Black Friday and the holiday season in general is often the most profitable time of year for many businesses. But, with so many businesses competing for those same shopping dollars and customers, how do you make your holiday offers stand out from the competition? Well, we have asked the fantastic CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their best Black Friday/holiday offer tips and advice. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.
You may notice similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Stand Out on Black Friday
In order for my small business to stand out on Black Friday, I would hold an event along with having a giant sale. By hosting a family fun event, I am able to attract consumers to my shop by offering something different. Every year, I try to do something unique and this year, I plan on hosting a scavenger hunt with coupons and free gifts. I give the consumers a positive and memorable experience that will benefit my business way beyond Black Friday. To stand out on Black Friday, you must be creative.
2. Do the Unthinkable
Among jading discounts and red tags, your store can stand out among giants by offering the unthinkable: free items and discounts all year round.
Instead of clearing your inventory out on Black Friday, launch an irresistible one-time offer for customers to become subscribers. Loyalty programs are going extinct and users are keenly aware of Black Friday gimmicks. You may be giving more than you'd ever thought to risk, but gaining lifetime loyalty and brand celebration in return.
3. Sell, Sell and Away
Identify two products in your store. The best seller (GOOD) and the one you would like to get rid of (BAD). Advertise the stock you would like to get rid of at its normal price and attach the best seller as free of charge or for a few cents, e.g., buy a BAD and enjoy a GOOD for free.
Jacob Singer of Regnis
4. No Stress Black Friday!
It is hard to believe that the November sales days are so near! We love Black Friday and all the excitement it brings. We also pride ourselves on better service & personal attention over the chain and big box stores. We even gift wrap for free. Customers love that. We have sales and promos planned for Small Biz Saturday and Cyber Monday, however, this year, we are doing our Black Friday BOGO sale a week before and having an Open House Party that night! That is how we do a no stress Black Friday!
5. First, Do This Marketing Math
When you are planning your advertising for the holiday season and all throughout the year... First, take a look at some very easy-to-use advertising math that can help all kinds of businesses make a lot more money starting immediately! The math is called "The Barrows Popularity Factor." It can help you determine the best way to spend your advertising budget and the math can help you increase your sales, increase your profit and decrease your risk.
6. Don't Delay, 24 Hr Discounts
Create a sense of urgency by using urgency header such as "Shop Today, Don’t Delay!" and then, offer varying discounts during the day. In 24 hours, you can do the following: for the first 3 hours, offer 75% off on select items, then for next 6 hours, offer 50% off, the next 6 hours, give 40% off and for the remaining increments of 9 hours, give 20%, then 15% and finally 10% off store-wide. Guarantee sold-out sales in one day if you are trying to get rid of select items. Everyone loves a sale.
7. Paint 1000 Words
The cliche is true: a picture paints a thousand words. A promotion with a photo that brings out emotions - love, humor, nostalgia - is much more effective. Investing in a great image is 100% worth it.
8. Use a Variety of Emails
Use a combination of graphic emails and plain emails. Send a plain/1-to-1 style email from the customer's Account Manager as a teaser before the sale, then 3 graphic emails over the course of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. You won't overwhelm the customer and you'll see a spike in open rates.
9. Don't Lose Out to Big Business
I work with a small retailer with a growing online business. To survive Black Friday (which previously led to a sharp reduction in sales in their business), we developed a “RED Friday” campaign (because red is the primary color of their brand scheme).
RED Friday is a unique way for this retailer to promote a positive sales incentive across their range of products for customers who subscribe to their loyalty program. It promotes their brand, while rewarding existing customers – a win-win.
10. Do a Giveaway
Even more than a discount, Black Friday shoppers are looking for freebies. Announce a product giveaway to build buzz, attract customers to your sale, and collect prospect contact information for post-shopping follow up.
11. A Faster Way to Check Out
This holiday season, do like Sam’s Club; they are giving families the gift of time with the launch of its Scan & Go mobile app. This free app allows members to use their smartphone to completely bypass the checkout lane at any Sam’s Club nationwide.
The Scan & Go app allows Sam’s Club members to scan as they go, pay from their phone, and then simply show a digital receipt as they leave.
12. Take Professional Photographs
If you are running a Black Friday or Cyber Monday promotion online, solid imagery will differentiate you and your product from all of your competitors. If you haven't already, schedule a photo and video shoot so that you can really make a great promotion this holiday season.
13. Offer an Unbelievable Offer
It is expensive to ship a bouquet of cookies. That being said, right after Thanksgiving, we offer free shipping on our cookies. It is the only time of the year we make such an offer. We know that consumers have a lot of options when it comes to Christmas and Holiday gifts, so we try and make our offer too hard to turn down.
