Whatever you think of Black Friday, the consumer stats show that it cannot be ignored.  Here are some practical tips on how to make the most of Black Friday -  including what to offer, how to plan your event/sale and how to promote it to your audience.

If you want to listen to the podcast episode on this topic, click on the player at the top of the post (or subscribe to the Janet Murray Show on Apple - or wherever you listen to podcasts). Alternatively you can read the blog post below...
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  • What is Black Friday? (1:37)
  • How to market your business for Black Friday (even if you’re not a fan of the concept itself) (2:57)
  • Different types of offers you could try (4:50)
  • How to prepare for Black Friday (and start talking to your customers about it) (6:10)
  • What you should be doing during the promotion (8:20)

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving - traditionally the day that marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It started off in brick and mortar stores, but since marketers invented Cyber Monday (which happens a few days later), many online retailers run Black Friday promotions over three or four days. In fact, some are stringing it out for weeks at a time.

Why do some people hate Black Friday? 

With over 75% of UK retailers now offering promotions, and over 50% of the population planning to spend on Black Friday, through to Cyber Monday, it’s a trend that’s difficult to ignore. But if you are thinking about running a sale or promotion, it’s worth remembering that some people are opposed to Black Friday - generally because they feel it represents rampant consumerism and greed.

Does this mean you shouldn’t run Black Friday promotions?
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Not at all. In fact you could use it as a force for good.

For example, the clothing retailer FatFace doesn’t give discounts, but does donate to charity on Black Friday. Everlane, another clothing retailer, used to shut down its website on Black Friday - to make a point about the need for more thoughtful consumerism. Last year, staff decided to put the profits that they made on the day into improving conditions in their factories in China.

If you’re not keen on the idea of running a Black Friday promotion, you might consider doing something on Small Business Saturday instead (traditionally run on the first day of December) which is intended  to celebrate small, independent businesses and retailers. That way, you can encourage people to change their shopping habits (by shopping with independent businesses) as well as generate income for your business.

How to plan a Black Friday sale or promotion

If you have decided to host a Black Friday sale or offer, here’s a few ideas for what you could offer:

  • A discount on your products/services
  • A free gift with every order
  • A new/limited edition product
  • Buy one get one free (BOGOF)
  • A secret/surprise discount (like lastminute.com’s Secret Hotels)
  • Flexible returns (try before you buy)
  • Special deals for existing and previous customers
  • Upgrades for subscribers/regulars e.g. if you run a hair salon, you could offer a free head/shoulder massage or styling products with every booking
  • Create scarcity with a time-limited offer 
  • Free shipping

How to plan a Black Friday sale or promotion

It’s a good idea to start promoting your Black Friday offers and deals at least three or four weeks ahead. This doesn’t necessarily mean promoting your sale (people tend to have short memories) but you can start by having conversations with your followers/subscribers about what kind of offers they’d be interested in seeing as part of your Black Friday promotion. And if you suspect your customers/clients might be sensitive about Black Friday sales, ask them what they think - before you invest time and money in creating anything.

Getting started early will help you to create a waitlist of people who are interested in hearing about your Black Friday promotion/sale and you can even offer an additional incentive or bonus to those on your waiting list.

Preparing well in advance will also give you time to create content e.g. blog posts, social media posts, email marketing copy for your Black Friday promotion.  Thinking about some of the objections people might have to your products or services (or even a Black Friday sale itself) can be a great place to start.

Another thing you might want to consider is partnering with businesses that are closely aligned to yours. So let's say, for example, that you offer makeup lessons that people can give as a Christmas present. You could partner with a local hair salon to add in a bundle of hair products or maybe a free blow dry.  If you can pool your marketing efforts, you'll find it much easier to make sales.

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What to do during your Black Friday sale or promotion

It goes without saying that you should promote your Black Friday sale or promotion across all your social media channels - and email your list if you have one.

Pro tip: create different landing pages for different social media platforms e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook groups, Pinterest using software like Leadpages will allow you to measure which social media platforms are converting the best for you.

And don’t forget to use key hashtags like #BlackFriday2018 or #BlackFridayDeals to increase your exposure.

You might also like to use a countdown timer to show when particular deals or offers are ending. In fact, I've seen some Black Friday deals where they do hourly offers. So they might have a special price or a special freebie available, but it's only available for a couple of hours or one hour. Countdown timers can add a real sense of urgency.

Hosting an online event or party (on Facebook, Twitter or Zoom for example) and\or hosting a competition or a giveaway can also be a nice idea. Although not related to Black Friday, Jen Hamley's Facebook Live sales helped her generate £12k in sales in a week. 

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