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7 tips to get your business ready for Black Friday

Black Friday is on 26 November. For many companies, it's a time that's become a key date in the business calendar - a chance to reach new audiences and drive sales.

While Black Friday has traditionally been an opportunity for big online retailers to sweep up the sales, consumer trends towards local independents means that smaller businesses are increasingly benefiting too.

This is definitely the case for UKBF Legend Mr D. 'Love it. Lots of sales,' he says. 'The business is focused on basically Black Friday and the following three weeks. In the past, we have done 50% of annual turnover in that short time period.'

This kind of success story may seem surprising, but it's backed up by the data on national spending habits. According to research by Finder, Brits will spend an average of £275 on Black Friday this year.

So how can your business make the most of Black Friday? Here are our seven top tips to help you.

1. Know what you want to achieve

Before you embark on a host of discounted offers and special deals, stop and set your objectives. Do you want to:

  • Increase profits
  • Gain new customers
  • Shift certain types of stock
  • Increase website traffic
  • Boost customer loyalty
Understanding the objectives of your Black Friday activity allows you to prepare your promotions accordingly. Question each promotion to ensure it aligns with your main objective before you go ahead.

Discounting a product so heavily that you're selling at a loss won't align with an objective to increase profits, for example. But it might work if your objective is to increase website traffic and build your customer base.

2. Research and listen

The most successful campaigns offer customers exactly what they want. You can tap into your audience's mindset and get ahead of the game using a few simple tools.

Start with some social listening. Spend time reading what your customers are posting about on social media and follow the #blackfriday hashtag to spot any trends in what people are planning to buy.

Look at search data too. Internal searches on your website and popular rankings on your products or services pages indicate what people are shopping around for. Some simple searches on Google Adwords will also allow you to see if this marries up with wider national trends.

3. Build the anticipation

Research from Finder, which analyses Google Trends data, reveals that search interest in Black Friday sales is starting earlier each year.

Back in 2014, searches for the term 'Black Friday' started to increase seven weeks before the actual date in November.

Compare that to this year's data, when search interest had already started 12 weeks early, and it's easy to see why Black Friday has become more of a season of sales than the single day of discounts it used to be.

With only a week or two to go, you can still build anticipation for what's coming, and it's something to add to the marketing calendar for next year.

4. Plan your campaign

Even if you're only offering one discount for one day, it's worth creating and scheduling your social media posts and newsletters in advance.

Offering a few teasers in the run up to the date can help to boost your outcomes. Again, make sure these align with your objectives. For example:

To increase mailing list sign ups

A website pop-up encouraging people to sign up and be the first to hear about your exclusive Black Friday deals.

To increase reach and engagement on social media

Regular social media posts that countdown the days until the promotions go live.

To increase website traffic

A newsletter mailout to your regulars with a discount code they can use on your website on the day.

There are lots of ways to pique people's interest in advance. Look around at what approaches other companies are taking to get inspired.

5. Make sure your website can cope

As you might expect, a large proportion of Black Friday spending happens online. In fact, research shows that 44% of Black Friday shoppers say they will only shop online this year.

Capitalise on this if you can. Even if you're offering in-person deals, make these available to book online and promote them through your online channels for maximum reach.

It's also vital that your online platform can cope with a rise in sales. Test this ahead of time and map out a contingency plan if your systems fail.

6. Stock up in advance

Do you have enough stock to cope if your offers are a success? If you're not able to fulfill orders you risk looking unprofessional and losing customer loyalty.

Plan out your campaigns according to the stock (or time, if you're offering services) you have available. Make it clear if there's a limited supply in your marketing messages to avoid disappointment and build a sense of urgency.

For example, an exercise studio may be starting a new yoga course. The marketing message might read something like:

'We have ten spaces to fill on our new yoga course. Sign up on Black Friday and get the first class free!'

7. Stay true to your values

Black Friday isn't for everyone and UKBF Ace Trevor Andrews falls into this category.

'I just ignore it as another piece of American hype,' he says. 'We are a high street retailer with a website and just like to follow the John Lewis strategy of good value and fair prices.'

But even if Black Friday isn't right for your business or its customers, there could still be some mileage in using the event as a hook.

Patagonia famously did this back in 2011 with its anti-Black Friday campaign Don't buy this jacket. We're still talking about it 10 years later, proving that you don't have to agree with something to benefit from it.

This kind of approach can work well for small businesses too. Here are a couple of examples of how to turn it to your advantage:

  • If you run a beauty therapy business, send out messages offering sanctuary from Black Friday madness
  • Do you have an independent book shop? Why not encourage customers to come in and enjoy browsing through the real thing rather than taking a punt on something online?

What are you planning for Black Friday this year?

Is your business planning any promotions for Black Friday? Tell us in the comments below or join the Black Friday discussion on the forum.

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