It’s coming: The biggest retail shopping day of the year. Are you ready? This is an important question for any business, but especially for startups and companies in a rapid growth mode. Black Friday falls on November 27 this year, and now is the time to start preparing your digital marketing strategy to reach the most consumers with your special promotions.
Set Your Objectives and Form a Game Plan
First, take into account your target market and what they would most be interested in getting at a discount. Decide what kind of deal you’re going to offer, then make sure you have the inventory to support it. You can also choose backup deals in case you run out of your primary offerings sooner than you thought.
Once you have a list of promotions you want to run, choose a starting date for your Black Friday sale. Although it’s easy to assume Black Friday means *only* Black Friday, many retailers now open on Thanksgiving Day, and promotions often continue into Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year. Online businesses can start Black Friday sales any time they want. In 2019, Amazon began their sales at midnight of November 22.
Keep in mind that most businesses don’t have quite as much inventory as Amazon. If your supplies are limited, beginning on Thanksgiving or Black Friday may be a more realistic approach. However, you can start promoting ahead of time. One good tactic is to encourage your audience to sign up for your mailing list so they can be among the first to learn about your holiday specials. A day or two after the first wave of emails goes out, you can start posting your announcement on social media.
The Early Bird Doesn’t Always Get the Worm
People frequently line up outside larger retailers for Black Friday deals, but unless your business is already Walmart-sized, trying to compete with the big box stores for 4AM Black Friday customers may not be the best strategy. Instead, offer deals that start later in the day, once your audience has already scored what they want at the biggest chains. You may have offerings that were sold out at the bigger stores, or more unique gifts they just can’t find at a big box store. Letting your customers know that they can come in later and still get the best prices is a smart tactic.
Focus on Your Strengths
Time frames aside, focusing on your unique selling proposition—what sets you apart from competitors, big or small—is always important in digital branding. It’s even more critical in Black Friday promotions, when shoppers are being inundated with ads, and may have seen some items on sale at multiple stores. Here are some questions to consider:
What items do you offer that shoppers would have a hard time finding elsewhere?
Do you sell any local or handmade products or services?
Do you offer any one-of-a-kind or personalized items?
Even if there are other stores that sell the same items, can you offer a better deal in some way? If you can’t offer a better price, consider whether you can offer a unique bundle deal of some sort, throwing in extras for free or at an inexpensive price.
Consider Collaborating with Complementary Companies
At Digital Delane, we always encourage collaborations that we think will benefit both parties. In fact, we pride ourselves on creating a network that helps facilitate combined efforts to help both businesses. If we see an opportunity for one client to work with another, boosting exposure for both, we’ll suggest a collaboration.
You can do the same with other businesses for your Black Friday promotions. If you have a physical location, talk with other small business owners in the areas. For example, if you’re having a sale at your clothing boutique, you might be able to promote the store down the street that does custom embroidery on clothes. Maybe if someone makes a purchase at your Black Friday sale, they get a coupon for an extra ten percent off a custom embroidery like their monogram. Meanwhile, people getting customized items at the embroidery store get a coupon for an extra ten percent off clothes at your Black Friday sale.
If your business is solely online, you can team up with other online businesses without being limited by your geographical area. You can both cross-promote on your social media pages and other digital marketing efforts.
Offer Online Deals Leading Up to Black Friday
With or without a collaborative partner, there are a lot of fun opportunities to get your audience into the holiday shopping mood before the big day. While you might not have the resources to do a huge Amazon-sized promotion for a whole week, you can offer one sale item each day leading up to Black Friday, then do a blanket discount off the whole store, or have your best deals available on the big day.
To execute this strategy, you’ll want to focus your marketing efforts on improving both your social media reach and your email marketing list. Let your audience know that if they sign up for the mailing list or follow you on Instagram now, they’ll get a special offer every day leading up to Black Friday. Targeted ads on social media, Google, and other search engines can help support this effort. Need help with your advertising strategy? We at Digital Delane are always here to help with digital branding questions.
The great thing about this staggered promotion is that it not only increases sales in the short run, but also improves your mailing list or social media reach in the long run. You can take advantage of this in January, when sales have slowed but customers may still respond to clearance pricing deals.
Consider the Current Climate, and Have a Backup Plan
Every year has its challenges. This year, some people may not want to venture out into crowds due to social distancing concerns. Depending on your store’s location, there may wildfires, weather problems, or other local issues that could hamper people getting to your store. It’s important to keep these things in mind when planning your Black Friday sale. You may want to have both in-store deals in addition to special online sales for people who prefer to stay home. Or you could consider a gift card promotion. For example, maybe customers can buy $100 worth of gift cards from your store for $80, essentially getting $20 worth of merchandise free. They can buy the gift cards online, and use them on a less crowded day. The twenty percent discount will help offset the difference if they were hoping to take advantage of a sale price. Plus by shopping later, there will be less of a concern with the item they want selling out.
Having a contingency plan or alternate discount offer works even if you don’t anticipate any difficulties on the big day. Things can go wrong unexpectedly, and even if they don’t, many customers will appreciate having different options to save money at your store.
Focus on Branding
It’s easy to get caught up in the “Deals, deals, deals!” mentality of Black Friday sales. After all, every other business out there is doing it, right? And promoting special prices is totally fine, but don’t forget your branding. At Digital Delane, we focus on helping our clients differentiate themselves by establishing a unique, likable brand image. Think about ways you can do this with your Black Friday promotions. Are you promoting the products or services that best represent your brand? Will consumers immediately think of the mood and personality you want associated with your brand when they see your promotional materials? If not, you may want to consider a redesign to assure your branding is front and center. This will continue to serve you long after the Black Friday sale has ended.
Planning and executing a Black Friday strategy requires your attention right now. With a focus on customer needs and shifting sale models for holiday shopping, you can create promotions that will not only improve sales on Black Friday, but keep consumers coming back to your brand throughout the year.