Truthfully, I’m hesitant to write this article. I have a hard time seeing the good in Black Friday. People get trampled by greedy shoppers. Family members who could be spending precious time together are independently scouring multiple stores for door-buster deals. And, the gratitude that we should be feeling at Thanksgiving seems to be pushed out the door as our society brings greed to the forefront.
So, why am I writing this? Well, I feel a duty to help small business owners navigate their way through this hectic time.
As entrepreneurs we get stuck in the middle of all the chaos. Big box retails and corporate competitors have large advertising budgets to showcase their offers. They have seemingly unlimited funds to market from all angles. Meanwhile, as we bootstrap our businesses, we’ve got to find a way to capitalize on the frenzy.
Here are a few personal thoughts and principles that must be understood:
- Loss Leaders – First, you must know what a loss leader is. A loss leader is a product or service that is sold at a loss (or given away completely) in order to get people in the door. Most door-buster items are sold as loss leaders. Why would a company purposefully lose money? Because they know that they’ll make money on subsequent purchases – either at the time of the original purchase, or later. The key here is that “they know”. Capitalizing on Black Friday with a loss leader product requires that you’ve done some work to figure out your conversion rate and average customer value on people who purchase your loss leader. You need to run some tests beforehand in order to know if the loss leader strategy will work for you. I’d suggest having some really compelling and interesting follow-up marketing that goes out to people who purchase your loss leader in order to get them to come back.
- Get Guerrilla – Hopefully you’ve read Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. In his book, Jay talks about using unorthodox tactics to get attention and drive sales. If you have a product or service that has mass appeal, there’s no one stopping you from taking advantage of the masses of people piled up in lines and traffic jams on the morning of Black Friday. For instance, you can take advantage of the sheer crowds at a Wal-Mart and buy them hot chocolate and hand out your flyers. Great way to get your message out there to a surprisingly patient crowd. Obviously, don’t get in trouble by soliciting in malls or other stores. But don’t neglect the fact there are plenty of cars piled up and lines of people in public places. The good thing is, you know they have money to spend and they are in buying mode.
- Go White on Friday – What I mean is, boycott. Advertise to your customers that you’ll be spending the day with your family because family is most important to you. Plus, if your product or service is as good as you say it is, it should be available for more than just a few hours one morning, right? Tell your customers that you’d rather spend time with your family, and you don’t want them to have to hassle with crowds and time limits and you’re making your offer available for all of the next week. Many people respond well to this type of “real” messaging. Just keep it real with your people and they’ll reward you for it.
What I really recommend is that you spend as much of the holiday season with your close friends and family. As entrepreneurs, we pour our hearts and souls into our businesses. Our families are often neglected — not because we want to neglect them — but because we’re trying to create a better life for them. When all is said and done, what will matter most are the relationships we built with our loved ones. Have a great holiday season!
[Image credit: muffet]