Advertising Tips for an Unconventional Holiday Season

10.07.2020 Sara Brasfield


Like the rest of the year that has come before it, the 2020 holiday shopping season is going to look different than in the past. Brick-and-mortar stores have redesigned their floor plans, their in-store rules and their overall shopping experience to better account for the health concerns likely to persist through the winter months.

At the same time, consumer spending habits have been thrown into disarray. Businesses with an e-commerce presence can expect more online purchases as consumers seek out shopping options that keep them away from physical stores. Some of your holiday shoppers may be eager to spend additional income sitting in their bank accounts due to cancelled travel plans and limited entertainment and restaurant spending—but others will be strapped for cash due to income loss from earlier this year, and will be even more selective about where and how they spend their holiday budget.

All combined, these factors make it impossible to predict what will happen during the 2020 holiday shopping season. What is certain, however, is that businesses need an advertising strategy in place to connect with shoppers and drive revenue during this crucial holiday season.

It’s never too early to start planning your holiday ad strategy. Here are some tips to guide you toward success.


Your existing customer base should always be prioritized in your holiday ad strategy. But now more than ever, new customers—including customers who were previously loyal to rival brands—are potentially up for grabs. According to research from McKinsey, 46 percent of U.S. consumers have switched brands or retailers since the start of the pandemic.

This is a huge shift in consumer shopping behavior, brought on primarily by the disruption caused by the pandemic. The reasons for these individual decisions may vary—some businesses may offer better online shopping or better in-store safety guidelines, for example. Your business can leverage this opportunity by using diverse, omnichannel ad messaging to speak to multiple pain points customers in your vertical may be experiencing.

Ad channels like social media and search can be very effective at targeting new customers through paid strategies—including customers who are following or actively seeking out your competitors. These campaigns can work alongside awareness-level campaigns on TV and radio to increase your brand’s visibility among coveted local shoppers.


If e-commerce has always taken a back seat to your in-store experience, 2020 might be the holiday season to shift your priorities. Make sure your e-commerce site is mobile-friendly and set up to take secure payments from shoppers.

Once you’ve made these adjustments to your e-commerce store, promote this online shopping heavily across all of your ad channels—especially owned media like social networks and email, where you can broadcast the change to your built-in customer base who might not be aware of these improved shopping options.


Remember how 2020 tore customer loyalty to pieces? You can prevent the same thing from happening to your business by investing in a strong customer loyalty program.

To boost awareness and participation around the holidays, you can even consider offering a loyalty program boost that offers additional rewards earnings for purchases made during the holiday season. This can effectively function as a discount program to keep your business competitive with other businesses—especially larger chains that might be able to beat you on price-matching.

More importantly, the accumulation of loyalty points will incentivize return visits by your customers, increasing sales opportunities as the holiday shopping season gives way to 2021.


Your customer base remains concerned about their safety when shopping in your store. McKinsey notes that at least 50 percent of customers want the businesses they shop at to be following all recommended safety guidelines. This commitment to safety should be reflected in your ad messaging, speaking directly to this significant point of concern.

In-store technologies can also improve the safety of your in-store experience—and they may encourage more shoppers to visit your brick-and-mortar location. Demand for mobile payment options has increased by 80 percent since business shutdowns earlier this year. Technology adoption is one way to demonstrate your willingness to innovate and accommodate your customers. These changes, as well as safety-minded services such as contactless pickup and socially distanced store layouts, are worth highlighting in your company’s ad strategy.

When it comes to driving holiday sales, the early bird usually gets the worm. The more advance planning you can do around this major sales season, the better positioned your business will be to maximize your sales opportunities, and finish the calendar year on a strong note.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be. Contact us today to see how we can help you build a winning holiday ad strategy.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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