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Last-Minute Tips to Drive Holiday Sales
CNBC.com | December 20, 2011 | 10:40 AM EST

Guest columnist Scott Steinberg writes about things small businesses can do in the last before Christmas to increase holiday sales.

With just five days left until Christmas, time is running tight for entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners alike to rack up holiday sales, and tie a nice bow around that Q4 balance sheet.

Happily for those hoping to outfox larger or better-funded rivals, a variety of high-tech and online marketing solutions can help you compete. From social media campaigns to referral marketing programs and money-saving apps for smartphones and tablets, a variety of affordable last-minute alternatives to expensive paid media buys are within business owners’ reach.

No matter your promotional experience or advertising budget, the following high-tech tools can help you boost sales, increase customer satisfaction and raise brand awareness through the holidays and into 2012.

Use social media to spread the word. Paid advertising is typically expensive, booked months in advance and offers dubious returns for those forced to settle for a smaller share of voice.

Merchants that are targeting local audiences on shoestring budgets can use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to instantly connect with customers by coupling timely announcements with arresting deals.

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