For most businesses, Black Friday means massive price reductions, sales and promotions galore. However, many smaller businesses are working with razor-thin margins, especially in their first couple of years, and simply feel they cannot afford to run the risk of subverting their long-term pricing models.
Well, the good news is that price reductions aren’t the only way to gain consumer share. Instead, smaller businesses should focus on cutting through the fluff and creating the value-focused experiences consumers crave during the festive shopping season.
Check out our Hellopeter Black Friday tips for small businesses to extract maximum value this Black Friday.
For businesses with smaller paid media and engagement budgets and capabilities, focusing on their local community and consumer-catchment area will stretch their marketing buck.
Your local community is the lifeblood of your small business, and during Black Friday, the support and buy-in from the locals could be the difference between a successful or unprofitable festive shopping season.
Of course, you can't build rapport and community buy-in overnight. But throughout the year, there are many ways to prove your value to the community, including charity drives and getting involved with community projects.
In South Africa especially, there are numerous ways to get creative. With the local skills shortage, perhaps initiate a skill development or youth-mentorship programme for unemployed youths or recent graduates, or get in touch with your local councillor to find out exactly where the most pressing needs are.
Give back to your community, and when the festive shopping season rolls around, your community will give back to you! You can also offer locals special deals that only apply to them to give them more value.
One of the most relevant truisms for smaller businesses is that retaining an existing customer is far cheaper than attracting a new one.
So, when Black November rolls around, make sure you show some love to the customers who've had your back throughout the year.
You should ensure your existing customer base is fully aware of any specials or promotions you may be running well in advance, or even better, offer exclusive opportunities and deals for your loyal consumers.
Remember that your existing and regular customers can provide invaluable social proof with the right prompts and can act as your most valuable brand advocates.
Ensure your loyal customers' entire customer journey and experiences, from first contact to follow-up communications, are designed to delight, satisfy and retain.
Did you know that your younger (and most valuable) customer base, especially, is 60% more likely to end a phone call attempt if you don't answer timeously?
As more and more Black Friday and Black November business is conducted online or remotely, losing sales because you haven't optimised your processes should be your number one black swan.
Today's consumer is more sophisticated than ever and is very aware of the many purchasing choices the internet provides. As we've stated many times before, ensuring you provide an intuitive, fast and accessible online, remote and social media experience across your digital platforms is a non-negotiable this sales shopping season.
If necessary, hire a pricing specialist to work out precisely what you would need to spend in optimising your customer experience and communications and what revenue you would need to achieve over a given period of time to justify the expenditure and work towards a specific revenue goal.
During the week of Black Friday, consider offering spot deals and time-sensitive or stock-sensitive deals. This allows you to make real-time evaluations of how your Black Friday is going, which products are popular and which products need some incentives attached to sell.
This Flash Sale approach allows your business to be flexible in its pricing while chasing sales and conversions. Of course, one would need to be fully plugged into real-time data to pivot when necessary or when an opportunity presents itself.
Remember, well-executed flash sales can generate up to a 35% increase in revenue.
Message very clearly to your customer base (perhaps via social media) that further discounts and spot deals will be made available periodically throughout the day or week, and then send out notifications for each flash sale. This encourages interested shoppers to follow your social media pages and check in consistently, giving your business further opportunity to up-sell.
Most shoppers planning for expensive purchases during the festive discount season often plan their approach and budgets well in advance.
For smaller businesses who may not be able to afford to compete in the Black November marketing wars, starting early might just be the solution. For example, set up unobtrusive, targeted sales communications to give the head-start necessary to stay ahead of the game while offering more affordable paid media spend options.
Awareness is, of course, a key factor in your business's Black November success. Make sure all your potential customers are fully aware of the value you are offering while they're still in the planning phase of their festive shopping season.
Small businesses must avoid the generic approach to marketing, engagement and awareness for super-competitive periods like Black Friday and Black November.
Larger businesses do not have to take risks or embrace innovation because they more than make up for their generic marketing by scaling their reach and communications.
Smaller businesses who simply copy and paste their festive season campaigns, however, don't have the reach to get away with this and will get lost in a sea of individually-indistinguishable ads.
Do your research and figure out which approach the experts suggest, then tailor that approach to your specific context. For example, businesses with a largely younger customer base may consider deploying consumer-created content across their social and shopping site pages.
There's no more sure-fire way of losing sales than employing unqualified or untrained staff to handle the expected festive season rush.
Just think back to how often you've hung up on a sales consultant or walked out of a restaurant or store simply because of to bad service.
Now, multiply that potentially sales-ending frustration by a hundred, and you'll have a good idea of what your business can expect during Black November unless your team is capable, likeable, well-informed and customer-focused.
It goes without saying that you should optimise your hiring protocols, but even the most capable sales staff need occasional refresher training. Make sure your team has the knowledge and skills necessary to represent your brand positively, especially under the incredible festive shopping season pressure.
Check out how Hellopeter can help you convert sales this Black November and connect to sustainable growth