9.12 billion. That’s how much money Black Friday—the Friday after Thanksgiving—brought in for retailers in 2022.
With inflation and the rising cost of, well, everything, one might think that Black Friday is all talk, no shop. But don’t be fooled. Whether you sell products or services, your customers are hungry for deals… and Black Friday is the buffet of buys they’ve been waiting for.
To prepare you for the influx of customers and inquiries, impacts to inventory, and all the other opportunities that can come with every shopper’s favorite holiday, we’ve made a list of seven proactive and practical Black Friday tips for small-but-mighty businesses. Because let’s be honest—we all want a piece of the pie. And we’re not talking about the pumpkin kind. 🤑
Should a small business participate in Black Friday?
Black Friday is one for the books—literally. If you do it right, you could see a boost in the number of new and existing customers, and a huge jump in sales.
Historically, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. It dates back to a time when stores would operate at a loss for the entire year, but go “into the black” (aka earn a profit) the day after Thanksgiving when customers spent loads of money on discounted merchandise.
Today, Black Friday is bigger than ever. Customers mark it in their calendars, and sometimes, hold all of their purchases until that one big day. Which means that if you’re not participating in the mayhem, you might miss out on some big spending from ready-to-buy customers.
Now, we’re not saying you have to plan on a giant sale or take out a full-page ad in your local newspaper. Simply getting creative with your content or exploring new and engaging ways to connect with your customers and overall community can do just fine.
Keep reading for more on why you should participate in Black Friday, and how to do it in a way that makes the most sense for you.
Benefits of Black Friday for small businesses
The benefits of Black Friday can make any other shopping holiday green with envy. And we do mean green. Black Friday is a huge opportunity to boost sales. 💵
Along with the extra carts (metaphorically or literally) leaving your business, your business can experience an array of perks ranging from brand awareness to customer acquisition. Here’s what we mean:
Increase in sales
By launching new deals, you get the opportunity to bring customers to the shop—even if you’re not a brick and mortar location.
Any service or inventory-based shop can participate in Black Friday and enjoy the sales that come with it. And the more creative you are, the more chances you have at bringing in more bucks.
For example, let’s say you offer freelance writing services. You could promote exclusive Black Friday deals (maybe 20% off your most popular package) on Instagram, or host a bonus Black Friday contest for those who make a purchase.
The more you talk about your products, services, and their respective discounts, the more sales you can make.
Plus, not only do the deals you’re promoting bring in customers to your business, it also gives them the opportunity to spread the word and share their finds with their friends and followers, building your customer base for the holiday and everyday thereafter. But more on that below.
The acquisition of new customers
When people are searching for products that you happen to have in stock or services you happen to offer, participating in a sale can bring them right to your front door or your homepage. This can be an opportunity to show them what else you offer, creating a repeat customer and an opportunity to connect.
Pro Tip: Stay connected with your new customers by prompting them to leave their email address, then reward them with a special Black Friday coupon code.
Increased brand awareness
Getting out there with a Black Friday campaign is more than a chance to show folks what you have to offer, but also what your brand is made of. Consider branding your campaign to match the vibe of your business, or if it fits your mission, look at ways to engage other sectors of your community, like a campaign where proceeds go to a local charity.
Free up inventory
Out with the old, in with the new. By creating a Black Friday campaign, you can create space for new inventory. Consider a rule like “the older the item, the bigger the discount” or try a buy-one-get-one sale to clear out old stock.
Easier order fulfillment over the holidays
The holiday season is busy enough, but when you start shipping early, things feel a little less hectic. By organizing your inventory and sending out purchases earlier than normal, you’re avoiding the extra rush that typically comes later in the year when customers come in for their last-minute buys.
7 Black Friday tips for small businesses: How to get the most value out of the holiday
Now to the good stuff: How to bring in customers and boost your sales during Black Friday. Read on for seven simple ways to get the most value out of your Black Friday sales.
1. Plan early
This might not always be an option, but the earlier you can start planning, the better you’re equipped to handle the rush and set your business up for success.
Consider the fact that customers want to save money, which leads them to research—and lots of it.
They’ll be trying to hunt down the best deals and where to get them. That might be big brand names, but if you work on things like optimizing your listings and website ahead of time, you can compete with the big guys. And remember: Customers love supporting local, so consider yourself the David to their Goliath.
In addition to optimizations so customers can find you, you’ll want to plan to have top sellers in stock. Do your own research to see what people have bought in the past, what’s selling now, and what customers might come to your business in search of.
Pro tip: Other than a good deal, customers might not always know exactly what they want, so plan on promotions and marketing materials that highlight popular items or services, or the biggest deals you have on at the time.