14. Online-Storefront Synergy
We post pictures from our online shop onto our blog and make sure there are some specials that you can only get in the store and some that you can only get online. We want to be loyal to both of our customers.
Also, at our storefront, we offer free donuts on Black Friday. This has never let me (or my customers down).
15. Surprise With a Humorous Email
As an email evangelist, I always focus on what I can do with emails.
Naturally, the flood of emails doesn't stop just because it's the season; in fact, most of us are getting more emails. To positively surprise recipients, I send one "fun-no-work" email containing a tasteful holiday joke, before Thanksgiving and again before Christmas. I have had great success with this idea. Many people have told me, "THX, you just made my day."
It's a neat way to strengthen a business relationship.
16. Tap In To Bitcoin Black Friday
Last holiday season, we offered our services as part of "Bitcoin Black Friday". This takes place on Black Friday like the name suggests and is aimed at increasing the uptake of Bitcoin among merchants.
We offered Bitcoin payment for our services for the first ever time last Black Friday and received 7 new clients as a result - a total value of over $50,000! As a result, we've decided to take part again this year.
17. Provide Them an Escape
Holiday shopping can be stressful. Instead of trying to get people through your doors with sales, try to bring them in with what any stressful shopper would be looking for. Perhaps, you could have some apple cider, hot chocolate, and treats inside? Maybe even free chair massages? Something to get people through the door and then, hand out a card with discounts to people you see starting to shop.
Meredith Wood of Fundera
18. Easy Holiday Shopping
We choose a different gift-table item each year that is not currently found in other local shops. We then promote this item in a local magazine's gift guide section. Our choice of an easy to grab gift that represents our shop brings in a lot of customers that saw it in the gift guide. Holiday shopping can be overwhelming, especially for last minute shoppers, so focusing on one item in the guide helps those shoppers to really see the product, rather than feel bombarded by too many options.
19. Get Your Deal On Top
My best tip would be to create an offer that consumers cannot refuse. It has to be something that you have never offered before with your company. It is also important to post your offer on all social media sites and to even pay to make sure your offer is on the top of the list of offers. Make an eye catching offer that stands out with bright colors, a picture, and small verbiage.
20. Consistent Branding is Key!
If your business wants to rise above the competition this season, your holiday branding and campaign should be focused and consistent. Frame your marketing around what the products or services as gifts can do for other people, rather than what they can for the purchaser. Keep the message in all marketing efforts tied in with a common thread, so everything remains cohesive, rather than disjointed.
21. Don't Sell Your Sale!
Every retailer will be quacking the same song "Holidays! Sale! Holidays! Sale!" And may they fly south with the rest of the flock. Stand out. Sell the unique experience customers will enjoy at your location, storefront or online. Americans like to patronize places that remind them of other places or times back yonder. Why? We buy experiences. We buy feelings. And then, we buy stuff. What unique experience does your business provide? Put some thought into it and you may even surprise yourself.
22. Feature a Product of the Day
We offer up a daily holiday inspired 'product of the day' that is featured on enhanced landing pages, all of our social media channels, and our daily newsletter. We have 15 years experience so we know what resonates with shoppers and partners during this key selling time frame. Offering up great gift ideas allows us to rise above the noise to engage with shoppers and showcase items that are trending.
23. Leverage Social Proof to Boost
Since 90 percent of shoppers find online reviews more persuasive than a sales pitch, incorporate online and offline customer ratings, reviews and testimonials into the shopping experience. That would include embedded testimonials on product pages, as well as in-store, ideally on the shelf next to the associated product. Secondarily, be sure to clean up online reviews and ratings on sites like Yelp, as 89 percent of shoppers trust online reviews as much as friends and family.
24. Holly, Jolly Domain Extensions
With so many holiday promotions, meaningful domain extensions can help marketing campaigns stand out. Marketers can customize domain names either on the left or right of the dot, enabling extensions like .BLACKFRIDAY, .HOLIDAY, .SHOP, .STORE, or .SALE to be used in a variety of memorable combinations. A great example is Amazon.blackfriday. Registering a domain name and pointing it to a landing page can be done in minutes, ensuring customers are only one click away from potential conversion.
25. SEO Pages Holiday Terms
One of the best marketing tips for Black Friday and other holiday offers is to create unique (non-duplicated content) SEO focused pages for these events.
Most users will be searching for terms like "Black Friday (industry or product) deals"
After conducting keyword research with a tool like Google Keyword Planner, create a separate webpage for each holiday term that you want to rank for.
Make sure to create unique title tags, H1s, and a URL structure centered around your keyword(s).
26. The Art of Email Campaigns
This holiday season, master the art of email campaigns by segmenting your audience into unique groups to maximize the feeling of exclusivity.
As consumers, we want to feel individually valued. By addressing someone with copy, visuals, and offers specific to their spending habits at your company, they will feel as if they are being spoken to personally, and thus more likely to engage in business with you.
