Your whole year has been leading up to this moment. Black Friday is impending, and you may already be gritting your teeth and wondering how you’re going to handle the stress of this massive retail free-for-all. Never fear: we’ve called in for help from some small business pros for pointers on how to make this your smoothest and most profitable Black Friday yet.
1. Get Mobile.
Gary Huhn, Marketing Manager, National Funding
You might be exhausted of being advised that you need a mobile strategy, but this message has never been more important than during the holidays. So many customers will be spending their time on-the-go and waiting in lines using their mobile devices to perform research and make purchases. Small businesses don’t need to have a fully optimized mobile site or app, but you should start small. Only incorporate your most important pages on a mobile site. Also, try using a third party email client that automatically adjusts your emails to the reader’s device so all your Black Friday reminders are seen by the largest audience possible.
2. Think Outside the Box.
Roberta Perry, Founder, ScrubzBody™
This year we are trying something new. We are making our own Black Friday the week before Thanksgiving and having a BOGO sale and Open House party. We know how frantic the shopping can be on the actual Black Friday, so while we will have promotions that day, we are offering a shopping experience along with the sale on our day.
3. Stock Up on Inventory (…and Learn from Your Mistakes).
Andrew VanderLind, Co-Founder, Where I’m From
The proper inventory helps us survive Black Friday. We know what t-shirts are the top sellers online and at each of our mall locations. By having the proper inventory, we don’t have to worry about running out of a popular shirt and disappointing a prospective customer. We like to thrive on Black Friday, and the proper inventory is the biggest issue for us. We had an issue one of our first years in business, and we’ll never let this bring us down again.
4. Use Plugins on Your Website to Emphasize Promotions.
Christian McCoy, Owner, Cookie Bouquets
We implemented Hello Bar. This plugin allows for us to drive more attention to our most important website content. For Black Friday, this is huge to draw attention to the major promotions we’ll be focused on.
5. Plainly Lay Out Your Return Policy.
Bryan Robertson, Chief Revenue Officer, Mindyra
Set a clear return policy. When shoppers are buying gifts for friends or family, there are going to be people who want to return or exchange their purchase. Whether it’s the wrong size, color, or style, it’s safe to assume a significant number of customers will be returning gifts after the holidays. In order to avoid any confusion, it’s a good idea to outline your business’s return policy on your company website and remind shoppers to keep their receipts.
6. Implement a Countdown.
John Birchall, Social Media Strategist, Proko
At Proko.com we make sure our website creates a sense of urgency about the sales and discounts we offer on Black Friday. One of the most important ways we do this is by creating a notification bar that displays at the top of our site on each page a user visits. We typically include a countdown timer along with information on how much customers can save during the day (or week) of Black Friday.
7. Invest in Some Additional Help.
Abby Studdert, Owner, Graham Boutique
Getting everything shipped out efficiently and quickly is also important. If you don’t have extra help over the holiday season, I would highly recommend doing some hiring. I hire 4 extra employees during this time to help with the task of shipping all product on time. Your customers will be anxious to get their items, and not being prepared can hurt you.
8. Move Out Your Older Stock to Make Way for New Items.
Darren Green, Founder & CEO, WoodenBlinds Direct
We always look forward to Black Friday; this is a business’s chance to either push new products, or, better still, cut down on older stock. When Black Friday comes around, we take it as an opportunity to promote older ranges of blinds and accessories; we offer these at knock-down prices to customers, who are always happy to accept a top quality product for a reduced price. This makes room for us to begin promoting our new line of products for the year ahead, without worrying about our warehouse being overstocked with older items.
9. Take a Good, Hard Look at Your Numbers.
Jaime Lizotte, HR Solutions Manager, ComplyRight
Run the numbers on your expected holiday earnings to get an idea of your store’s year-end earnings and what combination of seasonal help, overtime pay, and temporary full-time status makes financial sense. Use calculators to run overtime scenarios, and to determine what hourly wage is fair for seasonal workers given expected overtime.
10. Reward Your Loyal Customers.
Jennifer Martin, Founder, Zest Business Consulting
Throw a gratitude party for your regular customers, their friends, and family (either in person or virtually). Offer them a special sale or discount and here’s the big one…Do it BEFORE Black Friday! There’s no bad time to be grateful for the people who keep your business running.
11. Don’t Overcomplicate Things.
Lisa Chu, Owner, Black N Bianco
As a small business owner, the most useful insight I can provide to surviving Black Friday is try to keep things simple. It may sound like common sense, but a lot of small business owners attempt to compete with well known retailers by offering multiple layers to a Black Friday sale.
