose designs specifically target kids. Do you know how many young kids have a phone and/or iPad these days? In fact, iPad cases for kids is a top Google search because this segment of the market is growing so fast. Don’t be surprised if soon all pre-schoolers have their own phone. Jump on the new and upcoming market segments if you hope to be a leader in your field.

GB OliverNeed My Advice? Are you are a small business or professional who needs help with their branding, marketing and getting more clients? Email me at to find out how I can advise and come up with some creative marketing ideas just for you.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.



Creative Blog Ideas If You Offer Professional Services

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

Does my business need a blog? I get asked this a lot by my clients, particularly my professional services clients such as lawyers, financial advisors and realtors. If you are your brand (which, when you offer services is typically the case) then yes, you would benefit from a blog.

Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 1.28.56 PM

My blog is case in point. I doubt many people would hire me off the Internet if I didn’t back up my experience and reputation with blog posts that show my knowledge. It can be a powerful marketing tool for your business. That is why I do not accept guest posts, because I want the voice of the blog to strictly be my own (be leery of blogs that have a lot of guest writers, it tells me that they are relying on the expertise of others instead of their own).

A blog is time-consuming and a bit commitment, and I do not have much time to write mine these days, but it can find you new customers by drawing them in on content they care about.

Ideas for Blog Posts

Your blog topics should, for the most part, be things your potential clients are searching for on Google. If you are a lawyer, for example, using Google autocomplete start typing in “What are my rights” and you will see searches such as “What are my rights as a tenant?“, “What are my rights as a mother?“, “What are my rights in a common law relationship?“, and this becomes a good place to find topics to write about.

Quora is another great place to find topics your target market is interested in. If you are a realtor, look up their real estate questions and you will see people asking, “What is the best area in San Francisco to live in and why?orWhat is the worst investment for a home renovation?“. Make the title of your blog post these questions, and you may see more traffic from Google.

Ideas for More Creative Blog Posts

But do you really want to keep it all business? That could get a little boring for your followers so be sure to occasionally add more “lighter fare” content as well. So, for example, a baby photographer can blog about “Stylish Maternity Outfits to Wear in the Third Trimester” or a financial advisor could blog about, “Tax Horror Stories from the IRS“. 

Ideas for Timely, Trending Blog Posts

Check out the morning newswire to see if there is a news story that is trending that you can add your professional opinion to and capitalize on the trending hashtag. For example, as a lawyer, do you feel that quarantining nurses coming back from Africa is a violation of their human rights? Or as an accountant or financial advisor, what does today’s news that the Federal Reserve plans to keep its short-term interest rate near zero means for your clients? 

Ideas for Lighter Fare

Quirky blog posts always get attention. For inspiration, go over to Buzzfeed, known for their quirky content. You will find articles that people tend to gravitate towards, such as 24 Truly Appalling Real Estate Agent Photos and 12 Pick up Lines Only a Lawyer Can Use (ok, not too sure about this one, but you get the idea).

GB OliverNeed My Help? Are you are a professional who needs help with their branding, marketing and getting more clients? Email me at to find out how I can come up with some creative marketing ideas just for you.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.


7 Small Business Saturday Marketing Ideas for Your Online Business

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Consultant

Small Business Saturday is where consumers are encouraged to buy from local businesses, particularly for their holiday shopping. It is an initiative that was started by American Express back in 2010, and it always takes place on the Saturday after the Black Friday shopping day (which is the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday).

Now, while online businesses benefit from Cyber Monday two days later, your online business can still take advantage of Small Business Saturday with these easy marketing ideas.


7 Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday

  1. If you sell on a marketplace like Etsy or Storenvy make sure you have entered your city in your profile if you haven’t already, as customers can search for shops this way. You will also want to put it in your shop title and shop description, if only for Small Business Saturday. For your regular website, this is a good opportunity to mention your city somewhere in your title tag and home page, again, if only for Small Business Saturday (see next point on this as well).
  2. Add the keywords “small business saturday” with your city at the end, to your website’s keywords as this is a popular search phrase on Google. For example, “small business saturday nyc”.
  3. Email the editor of your local newspaper (do it this week or you’ll be too late!) asking if they are planning any articles on local companies offering specials for Small Business Saturday and mention a special you will be offering (make it worthwhile, like 30% off today only). Even better, ask if they will consider doing a separate article focusing on local businesses selling online. Can’t hurt to put the idea in their head.
  4. Offer a special just for customers from your city. For example, you could offer, “Today we are offering 30% off for customers in the Boston area, in support of Small Business Saturday”.
  5. Pair up with a few other online vendors in your city who sell complimentary (but not competing) products and ask that they mention you on their website/online shop if you mention them on yours. Kind of like a blog roll of local shops to check out on Small Business Saturday. Again, you only have to keep this on your site for the week prior to, and the days after Small Business Saturday.
  6. Send off some Tweets using the #hash tags #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSaturday #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat, but add your city at the end to get to your local market i.e. #SmallBusinessSaturdayBoston (make sure your Twitter profile lists your city and change your Twitter Trends box to see what is trending in your city). Also, retweet the tweets of other businesses in your city and they may return the favor.
  7. Make sure you have a profile on Yelp, Google Places and Yahoo Local. These listings are free and they help you to show up in local search results. In the case of Yelp, add a photo/image of any special you are offering for Small Business Saturday.

Take advantage of this amazing once-a-year marketing opportunity to reach your local market. There are also a variety of free marketing resources and other ideas available at American Express’ Shop Small Website.

Small Business Marketing IdeasNeed Help Marketing Your Online Business? 

Be sure to check out my Ebook Shop

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.




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