November is well underway, and Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are just around the corner. That means independent retailers and brands are bracing for the busiest shopping season of the year, which begins with advertised deals the day after Thanksgiving and continues into the weekend with a boost for local businesses on Small Business Saturday.
The National Retail Federation forecasts that in 2023, shoppers plan to spend about $875 on gifts, decorations, and other seasonal purchases. That’s $42 more than last year! Perhaps most importantly for independent retailers, 62% of shoppers say sales and promotions are even more important to them than in 2022. That’s saying a lot, considering that a record 196.7 million people shopped during the Black Friday weekend last year. U.S. consumers also spent an estimated $17.9 billion at independent retailers and restaurants last Small Business Saturday alone, according to a survey commissioned by American Express.
To help our community make the most of these upcoming shopping days, we’re sharing some of our best black Friday marketing ideas and tips to succeed this holiday season. This guide will help your small business prepare for a busy time and set yourself up for a successful end of year.
1. Get your promotions in place
There are several different types of Black Friday or Small Business Saturday promotions you might consider offering your customers. Common examples include buy-one-get-one-free deals, dollar-value discounts, percentage-based discounts, or free shipping. You can also offer promotions that help widen your audience by incentivizing current customers to refer a friend or share social media posts about your store in exchange for a discount.
To decide what’s best for your business, think about what you hope to achieve with your discounts. Are you hoping to grow your customer base? Are there particular products you want to highlight? You’ll also want to consider your audience. What’s most valuable to your customers? What promotions have been successful in the past?
Next, decide how long you want to run your promotion. You can create a unique promotion for one day only or offer seasonal savings that continue for a full week or month. Keep in mind that consumer behavior is shifting, and it’s becoming more common for businesses to offer longer-running promotions rather than limiting deals to one shopping weekend.
2. Prepare your website for the season
Online retail continues to grow in popularity year after year. In fact, FTI consulting recently predicted online sales will hit a new high of $1.14 trillion in 2023, 10% higher than in 2022.
With so many customers turning to e-commerce for their shopping needs, it’s important to make sure your website is up to date in time for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. This means updating your product and shipping details and making sure all information about promotions and holiday gifts is displayed prominently on your page. If you’ve curated holiday collections or gift guides this season, be sure they’re easy to find on your website.
Finally, make sure all contact information—including your brick-and-mortar location, business hours, social media handles, and customer service contact details—is updated.
3. Get your brick-and-mortar space ready
If you have a physical retail space, you’ll want to be prepared for increased foot traffic during these busy shopping events. Make sure you have enough staff on hand to offer excellent customer service and consider extending your hours for a few days or weeks during the holiday shopping season. You should also include dedicated signage in front of your store or in the window that highlights any promotions or incentives you’re offering.
In addition to promotions, it’s common for small businesses to offer in-store perks like free food, drinks, or gift-wrapping services to shoppers during special events like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. You can offer exclusive in-store-only discounts to entice shoppers to visit your store in person as well.
4. Spread the word about sales and promotions
Now is the time to use all your available marketing channels to let customers know about any special deals you’re offering or events you’re running. This means posting consistently about holiday promotions on your social media channels and sending a dedicated email campaign to alert subscribers of any ongoing deals.
This shopping season is also an opportune time to make some noise about your business in general. Consumers are turning to social media to discover new brands more than ever, so sharing a few extra posts about your business in November and December is worthwhile regardless of any sales or promotions you may be running. Use your social media accounts to talk about your founding story, the inspiration behind your business, what makes you unique, and what makes your products so exciting. If you’re participating in Small Business Saturday, remember to add your business to the Shop Small Map to get discovered by new customers and use the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday or #SBS on social media to connect with other small businesses around the country.
5. Build and strengthen customer relationships
Shopping events like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are a great time to strengthen your relationships with current customers and connect with new buyers. The best way to build new and positive customer relationships is by offering excellent customer service. You can do this by including special services like gift-wrapping options during the holidays, or by simply making sure extra staff is always on hand to keep up with customer questions. Providing accurate shipping information and consistent updates is also essential for great customer service, as unexpected delays and supply chain disruptions are always a possibility.
In addition, make sure your contact information is easy to find and consider offering a frequently asked questions page on your website. You may also consider offering an exclusive coupon to reward loyal customers for making repeat purchases and thank them for their continued business.
Lastly, be sure to find a way to keep in touch with any new customers you may bring in this holiday season. You can do this by offering an email sign-up sheet at the checkout counter of your shop, including a pop-up sign-up form to collect contact information from new customers on your website, and sharing social media handles and encouraging new customers to follow you.
Want more tips for holiday success? Check out our guide on how to set your brand apart this holiday season, learn to curate with confidence and fine-tune your inventory for the holidays, and head to our blog to read about the latest wholesale trends filling shelves this winter.