Black Friday Countdown: 5 Ways SMEs Can Capitalise This November
From flat-screen TVs to kitchen appliances, Black Friday has come a long way since the post-Thanksgiving department store dash for cut-price electricals. Drastically slashing prices of high-ticket items for customers hungry for a bargain, it didn’t take long for the US sales bonanza to make its way back across pond. Now as one of the UK’s busiest shopping periods, retailers of all shapes and sizes – from brick-and-mortar stores to online-only brands – are conjuring up their own unique promotions to stand out from the crowd. But what role can small businesses really play over the Black Friday weekend, and how – in their own unique way – can they ever hope to compete? Here’s five tips for small businesses hoping to reap the benefits.
Ramp up your digital marketing
When it comes to Black Friday sales, don’t underestimate how serious your customers are about seeking that one-off bargain. Make it clear on your website and social channels that you will be taking part in Black Friday from now if you haven’t done so already, and invite intrigue by teasing your special offers a few days in advance; counting down to the big event can help garner interest, and you may wish to extend these limited deals across the weekend and into ‘Cyber Monday’. To create a sense of urgency, be clear in stating that these discounts are valid for a limited time only. For enhanced visibility, pay per click (PPC) advertising can also help you build a bigger campaign around the event, while helping you engage the most effective leads for your business.
Throw a party with fellow SMEs
Customers that shop local do so to support their community, so small businesses close to each other should consider the idea of banding together. As a united force, SMEs stand a much better chance of driving footfall on events like Black Friday by pushing promotions together and recommending each other by word of mouth or stocking their leaflets. To make an event of it, you could consider creating a unique hashtag for your campaign and display posters in the window; you may even wish to set up outside (if the weather allows) to greet people as they arrive. In addition, trading for extended hours on the day of the event while serving nibbles and drinks into the evening will make customers feel welcome and part of something special – something not all bigger brands are able to do.
Take control of your staff rota
While a Black Friday banner does most of the talking, SMEs that can count on their staff to assist in pushing the promotions stand the best chance of success; where small businesses are concerned, the personal touch will always go a long way. For this reason, ensure you enlist the help of the most reliable, ‘customer-facing’ staff on the day (offering overtime to any additional staff who may be interested). If you’re office-based or an online-only business, make sure you have enough staff to assist your efforts across the busy period – whether manning the phones or managing other customer service channels. As one of the most important sale periods of the year, staff organisation plays a huge part in the smooth running of the day, and is key to ensuring your business makes the right impact.
Offer meaningful discounts
Don’t be disheartened if you can’t offer the same level of discount as your high street/online competitors. Not only is it unrealistic to compete with bigger brands in this way, but it’s unlikely your customers will expect it. Instead, make your discounts meaningful by offering rewards or additional services when customers choose to buy from you that day. If you’re a café, why not treat visitors to a special bun with any hot drink, or an extra stamp on their loyalty card? Other businesses could consider offering extended consultation meetings free of charge, or a bumper package of services should they wish to purchase there and then. If your company supports a charity, why not donate a percentage of the proceedings from every product sold on Black Friday? Not only would that say a lot about you as a business, but it would also make customers feel good in the process.
Reward customers for their loyalty
In a busy world saturated with special offers and promotions (even more so on Black Friday), it can often prove tricky to convince shoppers/clients to choose your business over others. For this reason it’s crucial you reward your paying customers, using Black Friday to mark the start of an ongoing relationship – fostering future loyalty. It may be that you offer a special discount for next time (to encourage a repeat visit), or that you touch base a few weeks later – whether by telephone or email – to ensure your customer is enjoying their product, and whether there’s any further services/products they may be interested in. With Christmas around the corner, retailers could take the opportunity to invite ‘friends’ of the business for an evening of browsing and special offers to keep the momentum going – into 2020 and beyond.
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