03 Nov How to Compete with Big Companies on Black Friday
This article was first published on November 3, 2017, and last updated in November 2019.
We’ve all seen them, either in real life or in the newspaper headlines- the hundreds of people camped out in front of stores before Black Friday sales begin.
Walmart, Target, Best Buy- these are stores that we associate with people pitching their tents on Black Friday. But why aren’t people camping in front of your small business?
For one thing, the trend of camping in front of stores to be first in line is getting less and less normal (which is good, because it was weird to begin with). That’s not because Black Friday and other holiday sales are becoming less popular. In fact, according to Practical Ecommerce, consumers spent more online in the U.S. during the five-day period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday than any other period in history. Black Friday alone saw a record $6.22 billion in e-commerce revenue, a 23.6 percent growth from the previous year.
The key words within these statistics are “online” and “e-commerce.” You see, people aren’t just skipping camping out at your small business, they’re not camping out at all; they’re shopping online.
Still, even online the competition between small business and big business is fierce, if not fiercer.
A strong marketing campaign for Black Friday can help. While I’m not saying you can put Wal-Mart out of business with the perfect campaign, I am saying that some planning will help you stand out and hold your own during one of the biggest business opportunities of the year.
BLACK-FRIDAY TACTICS EVERYONE CAN USE
Whether you are a small or big company, there are some basic tactics anyone can use for Black Friday weekend. Some are necessities and some are suggestions to help you go the extra mile.
- Email-marketing. If you don’t already have an email list, you can contact all of your former customers. These may be customers who have purchased something on your website, or customers who gave you their email while in-store. Make the subject catchy and to the point. For example, “Black Friday- 30% off everything!” or, “Free Gift with all Black Friday Sales!” Make your email sound urgent, and of course make sure the email is filled with appropriate links to the products you are promoting.
- Prioritize mobile friendliness. To give you another statistic to show how important this is, in 2018 mobile devices accounted for 33.5% of all sales made on Black Friday. Adobe Digital Insights reported a 33% increase in sales from the year before on mobile devices. This marks the first day in history smartphones accounted for over $2 billion in sales. Those are numbers that can’t be ignored. If you are going to stand a chance against big businesses, you need to ensure that your website and purchasing options are user-friendly. This means making sure that your website doesn’t crash or glitch when used on mobile devices. Keep things as simple as possible. The fewer clicks from clicking on an item to completing a purchase, the better. But most importantly, update your product pages. Give the consumer all the information they need to make a purchase decision.
- As always, use social media. You should be doing this no matter what time of the year it is but make sure you are advertising on social media. It is one of the best ways to reach your specific target market. Make sure to utilize hashtags such as #blackfriday, #blackfriday2019, or #sales. Promote specific products and sales, and keep things looking catchy. You may even want to run a Black Friday contest for the people following your accounts offering additional sales or free gifts. Come up with a content calendar well ahead of time to schedule posts.
- Have the right tools. There are so many tools that are going to help you do this easier. Tidio chat will help you set up a live chat on your website for customers. Shopify apps such as a “Free Shipping Bar” by Hextom, “Product Upsell” or “Product Discount” by Bold, and “Free Gifts” by Secomapp help get customers to the final checkout. Some other helpful tools include Wheelio or Zembula for gamification and interactive content, Hurrify for a countdown timer and Powr for a bit of all of the above. You don’t need to use all of these tools, but this step comes down to being prepared and organized so that things run smoothly.
- Use Google Analytics. Doing so will help you measure what you are doing right and what is less successful. That way you can continue to improve your campaign year by year.
- Offer a free gift. Because who doesn’t like free things? Online this may be a specialized product of yours, in-store this may be something as fun and similar as a balloon for kids. Think about what would attract your customers.
- Extend your sale. A recent trend is extending Black Friday sales to apply all week long. Sometimes a longer sale time isn’t announced until after the initial sale on Friday, to keep the urgency of the Friday sale but then offer one last chance.
- Add new products. Offer new products only available for purchase during your Black Friday sale. This will especially appeal to your regular customers.
- A gift-guide. According to Google reporting, 70% of consumers don’t know what they’re going to buy when they start shopping. A gift-guide such as “The Perfect Gift for Dad” can help guide customers to purchases they weren’t specifically looking for. You can have this guide available on your website, or in blog or print form.
- Offer mystery-savings. This can be scratch-off cards that show percentage savings, or spinning a wheel for a chance to win things like “an additional $5 off.” It’s simply fun!
- Holiday Specific Website. You can keep a page specifically for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday to help boost its SEO standing. For example, “yourbusiness.com/blackfriday.”
WHAT YOU HAVE THAT BIG COMPANIES DON’T
While the big companies may have bigger marketing allowances and a larger brand-name, you have some things that they don’t.
- A personal approach. Small businesses have the advantage of getting to know their customers. They can develop relationships that keep their customers loyal. Rewarding these loyal customers with extra discounts on Black Friday is a great way to say “thank you” and keep them coming back.
- You’re probably a local too. This is helpful for a lot of reasons. With local knowledge you can use lingo and specific advertising strategies that big businesses simply can’t do. You also probably have a greater idea of local advertising opportunities, such as smaller newspapers or magazines. You can team up with other local businesses, offering free advertising for each other or teaming up for events. While being careful to not take advantage of a customer, you may team up with a local organization in helping purchases go towards a cause.
- UVP. Your unique value proposition (UVP) is the special something that sets you apart from your competitors, including the big guys. This may be an actual product, or may be a service you can offer such as free-installation or guaranteed returns. There is something you offer that the big guys don’t or can’t. Find that, and advertise it.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Nowadays people aren’t finding it appealing or convenient to go to physical stores. Internet and mobile are the sources of choice. To really take advantage of Black Friday business opportunities, you will have to first take care of your website, social media accounts, and mobile accessibility.
You don’t have to be a huge business to do this. Play it smart, take cross-situational marketing techniques and scale them down and make them specific for your marketing strategy. People may not be camping out in front of your store, but I promise you that you will get some Black Friday attention of your own.