A small business does not have the capital or manpower to compete with big chain retailers with an expansive Black Friday sale. Do not complicate your life and create a situation that will cause chaos for your small business. Keeping it simple will help you manage your sales and create an environment employees and customers will enjoy. Every business is competing for attention on Black Friday; simplicity will be key for a small business to attract target customers to their store.
12. Take Advantage of Social Media.
Bob Shirilla, Marketing Director, Simply Bags
It’s all about social promotion, but you can’t wait until Black Friday. Social marketing is a 365 day a year job and you reap the benefits on special days like Black Friday.
Build your social following by:
• Writing a professional bio on each social network
• Using hashtags
• Listening and engaging with others
• Making sure your content is shareable
• Sharing other people’s content and giving credit
• Reaching out to influencers
• Staying active on a daily basis
• Following users in your space
• Developing great content
13. Be Generous.
Luke Knowles, Creator, Free Shipping Day
Make an offer during these events that’s competitive and noteworthy/worthwhile to your customers. Customers expect big deals on Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Free Shipping Day, so don’t skimp on this important step. Consider what your customers want and what they find valuable.
Free shipping is one of the strongest promotions that online shoppers respond to, which is why we created Free Shipping Day. Ultimately, your customers should feel that what you’re offering during these events is a good deal!
14. Make Use of Pinterest for Marketing.
Lesroy Durand, CEO & Founder, Ledhealthandfitness
I recommend utilizing Pinterest because it is one of the best social media platforms to increase brand awareness and boost sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In comparison to other social media networks, Pinterest has a higher conversion rate than Facebook and Twitter combined. The rapidly growing network boasts an average over 150 million monthly users to showcase your products or services to attract new customers. Pinterest offers the ability for your prospective buyers to save your pins or shop items onto their boards. These boards are typically categorized as shopping lists or things of interest. Marketing on Pinterest is a great strategy for boosting your sales throughout the holidays as a small business.
15. Increase Your Site’s Visibility with SEO.
Bob Ellis, Founder & Owner, Bavarian Clockworks
Make sure your website is optimized for search engines. For many small businesses and online retailers, Black Friday and the month before Christmas are the most important times of the year for sales. It’s crucial for shoppers to be able to find your business online. Simply having a website isn’t enough. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be a significant component of your marketing strategy in order to drive traffic to your site. SEO is all about using the right keywords on your website, blog posts, and other online material and getting links back to your site to help it rank in the search engines.
16. Make Sure Things Are Up and Running Smoothly.
Kathryn Brooks, Owner, She’s Her Own CEO
For e-commerce businesses, be sure to test all promo codes and offers for flow and functionality before Black Friday. Ensure that codes and website links from social media provide your customers with a smooth checkout experience.
17. Use Proximity Alerts for Mobile Devices.
Sean Martin, Content Marketing Manager, Directive Consulting
You can also set up beacon advertising software that will send out relevant sales and special offers to anyone within a given proximity to your store. Using these on the actual Black Friday gives you a huge leg up on competition as it can bring in traffic from other stores near you if they are heavy mobile users. Target is even experimenting with in-store beacons to advertise specific products to customers who are already in their store.
18. Streamline the Checkout Process.
Tom Mucklow, Partner Development Manager, Addressy
One thing that is often overlooked when preparing for peak trading periods is user experience. Nearly one third of shoppers will abandon their cart if the online checkout process is too long or complicated. One way of minimizing this issue is to use address verification – a tool that helps users enter their addresses on your checkout forms easily and quickly. Not only does this technology create a great user experience, but also means fewer failed deliveries and improved conversion rates. The subscription box business Candy Club increased conversions by 40% after implementing a similar solution on their checkout.
19. Use Image Ads.
Katie DeCicco, CEO, Celebration Saunas
The most useful tool that our company uses to drive traffic to our website and increase sales over the Black Friday weekend is AdWords image ads with a Black Friday theme. These images follow everyone who has visited our website in the last 6 months. They see our black Friday images when they read the news on their computer or phone, in the games they play, and in the videos they watch. It increases our click-through rate over 200% and reduces our cost per action by 50% for the week leading up to and the week after the holiday.
20. Create Excitement with a Giveaway.
Robin Graham, Owner, Q CanvasPrints
Come up with a social media strategy that engages your customer and gets them excited about your product or service. One tried and true digital strategy is the giveaway. Create a special Black Friday post about one of your best/top selling products. Tell a story about it–why it’s valuable and how it serves the customer. Then post it on your social platforms and engage your audience. Ask them to share that post (and tag you) in order to enter to win the featured product.
Over to You
What techniques are you planning on utilizing to help you come out on top this Black Friday? Start brainstorming your strategy early, and you’ll be ready to face the day confident and stress-free.