As the days shorten and the air begins to chill, small business owners everywhere are overcome with a sense of urgency. Black Friday is coming – it’s the biggest sales event of the year and large chain stores will undoubtedly show up to battle with an arsenal of sales, an army of employees, and all the advertising ammo they can muster.

How, as a small business with a tight budget and limited resources, can you reap the bounties of Black Friday 2015? You may not have the numbers, but with a little preparation, you can have the skills it takes for a successful sales event.

Check out these small business Black Friday dos and don’ts you can learn from The Game of Thrones.


Don’t Hire Help Like Khaleesi

Big chain businesses tend to take a Khaleesi-style approach to preparing for Black Friday. They shoot for numbers, rallying thousands of temporary employees to meet their Black Friday demands. Last year, Walmart hired 60,000 employees to fight their seasonal rush. Target hired 70,000 additional employees, and Macy’s added 86,000 to their crew of retail workers.

As a small business, you likely can’t afford to grow your sales army in such a way. Instead, you’ll have to focus on making the soldiers you do have as powerful as can be.

Make sure your employees know your products and know them well. Keep your employees with more experience on the floor and assign those with less experience to tasks that require little customer interaction, such as stocking shelves, bagging or gift wrapping.

Don’t stop there, though. OSHA sent out an information packet to major retailers last year describing the safety measures they should have in place on Black Friday. Since your goal is to pull as many people into your store as possible, make sure your staff is brought up-to-date on these crowd management techniques.


Do Advertise Like Lord Fray

Who doesn’t remember the Red Wedding scene from The Game of Thrones? When Lord Walder Fray decided to take revenge against Rob Stark, he didn’t shoot an arrow into the air and hope it’d hit a Stark; instead, he sent his assassins to the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roselyn Frey, where he knew all the Starks would be gathered together. The plan was successful, with Rob Stark, his mother, and most of his 3,500 bannermen meeting their demise.

So, how can your Black Friday advertising campaign be as successful as Lord Fray’s campaign to slaughter the family of the man who wronged his daughter?

If you’re planning on going all out and splurging on a television commercial or radio spot, it’s time to reconsider your spending.

Last year alone, Walmart spent $70.7 million on television ads and Macy’s spent $33.8 million. Big chain stores have saturated this media outlet and there’s little small businesses can do to combat that.

What you can do, however, is play it smart like Lord Fray and focus on the people who you know are looking at your ads – the ones who already subscribe to your content.

Beef up your social media and email marketing. The people who receive your company emails or subscribe to your social media posts pushed a little button agreeing to receive your content. They’re already targeted, gathered, and attentive – you just have to drop the bomb with some great deals and attention-grabbing updates.

Now isn’t the time for customer acquisition. Now is the time to remind existing customers that their business matters to you, and that you’re willing to prove it by offering them incentives to do their holiday shopping at your store.


Do Choose Your Sales Products Like Lady Brienne

It’s hard not to love Lady Brienne, Maid of Tarth. She’s doesn’t follow the Game of Thrones standard of beauty, she’s not rich, doesn’t have great weapons, and she doesn’t have the best combat skillset, either.

What she does have, though, is a single, undying devotion to fulfill the wishes of Lady Stark.

As a small business, you may not be able to offer the vast array of deals and rock-bottom prices that big chain stores can offer. If you try, you’ll likely look disorganized and not very special at all.

If you offer a select few deals on Black Friday, though, and make sure that every customer who enters your store has a good experience, those customers will remember you as a business they can connect with. They’ll buy from you because you’re not trying to hide behind a façade – you’re just doing what you do well and offering good deals to boot.

You don’t have to be the best store with the most deals. You just have to be devoted to knowing your product, selling it at a decent price, and offering friendly, reliable service.


Don’t Treat Your Customers Like King Joffrey

King Joffrey had a pretty good deal laid out on the table for Sansa Stark. If she married him, she’d have gotten to rule the land, live in a beautiful castle, and eat all the pigeon pie a queen could ever want.

But Sansa didn’t marry King Joffrey. In fact, she ran as far away from him as her medieval legs would carry her and his heaping slab of ceremonial pie ended his life.

If you can’t create a good customer experience for those who enter your store, you’ll end your customer relations time and time again. You cannot discount your products enough to entice a Black Friday crowd into your store if they know they’ll be treated poorly once they enter the door.

Be kind, courteous, and helpful to your customers, always. By doing this, not only will you have a successful Black Friday event, but you’ll stay busy all year round as your customers return to the shop that treated them well during the Black Friday rush.

You may not be the biggest, strongest store in your area this winter, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t fare well on Black Friday. Focus on creating a well-educated staff, advertising to existing customers, and having a few solid, great deals. Most of all, though, extend the financial benefits of Black Friday by creating return visit-worthy, positive customer interactions for the men and women who brave the crowds to stop by your store on the busiest shopping day of the year.




  • Caz*, November 2, 2015 @ 8:06 pm

    I don’t understand any of the Game of Thrones references because I am lame…. but I do really love and agree with the points that Anna makes in this super creative post!!!! I love this post, and I love seeing our writers, like Anna, putting such great and creative content out there!

  • Jim Straughan, November 10, 2015 @ 8:59 am

    Craz order the cd’s 🙂
    Liked the article well written.Entertaining and factual

  • Josh Virchow, November 13, 2015 @ 10:24 am

    I have to say that I love the Khaleesi reference the most! I highly agree with that statement, because it doesn’t look good on a customers point of view when you see a bunch of random employees that don’t seem to know what they’re doing.

  • Robin Johnson, November 13, 2015 @ 2:24 pm

    Haha, I don’t understand them either. But Anna did make some really solid points that I think are super applicable. Also, as someone who HATES Black Friday (crowds give me anxiety), I would prefer to shop at a small business that doesn’t try to do the same thing as the big box stores, since those are the places I actively want to avoid.

  • Sarah Jane Dayley, November 17, 2015 @ 8:43 am

    I’m with you Robin, I tend to avoid Black Friday like the Black Plague! 😉 Last year was one of the first that I ventured out, and I opted to go to smaller businesses instead of the big guys. Not only did I find amazing deals, but they weren’t overly crowded and were able to give me attention when I had questions.

  • Parker Wood, November 17, 2015 @ 10:18 am

    Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to show consumers how great your customer service really is. Great post on combating black Friday masses!

  • Andrew Williams, November 20, 2015 @ 4:48 pm

    Don’t treat customers like
    haha that is awesome. What a little twerp.

  • Caz*, November 22, 2015 @ 9:38 pm

    “I would prefer to shop at a small business that doesn’t try to do the same thing as the big box stores.” THAT is an interesting subject! You should write a blog post about it 😉

  • Caz*, November 22, 2015 @ 9:38 pm

    Did you find that smaller businesses still had a lot of Black Friday deals?

  • Sarah Jane Dayley, November 23, 2015 @ 8:13 am

    Nothing like the bigger stores…more around and extra 10% off or B1G1 kind of thing. I’ve noticed that some shops on Etsy will do that kind of thing as well. 🙂

  • Robin Johnson, November 23, 2015 @ 9:57 am

    I’ll see what I can whip up (since, timeline wise, it would need to be posted this week, yeah?).

  • Caz*, November 29, 2015 @ 8:27 pm

    Always a fan of what you can whip up Robin! 🙂

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