As the holiday sales season is in full swing, accounting for up to 30% of annual sales on average, it’s essential that businesses – be it a restaurant, retail store, or service provider – capitalize on the busy season. You may have already noticed an increase in traffic; however, marketing is a simple yet powerful way to drive sales further.

As a small to mid-size business, it may seem that the return on marketing isn’t worth the cost, but you don’t have to spend much money to get creative with your marketing. To help you make the most of the largest shopping season of the year, here are seven free or low-cost ways to market your business.

Offer Gift Cards

If you’ve ever been stumped for what to get someone who has everything, you know the value of gift cards. You may not think of your business as one that would offer them, but many businesses, from auto shops to salons and even exterminators, are now selling them. Not only are gift cards a great way for indecisive shoppers to keep your business top of mind, but 72 percent of customers who receive them actually spend more than the value of their card. As the holiday season draws to a close, why not offer a $5 gift card with purchases over a certain price point? This will encourage customers to come back and shop in the post-holiday period. Learn more about the advantages of incorporating gift cards into your payment acceptance system.

Use Social Media to promote your Small Business

According to a survey, over half of people are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow on social media. If your business isn’t taking advantage of social media yet, now is the time to join! Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are the most cost-effective way to spread the word about your business and build relationships with current and potential customers. Try offering holiday discounts to followers on your page to help grow your network, and make customers feel special.

Take Advantage of Community Events.

If your community has any special events happening over the holidays, use them to help promote your business. From lit-up Christmas trees to visits from Santa, many communities host holiday festivities that draw in crowds. To find out what’s going on, take a look at your local government’s website for a schedule of events. Additionally, you could consider adding your business to a program or partnering with a local event, such as a school concert, church service, or New Year’s celebration, by providing some of your goods. Taking part in community activities is an excellent way to spread the word about your business and gain more customers.

Utilize Charitable Donations as a Promotional Strategy

Charitable donations not only benefit deserving organizations and foster a connection between your business and the local community, but they can also be used as an effective marketing tool. Studies have shown that 56% of Americans are willing to go out of their way to buy a product that supports a cause they care about, and 71% are willing to pay more for it. You can use this to your advantage by connecting cause-driven customers with your local business, which will bring attention to both your business and the nonprofits you support.

Partner with Other Small Businesses

Rather than competing with local businesses, why not work together? It can be a great way to promote each other for free. For example, you could have a multi-business discount, or you could let each other hand out coupons. Customers appreciate it when businesses show mutual support, and it makes them feel better about shopping with you knowing you’re supporting other businesses in the area.

Create a Customer Database

During the holiday season, there is a high chance of an increase in traffic to your business. To make the most of this opportunity, collect customer data to use after the season concludes. Although many local businesses may hesitate to ask customers for their email addresses, the majority of customers are willing to offer it so they can keep up with sales and other announcements. 61% of consumers even enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly. Put in the effort to compile customer data and send out a welcome email once the busy holiday period has ended.

Send a Personalized New Year’s Card

Keep the holiday spirit going by sending your customers personalized New Year’s cards! Showing your gratitude for their patronage is a great way to remind them of the value of shopping locally. The holidays are a time to celebrate our community, so let your customers know you appreciate them and their support. Use the card to share news or important achievements to encourage customers to keep investing in your business.