Oct 28, 2022 | 8 min read

Thanksgiving marketing ideas to show your gratitude

Thanksgiving can be a prime opportunity for small businesses to spread the word about their offerings. As families and communities gather to share gratitude, they also begin their holiday shopping in earnest. Thanksgiving is an opportune time to start promoting your business ahead of the busy season.

Beyond promoting sales and discounts, your Thanksgiving marketing can also show your appreciation for the loyal customers who help you succeed and create ways to give back to the community.

Whether you own a boutique bakery, manage a neighborhood gift shop, or provide handyman or landscaping services throughout your community, here are our leading Thanksgiving promotion ideas to help you stand out from your competition and make a difference while you’re at it.

#1 Share your gratitude

Demonstrating your appreciation for your customers or clients is a meaningful way to boost ongoing loyalty and encourage repeat customers. While sales may be the highlight of the holiday shopping season, increased customer loyalty is no small benefit. Research shows that raising customer retention by a mere 5% can increase your profit anywhere from 25 to 95%. Show your appreciation and increase customer loyalty by offering a special discount, a complimentary service, or a small token of your appreciation.

Send out a festive email with your gift of thanks, or hang banners and signs to make customers aware of it when they stop in at your studio, shop, or restaurant. You can also offer a promotional code to your followers online, such as on your Nextdoor Business Page.

Another option is to express your appreciation to other small business owners. Small business owners typically need their communities and each other to thrive. Offering special Thanksgiving season perks and discounts to other small businesses in your area can fuel future recommendations and foster bonds between you and other owners. For example, you can provide a discount code or coupon to other businesses in your neighborhood around Thanksgiving. This way, you’re inviting them to learn more about your business, and in turn, showing an interest in getting to know them. 

Of course, don't forget to send them a custom message as part of your Thanksgiving email marketing strategies. 

#2 Create and promote gift baskets

This season, you can also consider how to promote your products to appeal to different kinds of customers. Some may wish to pick and choose individual items for their holiday shopping wishlist—but others may appreciate the ease of a gift basket.

If you own a yoga studio, for example, a gift basket that includes a yoga towel, a small bottle of fragrant spray (to tidy up the recipient’s mat), and a gift certificate for a week of classes will make for a terrific seasonal holiday present. If you happen to run a chocolate shop, a gift basket filled with sweet treats is an ideal hostess gift. Or, if you own a real estate firm, say thank you to some of your clients with a small gift basket filled with a candle, gift card, and candies.

The holiday season is the busiest time of year for many people. Thoughtful, pre-made, and beautifully presented gift baskets can help consumers save time and energy and still make a lasting impression on their friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Get inventive, and don’t forget to market your creations on all your online platforms.

#3 Implement a loyalty program that coincides with the holiday

Loyalty programs have the potential to become the lifeblood of your small business. They can:

  • Encourage repeat visits and improve sales
  • Increase customer retention and nurture stronger relationships
  • Provide insights to your customers
  • Improve your customers’ experiences
  • Drive word-of-mouth recommendations
  • Expand brand awareness

If you don’t have a loyalty program in place, Thanksgiving may be an optimal time to establish one. Whether it’s reward points, special discounts, or priority service, you can indicate you’re implementing the program as a way to convey your appreciation for their ongoing business.

#4 Participate in Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is a boon for many small business owners. It helps generate foot traffic, introduces new customers to your wares and services, and gives return customers an incentive to visit your business.

In fact, a 2021 survey reveals consumers are prioritizing their support for small businesses. 3 in 5 consumers planned to skip Black Friday and shop on Small Business Saturday instead.

This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 26th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving—and the more you prep and promote in advance, the higher your chances of reaping the day’s rewards.

To highlight your business this Thanksgiving, consider offering a Small Business Saturday promotion that shows what makes your business unique. For example, in 2021, Louisville, KY leather goods store Clayton & Crume offered free in-store monogramming for any leather goods purchased that day.

#5 Take part in a food drive

Given that Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude, one of the most meaningful ways you can market your presence in your neighborhood is to give back to your community. This time of year, consider taking part in a good drive.

A food drive can support an existing local organization or food bank. Food banks play an imperative role in communities for several reasons:

  • Food banks can offer relief from food insecurity, which affects 34 million people in the United States, including 9 million children.
  • Food banks provide groceries for those who have a low income, a disability, chronic health conditions, and/or have reduced access to food for many other reasons.

