7 ways small businesses can maximize Black Friday
On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the busiest retail day of the year, malls will be crowded, holiday decorations will go up and shops will get ready for the season’s onslaught of shoppers. But what can small businesses do to prepare for this annual day of frenzy, and how can they lure eager customers, maximize sales and possibly beat the competition? Read on for some expert advice.
1. Plan ahead.
“Being successful on Black Friday starts long before Black Friday,” says Melodi Guilbault, an independent market research consultant and marketing instructor at University of Phoenix School of Business and Warner University.
One idea: Consider emailing your customers information about your holiday schedule, events and bargains. “Give your best customers a special offer,” she says. “Find a deal for your customers that no one else can offer.”
2. Think outside the box.
Guilbault explains that small businesses have several advantages, including being able to provide more niche items than big-box stores and more personalized service to their clientele. “Small businesses need to build their marketing on the foundation of service and customer relationships.”
3. Use loss leaders to get customers in the door.
Businesses need to offer discounts to draw people in on Black Friday. These promotions can include “buy one, get one free,” or “half-price” sales or selling items at a steep — almost giveaway — discount, says Isaac Owolabi, a small business consultant and business and marketing instructor for the School of Business at University of Phoenix. You could also have something similar to a “blue-light sale,” an old retail tactic in which a blue light flashes when specially priced items are announced via intercom for a short window of time. This can bring shoppers into the store to buy not only the specially priced items but other items as well.
4. Offer incentives for repeat customers.
This can include “earned points” for regular shoppers or “frequent flier” or affinity-type incentives, Owolabi says.
5. Get into the holiday spirit.
“Display is very powerful,” Owolabi says. You can also offer coffee and cookies to entice buyers into the store.
6. Make the most of advertising, marketing and social media opportunities.
Consider cooperative advertising with other businesses in the same locale, a technique that can save money and get the word out prior to Black Friday. You can also do guerilla marketing, by placing ads throughout the store — even near the bathrooms — to “ambush” customers “where you don’t expect to see that kind of commercial,” Owolabi notes.
Many companies, such as yoga-wear maker Lululemon, also use social networking tools like Facebook® to reach customers. And don’t forget about the powers of direct mail, such as flyers and other advertisements. “Direct mail is an excellent tool that businesses can use,” he says.
7. Make sure you set up shop in the right location.
Most importantly, businesses need to make sure they are in a good locale. “If you are not in the right location,” Owolabi says, “every effort you try to make will be futile.”
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