2. Offer timely promotions and deals
Seems pretty obvious, right? Well, you’re right: it is. But we’re here to emphasize one part: timely.
Use Black Friday as a way for your business to get creative, cheeky, or even downright freaky with your promos. You never know what will get a click.
That said, keep your timely promos and deals in line with your brand and the services or products you’re selling. You’ll also want to make these deals exclusive to the day—whether that’s Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
3. Market your deals and promotions accordingly
Where are your customers? Where do you want them to be? Consider these questions when you’re finding ways to communicate your deals. That could be leveraging your social media to help boost online sales or sending email blasts to hit your subscription base.
You’ll also want to update your website so customers can clearly see what’s on sale.
4. Create connections with customers, the new and old
Your customers are part of the reason why you’re here. Their support helps you achieve your business goals, so thank them for it. During Black Friday, you could consider offering an extra discount to your email list subscribers, or send out a special promo code for your repeat customers.
For all customers, including the new, remember that a thank you can go a long way. Think about free gifts or thank you notes. Gratitude shines through the clutter of Black Friday.
5. Collaborate with other small businesses
Team work makes the dream work, especially on big days like Black Friday. Find businesses that you don’t directly compete with but that complement your brand and offering and explore partnerships, deals, or in-store experiences.
For example, if you’re a florist, you could collaborate with a ceramics artist to promote discounted bundles of flowers and vases.
The bottom line is that community is important, especially for entrepreneurs. So don’t be afraid to reach out or accept an invitation to collaborate. You never know what could be in store—hopefully, it’s sales.
6. Consider Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday promotions
You might be thinking, “But Black Friday is only for big box stores!”
That used to be the case, but not anymore. Today, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday have come into the mix to support small businesses.
So, if Black Friday isn’t your thing, jump on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, or promote both with a Black Friday deal. Trust us: customers love having three days of sales, especially when they know their money is going toward their favorite local businesses or freelancers.
7. Take advantage of deals for your own business
Your customers shouldn’t be the only ones shopping! Consider this day-of-deals a time to get what you’ve been putting off: home office supplies, a new website domain, business cards, hardware upgrades… the list goes on. And so do the deals.
Pro Tip: Keep all your receipts stored away safely (digitally, that is—not in a shoebox) for tax time with Wave’s mobile receipts feature.
How can small businesses prepare for Black Friday?
Black Friday comes quickly, which means preparation is key for success. Here are a few ways to get your business ready for the rush.
Analyze past sales data
What were sales like last year and the years before? Was the demand high on certain products or services and lower on others? Looking at the past can help you get ready for the future, making sure you’re prepared for what your customers are expecting.
Clear your calendar, and ask your employees to do the same
In anticipation for increased customer activity, you’ll want to be readily available during this time. Not only will you be needed for the increased demand of your services or products, you’ll need to deal with customer inquiries, DMs, and earlybird customers. If you have employees, ask them if they’re open for more shifts or longer hours. You’ll need all the help you can get.
Prepare for increased demand
Know what sells well? Up its stock before the big day comes, and make sure your schedule can handle an increased demand for your services. While things do sell better when they’re on sale, you might also have customers that held off their purchase of this item until it was discounted.
Before you go, remember: the earlier you start preparing, the smoother Black Friday and the holidays that follow will be. So get your teams, partnerships, promotions, and marketing in place, and watch those numbers add up.
Small business Black Friday FAQs
When should a business start promoting Black Friday?
If you can, plan for Black Friday and your promotions a few months beforehand. Think about stock, staff, and your own availability to deliver services, and how you might need more of each for the holiday.
While you don't have to start teasing out the deals that far in advance, you can start to plan and schedule your marketing and content prior to a few days before the shopping begins.
Didn't have time to plan but still want in on the sales? You know what they say: better late than never!
Does Black Friday actually help small businesses?
Yes! Black Friday is an optimal time for customers to get a head start on the season, which means that small businesses get a boost in sales. Not only is there an immediate benefit, but Black Friday also gives small businesses the chance to share their thanks with loyal customers via discounts, and bring in new ones with exclusive holiday deals.
What do customers usually purchase during Black Friday?
Black Friday is known for deals on big-ticket items like televisions and electronics, but that’s not all that customers are looking to buy. By joining in on the holiday, you can market your brand, products and services, and your promotions to a whole new set of customers.
Remember: people are looking for a deal–on anything and everything. And remember, if you’re looking to make some investments into your business this Black Friday, track your expenses and manage your receipts digitally in one place with Wave’s mobile receipts feature!
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.