How to win at Black Friday and Small Business Saturday

At Fivestars, we’re all about helping small businesses triumph against their big-box competitors. As one of the biggest shopping events rolls around this year, we wanted to share our Black Friday game plan to inspire your marketing strategy.

The competition

Big box retailers go hard for Black Friday—and they start early. Typically, the big players will start their marketing the first week of November. Most, if not all, major retailers will be open on Thanksgiving, and they’ll be open extra early (as early as 5 a.m. in many cases).

So what can you do to compete? You probably don’t have large budgets for your marketing, or the bandwidth to slash prices as aggressively. The great news? You don’t need to. Big box retailers might own this one day, but you own the relationship with your customers long before—and after—this event is over. There are lots of things small businesses can do to stay relevant and keep sales brisk.

1. Get them in shopping mode

Customers are in shopping mode on Black Friday. Even if you can’t open early, consider keeping your business open on that day.

2. Start your marketing early

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, so it’s likely that your customers might not be around that week until after Black Friday. To make sure you stay top of mind, make sure you start your promotions and marketing early. The week before is a good window (11/12 – 11/17) but you might want to think about starting even sooner.

3. Take advantage of Small Business Saturday and Shop Small resources

There are lots of resources out there to help you plan and promote your Small Business Saturday, including plenty of swag to boot!

Promotions, promotions, promotions

The best way to stand up to the onslaught of Black Friday messaging from the corporate giants is to produce some thoughtful messaging of your own.

1. Customer appreciation month

Instead of limiting your campaign to the week before, start in the first week of November, and send weekly emails celebrating your customers. Not only will you inspire more visits, you’ll also be reminding your customers of the lasting relationship you’ve created, and make them feel good about supporting a local business. Some examples include:

  • Free gift with purchase
  • Buy one item get one free
  • 30% off [category of item]

Hint: You can use your Fivestars program to segment your list to win back some of your lapsed customers with a more aggressive promotion or give your VIPs something a little extra just to show your appreciation.

2. Early bird special

If you have the extra staff support, opening early on Black Friday is a great idea. Here are a couple ideas for early bird promotions:

  • 40% off entire purchase before 10 AM / 30% off the rest of the day
  • Extended hours: 30% off on purchase of $xx or more

Hint: Make sure to get the important details in the “What’s the occasion?” section when setting up your promotion. Eg. This early bird special starts on [date] and only lasts until Black Friday so come by ASAP.

3. Small Business Saturday special

Send a promotion to your most recent point earners that they can only redeem on Small Business Saturday.

Hint: When setting up your promotion, select Regulars, New, and VIPs. Those three groups will give you a great segment of recent point earners to send a promotion to for Small Business Saturday.

And that’s just to start! You might also want to check out this post on how small businesses can make the most of Small Business Saturday. Good luck, team small business!

Shruti Swamy
About the Author
Shruti Swamy

Shruti is a writer for Fivestars. She loves books, bikes, and cats, basically in that order.

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