The term Black Friday makes most people think of doorbuster deals, long lines at local department stores, and the news stories about extreme shoppers camping out the night before in a parking lot (or doing much, much worse) to get their hands on some discount items. But the name wasn’t coined as a reference to the doom that employees of retail stores might feel as the day approaches; it’s actually a reference to old-school, by-hand, accounting methods. A day’s sales that resulted in a loss for a business were recorded in red while a profit was recorded in black ink. When the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade began in 1924, the day after Thanksgiving became the official first day of holiday shopping season and many companies saw their records move from the red to the black as a result.
Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of Black Friday and start your holiday season right. Here are ten tips for making the most of Black Friday with your customers. Good Luck!
Ten Tips for Engaging Customers on Black Friday
- Watch and Listen to Customers on Social Media. Some businesses make the mistake of scheduling blasts to their followers on Black Friday, forgetting the most valuable aspect of social media: customer insight in real-time. Customers are going to be talking about the holiday items they are most excited about this season with their friends and family, and probably even talking about Black Friday events they loved or disliked. Prioritize your social media time to review this valuable content.
- Study Big Companies and Replicate on a Smaller Scale. Of course you shouldn’t try to be the next Amazon. But why not take a deep dive into what big companies like Amazon and Nordstrom do to find out more about why their customers are or aren’t responding to their promotions. Chances are that you can apply learned lessons to your own holiday strategy.
- Get Mobile. You might be tired of being told 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. Small businesses can benefit from mobile-optimized content too, but you don’t need to have a fully optimized mobile site or app. Start small; 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.
- Use Your Small Size to Your Advantage. In many ways, being a small business is an advantage during the holiday season. You can get personal and make your customers feel special in ways that big companies simply can’t compete with. Think of local events and traditions that you can incorporate into Black Friday, such as offering free tickets to the local holiday concert to all those who visit your store before noon. Is there something you could easily customize for your best customers, or those who shop during Black Friday? For example, if you run a bakery, perhaps all customers will receive a free cupcake with their name spelled in icing when they make a purchase.
- Brainstorm Engagement Tactics From a Customer’s Perspective. In order to come up with ways to really win your customers over, take some time to put yourself in their shoes. How can you meet the needs of your customers while also making other aspects of their holidays a little easier? Offering gift shopping assistance and inspiration is one way to help.
- Focus Your Small Budget On One Goal or Event. There are a lot of different ways to have an impact on Black Friday, but it would take a huge budget to be able to do all of them. Instead, decide what goal is most important to your business, and then choose the tactics that will help you achieve that goal. You will have more success devoting your energy and resources into one big event than spreading yourself too thin.
- Hire Local Help. Consider hiring students to help out during the holiday rush to support youth of community and increase word of mouth
- Spread the Word About Small Business Saturday. Started in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to shop local and small instead of spending all of their holiday money at huge retailers. Take advantage of this good press by creating a flyer or other hand-out advertising the benefits to customers. It’s a great way to support word-of-mouth!
- Keep a Countdown. Remember those Advent calendar that always pop up in Christmas movies or in christian churches and households? Make your own, localized version for your store or website to promote holiday excitement and remind customers of the kinds of special goods and services you offer. Have different spotlights each day. Make it personal!
- Have Fun! The best way to help customers enjoy their holidays is to help them have fun while they spend time with you. Take the sting out of waiting in long lines by hiring live entertainment during the busiest hours, or have some kind of in-store BINGO game or scavenger hunt they can complete while they wait. This will make your store even more memorable.