Whichever consumer you are targeting, be sure to customize every detail for them.
27. Team Up for BIG sales!
Last year to drive traffic to my business, I rented a professional video camera set up & taped 11 local businesses for Small Biz Saturday (including my own). My Mom, sister and I filmed me shopping at each small biz, highlighting great products & services from each small biz. I posted all the videos to my YouTube page(BodyworksBall), to the merchants social media pages & emailed all the videos to American Express OPEN. The cross promotion added biz & goodwill among all and was tremendous. And SALES!
28. Count Down Days!!
Consider implementing a series of discounts for the days leading up to Black Friday.
Each day, place a discount on certain items. This will put your entire product line in the spotlight. Save the really big discounts for the most popular items on Black Friday to help capitalize on the day.
It's a different twist to a very popular shopping trend that potential customers will most likely love.
29. Create Engaging Video
Black Friday has become an absolute sea of traditional advertising and in your face sales pitches. If you want to cut through the noise and truly shine, it's not complicated - create engaging video content and deploy it against a very specific target demographic through Facebook and Instagram Dark Posts. The key to this video content. Turn moms into your brand ambassadors by designing content that's going to resonate with them at such a high level emotionally that they'll want to share.
30. An Offer They Can't Refuse
*Make an Irresistible Offer *by including attractive free gifts with purchase. Partner with other local businesses to provide packages.
Selling TV's? Include a 1-year subscription to Netflix and a gift card to a local pizza shop.
Selling clothes? Include a gift certificate for a free stylist consultation.
Selling cars? Include a gift card for a year's worth of free oil changes and car washes.
Selling toys? Include a gift certificate for a free babysitting service.
31. Festive, Young, Targeted
Black Friday research shows that every year, more consumers say they're staying home. What they hate most in the stores? The crowds. What they like most? The ambiance (music and decorations). Based on a poll of thousands of US consumers, we suggest boosting in-store festivities and considering invitation-style promotions to pace the customer flow, particularly among valued return customers. Also, young shoppers are less fatigued from the yearly shopping grind, so they should be targeted.
32. Get Social, Gain Shoppers!
Retailers' Black Friday promotions will not optimally attract new business and competitively increase revenue unless they are touted on social media outlets, and only select social media outlets frequented by the retailer's targeted demographic. This action creates buzz and draws new business into your well-stocked and inviting premises. The rest is profit. Retailers who are not fully utilizing this avenue are missing out on increased revenues and ROI.
33. Cross Promote Digitally
My best Black Friday Marketing Tip is to leverage your social media and build an email list leading up to and during Black Friday. Know what your hashtags are, use Periscope or Facebook Live to engage. Make sure that your Pinterest page has a Black Friday Board with links in all image descriptions to the appropriate website page to purchase products or sign up to your email list.
Never engage prospects without building your email list. It is ideal to grow traffic you control.
34. More Sales, Less Costs
Consider Gift Certificates!
Recipients see Gift Certificates as money, discount coupons as ho-hum. GCs can be designed to achieve ANY objective and ANY business benefits. Distribution is targeted/controlled, costs are typically less than 'broad' media advertising. Sales generally exceed $4.00 for each redeemed dollar.
35. Holiday Email Marketing Tips
Black Friday and Cyber Monday might seem like the perfect days to send promotional emails, but small businesses should proceed with caution. With higher sending volume comes lower email open rates. Our advice to our customers is twofold. First, get a head start on your holiday campaigns by sending before the peak shopping days arrive. And second, be sure to write crisp, compelling subject lines to help stand out in the inbox.
Eric Gilbert of GoDaddy
36. Build Hype With Secret Promos
To compete with the big chain stores, your offer has to be unique. Start promoting a secret offer leading up to Black Friday & let shoppers know that a special deal will be released at a certain time. Use social media & email to hype up the exclusivity using a catchy hashtag. Limit access to the secret offer, such as the first 1k people who claim it get an exclusive discount code. Putting a spin on Black Friday deals catches shoppers' attention beyond simply "free shipping" or "% off" call outs.
37. Find Your Niche (Holiday)
Unless your Black Friday offer is so good that it will garner press on its own or your brand is so powerful you can easily make an offer go viral on social media, a better option is to re-frame the promotion towards the niche holidays of Green Monday and Small Business Saturday. There are many opportunities to get press and make sales on the niche holidays without the noise from big box retailers. Further, they're niche in name alone; both days generated over a billion dollars in sales in 2015.
38. The Black Friday Snail Mail
To all shoppers in the Brand's database, send across a snail mail – a completely black, glossy postcard with absolutely nothing written on it but for a rough patch which clearly indicates a scratchcard. This, when scratched, unmasks a curious domain name & a tagline which is the campaign name and tag of the Brand. This domain name when visited redirects to the BrandName.com/page with appropriate communication on offers and deals in sync with the black Friday snail mail campaign.
