Brace yourselves — Black Friday and Cyber Monday are approaching. For the past several years, the weekend following Thanksgiving has signaled the start of the annual holiday shopping rush.
If you’re a small business owner, you may be feeling a little intimidated or overwhelmed by the prospect. Many consumers now approach the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas as a shopping challenge to be won. But if they’re in search of the hottest deals, how on earth can your business compete with the big guys?
Luckily, there are plenty of ways that even small businesses can take advantage of the holiday shopping season. With a thoughtful marketing plan, you don’t have to miss out on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday buzz. Here are some ways for your small business to make the most of this lucrative new holiday tradition — without getting lost in the shuffle.
1. Start Your Preparations Early
A lot of people like to disparage the rapidly closing gap between the “Halloween season” and the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean those same people aren’t lining up for great deals as soon as the turkey is gone.
The sooner you start planning and putting your Black Friday/Cyber Monday strategy into effect (think October or even earlier), the more potential customers you’ll be able to reach. This means taking a close look at what worked and what you learned during last year’s sales. As a result, you’ll be able to develop an even more effective strategy for this year.
2. Remember That Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better
A lot of small business owners get intimidated by what big chains advertise to get shoppers lining up before sunrise. How can you compete with the sometimes ridiculous deals that larger retail chains are able to offer? You’ll probably find the answer to this question to be a little comforting — you don’t really have to.
The truth is, your small business is unlikely to be able to match the low-priced deals offered by big box stores or online outlets. What you can do, however, is offer smarter deals on the products or services that make your small business special. If you’ve got it, take a look at your CRM data — what were your biggest sellers last holiday season? What did customers keep coming back for throughout the year? Being a small business allows you to be unique. Stand out from the big stores by appealing directly to your loyal customers and promoting the things you’re known for.
3. Get On Board with Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is a fairly new addition to the holiday shopping season. It was put into motion by American Express in 2010 and has been gaining ground ever since.
Encourage local consumers to “shop small” by taking advantage of some pretty impressive advertising freebies provided by American Express. These include signs, posters, email templates, web badges and more. The more you can get the word out about your business, the more likely it is that potential customers will keep you in mind as they plan their shopping strategy.
4. Step Up Your Email Marketing Campaigns
If you aren’t already using email marketing to connect with your customer base, there’s no better time to start. In the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, customers are truly paying attention to alerts about upcoming deals.
Take advantage of the email campaign tools in your CRM to let shoppers know about your upcoming holiday deals. Scheduling these campaigns in advance ensures that you can focus purely on selling during the actual shopping chaos. Your CRM also contains plenty of data about your customers, so use it to create targeted mailing lists. By tailoring your email blasts to match recipients’ preferences, you’ll increase your likelihood of generating repeat business.
5. Give Early Bird Shoppers a Place to Go First
In 2017, the popular deal discovery website RetailMeNot conducted a survey which revealed some enlightening facts. More than half (54%) of the shoppers who participated admitted that they intended to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday the following year.
In light of this trend, consider offering a few pre-Thanksgiving deals aimed at those early birds. To add an air of exclusivity, send a special offer to just those customers who made purchases during your Black Friday sale last year. Be creative and use what you know about your customers to decide what this offer should be. Examples include an online discount code or an invite-only “loyal customer” event with refreshments and exclusive deals.
6. Target Your Leads
In the months leading up to Thanksgiving, make it a priority to generate a list of qualified leads. There are many strategies you can use to acquire leads for your small business, with varying levels of investment required. One of the most common (and perhaps most effective) options is to create a persuasive landing page on your website, complete with a web-to-lead form. Then, you can drive traffic to that page using targeted advertising.
Once you have a list of leads to work with, use Black Friday and Cyber Monday as an opportunity to target them with special offers and “new customer” discounts. Shopping will be on many people’s minds during this time of year, making it an especially effective time to convert leads into paying customers.
7. Put Data to Work for Your Business
Customer data is extraordinarily important for businesses of all sizes. Yet it’s something that many small businesses tend to overlook. If you build your Black Friday/Cyber Monday marketing strategy around quality data, though, it’s sure to be much more effective.
Rely on what you already know about your customer base using your CRM data, including demographics, preferences, and past purchases. Determine what worked and what didn’t in previous years, which customers will be most receptive to your holiday promotions, and more. Then, use these insights to inform every aspect of your marketing strategy, from email campaigns to social media posts to personalized reach-outs.
Hopefully, you’ve found something in this list that inspired you to step up your marketing strategy for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and don’t forget Small Business Saturday!). With the right approach, the holiday shopping season can be hugely beneficial to small and large companies alike — and small business owners shouldn’t be afraid to cash in on the potential rewards.