BlackFriday_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

Quick: What do you picture when you hear “Black Friday?” Shoppers elbowing one another to score discounted TVs, socks, and other commodities in big box stores? With all the hype surrounding Black Friday, some smaller retailers might wonder if there’s a place for them. The short answer: Yes.


According to PwC’s 2016 Holiday Outlook, holiday spending is expected to increase 10 percent compared with the 2015 holiday season, and small retailers should make sure they’re prepared to get their share of the green on Black Friday. Since almost half of shoppers say they make their purchase decisions onsite, the key is to attract those customers to your store in the first place. Below are some tips from retail experts to make your Black Friday a success.


1. Reach out to loyal customers

‘Tis the season for giving thanks, so throw a gratitude party for your regular customers, their friends and family, suggests Jennifer Martin, a business coach and founder of Zest Business Consulting in San Francisco. If they are out on Black Friday anyway, you can offer your store as a port in the storm with warm drinks, snacks, and a quiet place to browse. Martin recommends sending out special offers prior to Black Friday to remind them you’re open and offer a discount or incentive to drive traffic.


BlackFriday_PQ.jpg2. Play to your strengths

You probably can’t beat many of the big box retailers on price, but you can beat them on service, says Jennifer Labit, founder and CEO of Cotton Babies in St. Louis, Mo. First and foremost, she makes sure her employees are trained and the store is stocked upand staffed up. “It’s an all-hands on deck day,” she says. “Most stores don’t have a sales associate available, period, so be there to steer customers and answer questions,” she advises.


3. Join forces

Partner with other local businesses in the area to cross-promote, suggests Martin. Consider offering a free gift to customers, but in someone else’s store. For example your shop might offer mini massages from the next-door spa, and they might have samples from your line of candies. You also could invite all the businesses in your area to have a special Friday evening open house and team up to promote it via social media and direct mail.


4. Maximize your online advertising

Consider optimizing your online marketing campaigns for local markets with targeted ads, suggests Sean Martin, content marketing manager at Directive Consulting, a Los Angeles-based digital agency. He recommends combing through your online pages and optimizing them for "Black Friday" keyword search entries so your site will pop up as people search on the go. You can also identify key hash tags that are in play surrounding Black Friday social media conversations and customize any online ads to include references to the Black Friday promotions and services you are offering.


5. Play your own game

“The best way to win the Black Friday combat zone is to promote a Black Tuesday,” says marketing consultant Mark Stevens. By getting a jump on the competition before the holiday even occurs you can siphon off some of those dollars beforehand. He recommends going big: Offer your best deals, secure a Black Tuesday-related URL, and spend a month's budget on Facebook advertising to promote it. Then, enjoy the day with your own friends and family, gearing up for the rest of the season.



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