A Few Easy Steps to Preparing for Black Friday

What’s the number one asset a small business has over their giant retail competitors? The answer to that is essentially the same answer to this question: what should you be leveraging during the holiday shopping frenzy known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday? The answer is ‘you’. The business that you cultivated in your community, the jobs you provided in your region, the unique services or products you provide that make life better for your neighbors – these are all traits that can create loyalty with your customers. And believe it or not, loyalty can be stronger than convenience.

An estimated $7.9 billion was spent on Black Friday alone in 2017 – a record-setting day and almost an 18 percent increase year over year from 2016, according to a report from Adobe Analytics. So anyone who says Black Friday is dead is jumping the gun a little bit.

An estimated 43 percent of American adults shopped small on Small Business Saturday in 2017.

My opinion is that it’s incredibly difficult to compete with huge slashes in prices and big marketing campaigns offered by larger companies, so use your strengths that they don’t have. Small Business Saturday is the best tool for that holiday shopping weekend. A study by the National Federation of Independent Business states about 43 percent of American adults spent money at a small business on Saturday, November 25 in 2017, according to Business Wire. I would focus more on Small Business Saturday, but I also wouldn’t ignore Black Friday or Cyber Monday either.

Those one or two days a year shouldn’t make or break your bottom line. But attracting these holiday shoppers on one of the busiest weekends of the year can make a huge impact as you dive deeper into Q4. Below, I pinpoint some important don’ts when it comes Black Friday practices for your business.

Don’t Compete Head to Head with the Giant Retailers – Some say small businesses shouldn’t compete with the big box stores that can strike massive discounts – often way too big for a SMB to compete with. You can certainly still put out sales and discounts (it’s said holiday deals should discount by at least 25% to have a real effect), but don’t try to go head-to-head with the Goliath to your David.

Don’t Rely Only on Traditional Media – We are in an age where there is a relatively even split between online and in-store shoppers on Black Friday. PracticalEcommerce reports, “Approximately 58 million people chose to do their shopping online only, versus roughly 51 million at physical stores only [from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday in 2017]”. You can utilize physical signage and traditional media but also don’t skimp on digital marketing, which Office Depot offers services in. Since it’s still early, blogging (and getting your blogs on websites with higher domain rankings) could do wonders for your business – at little cost.

A few ideas include live streaming deals, events, and fun behind-the-scenes videos for your audience to enjoy to bolster social media activity and exposure. If your content provides value (ie; educational, inspiring, entertaining, community-oriented, etc.), your audience will remember that and your brand will come to mind more often – especially if you’re publishing content consistently. For an example, check out Office Depot’s #BackToSchoolProud live stream campaign on Facebook with each video garnering over 50,000 views.

Don’t Go It Alone – Thinking other local businesses are your biggest competitors during Black Friday weekend may not do you any good. A lot of cities and towns celebrate their small businesses with block parties on the main street, concerts – essentially businesses who flourish on Thanksgiving weekend are the ones who band together.

Start creative partnerships with other local businesses that complement yours and vice versa. That way families can make a day of it. Remember, your business can offer an experience that no Ecommerce website can. If you connect with your customers, they’ll appreciate and remember it.

Focus on Customer Service, Not the Sale – Crazy advice, right? Hear me out though. Making a sale is always great, but you’re not in the business to make one sale. You’re in the business of making people happy and creating a loyal customer base. Make sure all of your associates are brushed up on your customer service policies and are light-hearted in general.

Don’t Fall Behind (Ecommerce) – As mentioned above, there were more Americans who shopped exclusively online than there were in-store. While the numbers are close, it would be naïve to think your business wouldn’t benefit greatly from operating an ecommerce website. Not only is Cyber Monday the busiest day for online shopping of the year ($6.59 billion in 2017), the numbers for online sales continue to grow on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and through the rest of the holiday season. Is your website ecommerce-ready? And is your website mobile friendly? The Balance reports 40 percent of last year’s online sales over the 4-day weekend were mobile purchases.

There’s still time to plan and execute your holiday strategies, but it’s time to get going now. Be sure to check out Office Depot for business services that could save you stress, time and money. Go in-store or online today!

Too busy to get everything done in the 4th quarter? Office Depot can do your bookkeeping among many other services to save you time.



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