Pratik Shah of Grin
39. FREE Gift
My best holiday marketing tip for Black Friday and other holiday promotions is to offer a FREE gift with each purchase. As an online only shopping location, this seems to work really well to entice customers to browse the website and make a purchase.
40. Planning is Key
Planning is the most critical factor. No matter how out-of-the-box your idea may be, if you don't plan properly, it will flop. If you're thinking about holiday marketing ideas in October, you're already behind the game. You should map out your ideas and campaigns at the beginning of the year and no later than mid-year, so your team can focus on executing flawlessly.
41. Zig When Everybody Else Zags
Go against the crowd. Zig when everybody else zags.
Examples: REI--closed on Thanksgiving FRIDAY last year and this year, as well.
Chick-fil-a restaurants: never open on Sundays.
We have told our clients for years to consider branded gifts for employees or customers at Thanksgiving or New Years instead of Christmas time. Why? It's an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
BONUS: less worries about being PC (politically or religiously correct) by avoiding Christmas gifts.
Vickie MacFadden of PROMOrx
42. Dodge the Spam Box
Avoid getting lost in the Spam Box this holiday season by sending emails in MIME format and including both a plain text and HTML version. By taking an extra moment to prepare and send both email versions (in MIME format), you're ensuring that any contacts who cannot receive HTML emails still get the text version and are able to see your compelling offer. Skip this step and some recipients may end up just getting a blank email or a message with jumbled code.
43. Tell People You'll Be Closed
The best Black Friday marketing tip is to advertise and tell people why you'll be closed on Black Friday.
Sounds counter-intuitive, but since everyone else will be competing for Black Friday attention, the only way to rise above the noise is to say that you're not taking part.
Then, spin it towards how that connects to your brand or business, and market yourself that way.
It'll result in more interest, and more business, for you over any other approach.
44. Black Friday Crunch Time
One last minute, digital marketing tactic for the holiday season is a giveaway. Employ social media platforms to create a special Black Friday post about one of your best selling products. Tell a story about it. Share its value and how it serves the customer. Then, post it across all of your platforms to engage your audience. In order for customers to be eligible to win the giveaway, they must share that post with a special hashtag and tag you.
45. Timing is Everything
The holidays are busy, so we start early, in September.
We email a holiday gifting guide with discounts on our custom logo cookies, cakes and gift baskets along with case studies of past clients that have had successful corporate gifting campaigns.
It showcases our product line, advertises special offers, builds trust and provides practical advice to our B2B clients.
Don't just offer lower prices - show your customers why they should trust you by sharing secrets to help them succeed.
46. Low Price Guarantee
Offer a low price guarantee. This means if a customer finds one of your products at a different store for a lower price, match the offer. During Black Friday and the holidays, shoppers are inclined to look around for the
best deal. However, a low price guarantee policy can provide them with peace of mind and confidence that they are getting a good value and in many cases, they will stop their search for a lower price and buy even if your published price is not the lowest out there.
47. Play Super Secret Santa
Incorporate a Secret Santa option for customers. Let shoppers buy a gift for a complete stranger and get one in return. Allow them to fill in a few details, so they get something suitable and similarly priced to the one they've purchased for somebody else. Reddit uses this effectively and it creates a sense of intrigue and mystery at the same time as taking advantage of the goodwill of the period. Big names such as Bill Gates are endorsers and it can be a great tool for your business and clients.
Tieece Gordon of TWDG
48. Make it a Winning Gift!
Another Black Friday or Holiday Season offer generally joins my overloaded junk folder, simply overwhelming. The offer that catches my eye and makes me pause is one that caters to a deep need (not only price or coolness). I stress out as I know I'm expected to send gifts to my loved ones. There are simply too many details and unknowns for me to get it right. Focus on this service aspect by taking care of finding the recipient's address, size and even color! It sounds crazy but works!
49. Bright Spot on Black Friday
In 2014, email marketing made happen around 25% of the sales.
This trend continued with some deviations in 2015, and it is likely it will stay the same this year, as well.
Sending an email or two to possible customers and subscribers with good offers prior to Black Friday and other holidays is the way to go. Of course, this should be followed by another email the day before the holiday.
Use language that conveys urgency, do not shy away from using humor and possibly offer a free gift.
50. Use Direct Mail, Flyers
Your competition will be bombarding customers with email after email, so reach them the old-fashioned way- with direct mail or flyers. Make it eye-catching and bold, so that they absolutely have to read it before throwing it away. And then, make them an offer they can't refuse once they read it.
Do you have any Black Friday/holiday offer tips that weren’t included? Please share your thoughts below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!