Holding a food drive at your small business allows you to give back in a meaningful and impactful way. It also works perfectly with the "Happy Thanksgiving" spirit. 

You can offer discounts on products or services for every can of food or non-perishable food item a customer brings in. Or, if you’re a restaurant owner, consider offering a complimentary dessert or cocktail. A food drive can bring compassionate customers to your business and help you build—or further—an excellent reputation within your community.

#6 Plan a toy donation drive

Another meaningful event you can incorporate into your Thanksgiving promotions is a toy drive. Toy drives enable parents and caregivers who are facing financial hardship to provide children with holiday gifts. To put one in place:

  • Contact a local charity – Partnering with a local charity will ease the question of when and how the toys will be distributed. Search for family services within your community, reach out to school administrators or contact your local fire or police department.
  • Establish a timeframe – The more time you have to collect donations, the larger your contribution will be. Consider starting your toy drive two weeks before Thanksgiving and allowing it to run through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
  • Reward people for their donations – Offering customers a reward for their donation may spur them to participate while also giving you the opportunity to introduce them to your small business or sell them a service or product. Rewards can run the gamut from 15% off select merchandise to a complimentary service, such as waxing services from medispa owners or a jar of jam from owners of gourmet markets.

#7 Hold a thanksgiving competition

From recipe contests to hashtag challenges, competitions are a surefire way to drum up interest in your business. 

When managed and executed successfully, they can propel organic traffic and augment awareness about your company. The competition and its award should be aligned with your target audience—the neighborhood customers who frequent your business.

One creative example of a Thanksgiving contest is 808 Wellness’s “Planksgiving Contest,” which challenged yogis to compete in a plank contest. Leading up to the event, participants drew bets from friends, colleagues, and small businesses, anywhere from $5 to $100. In 2020, the contest earned nearly $800, which they donated to the Maui Food Bank. 

If you own a gym or studio or work as a private coach or personal trainer, consider a similar competition. But if you run another type of business, the options for contests are plentiful. Landscaping businesses could sponsor a photo contest asking contestants to submit photos of their favorite outdoor plant or landscape feature, restaurant owners could run a competition for the most creative Thanksgiving Day menu, and nurseries could offer a Thanksgiving contest on the best seasonal produce.

#8 Create your own thanksgiving traditions (and share them)

The true spirit of Thanksgiving weekend can be eclipsed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

To counter this, in one of the most successful Thanksgiving weekend marketing campaigns, REI defied convention and created the #OptOutside movement–closing their doors at their 100-plus locations on Black Friday, paying its 12,000 employees, and urging people to get out into nature.

In the first year of the campaign, the program created a tidal wave of interest. 

Edelman reports that it led to a 36% hike in online traffic and 2.7 billion impressions on social media within the first 24 hours of its launch. Over 500 companies have now followed suit, including Subaru and the Sierra Club. Today, it’s considered one of the most triumphant marketing movements in recent years, in large part because it underscored REI’s purpose.

You can go against the grain in a similar way to spark interest in your small business’s mission. The reason behind your existence should shape your campaign. That could include:

  • Online-only specials to encourage consumers to stay at home and savor time with their loved ones
  • A reward, such as a gift certificate or a special discount, for consumers who spend part of Thanksgiving volunteering at a soup kitchen or similar charity. 

The ultimate goal is to be brave and innovative and highlight it in your online marketing efforts.

Amplify your Thanksgiving marketing strategies with Nextdoor

Planning Thanksgiving marketing campaign ideas with meaningful messages, fun contests, and alluring sales can all be smart strategies—but in order to get the word out to your community, you’ll also need a way to share them with clients and customers. For that reason, don’t forget to make your online presence part of your marketing strategy this Thanksgiving season. If you play your cards right, you’ll find success in your Thanksgiving marketing campaign.

Nextdoor can elevate your marketing strategy efforts by linking you directly with your local community. We offer small business owners a range of perks to help them maximize their potential, from free business pages to the ability to post promotions and interact with existing and potential customers. 

Claim your Nextdoor Business Page today to start sharing the season.


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Author image Nextdoor Editorial Team At Nextdoor, we love local. The Nextdoor Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of local businesses, providing product education, and sharing marketing best practices to help businesses grow.