Black Friday is one of the most long-awaited moments for small businesses. In 2012, consumers spent $423 on average during the Thanksgiving weekend, or $59.1 billion total (a 13% increase from the previous year). This year, retailers will open their stores early to persuade Black Friday shoppers with attractive discounts and bundled services. Entire shopping communities are abuzz with ad-scan leaks, rumors, and analysis of Black Friday offers.
What about small businesses?
It’s not a fair fight for small businesses or entrepreneurs to face large companies or chain retailers that make Black Friday a success through steep discounting, aggressive marketing, and massive advertising budgets. Still, small businesses, too, can take advantages during Black Friday. The most important point to make Black Friday work for smaller businesses is to position on the value of their products and services while marketing creatively to consumers. It’s likely customers won’t spend Thanksgiving camping out at their front door, yet small businesses can increase sales and do it in a calculated, meaningful way. Here are seven simple marketing strategies for small businesses to win this year’s Black Friday:
1. Don’t heavily discount your products or services
It’s tempting to discount your products that have the highest margins. It’s actually not a good idea, since you won’t win against larger retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or Target. Instead, incorporate more value into what you are selling. A brilliant way to do it is to offer extra warranties or extend your guarantees. In the mind of the buyer, this reduces the risk involved in the purchase. When you set a monetary value to your actions, you will be able to give the impression of an attractive discount that other retailers simply can’t match.
2. Build a meaningful relationship with your customers
Think about the genuine, personalized marketing activities during Black Friday for a moment. There are almost no human-friendly activities during Black Friday, since everyone is so focused on shopping and price. The value of a personal relationship to both loyal customers and prospects is essential because you will have a better relationship with your customers. Think of it as a long term “investment”. Consequently, do something personal and friendly for your best prospects and customers. Consider a simple handwritten thank-you note wishing them a great Thanksgiving. Let them know that you appreciate their support during the holidays. Don’t make a sales attempt. Just be genuine to your prospects and customers, and you just might have hot leads show up to buy.
3. Use guerrilla marketing
You’re a small business. You have to be crafty and creative. Sometimes you need to take a few more risks than others. Do you sell cupcakes, coffee, baked goods? Head to your nearest Wal-Mart or Best Buy to hand out samples and provide a small flyer reminding people that they can buy from you after the Black Friday rush. No need to place flyers in the windows of people’s cars. Be friendly, genuine and try to make people’s day a little bit better. It could be even as simple as handing out free coffee or sample products to frenzied shoppers while you have your business cards on hand.
4. Be useful
Consumers will be receiving hundreds, if not thousands, of sales and marketing offers. By adopting the tactic of being useful, you can be on top of their mind and engaging while creating memorable experiences people will tell others about. Basically, by being useful, you are promoting your authority on the subject while building trust with your audience. Whether that means reporting on traffic jams in your local area, helping people choose between two similar products, or spotting the best deals for products and services your customers care about, you can absolutely add value while demonstrating your strengths.
5. Never aim for new customers
Never aim for customer acquisition. It will not worth your effort. Focus instead on the people who have already done business with you. Why? It’s easier to increase sales by marketing to customers who have previously purchased from you. How? Perform some analysis on your customers. Think about the ones who have spent the most or bought most frequently, or simply those who have been long-time supporters of your company. Send them a targeted, segmented email explaining that they are VIPs to your company and that you are happy to apply a “customer appreciation” discount or to offer an exclusive bundle to create more value. Your customers will have a sense of feeling rewarded, as though they’d earned a discount, which often translates into a repeat sale.
6. Harness social media and email marketing
You ought to use the social platforms that customers use, and email is social. People forward emails, share discount codes with friends, and even talk about specials with their friends. So craft a useful and engaging email marketing campaign to your customers and prospects. The better targeted (and therefore fewer recipients), the more personalized you can make your offers. Extra tips: be brief with your messages. Consumers don’t have enough time to read a 1,500 word email.
7. Don’t forget about search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is not something that will bring in droves of customers come Black Friday morning, but it will help your site stay visible during the overall holiday shopping season. Consumers often search for a product’s model number or features and do so with an intent. It means they are specifically looking for price or availability to purchase the given product or service in their local area. Google and Bing do their best to present timely and accurate information to their users. One such bit of information is structured data that is coded on the website. Some examples of structured data include product name, model number, features, price, location, reviews, ratings and more. That data is displayed in a special way within search results to promote the visibility of your website content.
Build relationships and strengthen your business on Black Friday
Black Friday, to many retailers, is about shortening their revenue gaps within a weekend. For smaller businesses, it’s about improving customer relationships and providing extra value. Since you’re in the business of developing strong relationships with customers, consider developing a robust customer lifecycle so every prospect is receiving follow-up, and every customer is being satisfied. That will make your Black Friday efforts last longer and provide more business value all year.