Going Solo: how your small business can benefit from Black Friday

7 min read
Thomas Costello

Black Friday is a great idea, right? It brings the traditional British Boxing Day Sale forward, so you can buy Christmas presents at discount prices! What’s not to love?

Black Friday began, of course, in the US. It’s the day after Thanksgiving (which is always the final Thursday in November) and is, one could argue, a holiday that is even more important to Americans than Christmas. So, Black Friday is their Boxing Day Sale!

It was Amazon who really brought the concept over here, starting in 2010 - but British retailers were not slow in cottoning-on.

Black Friday really hit its stride in 2013 and 2014 - when the news media was full of scenes of crowds of shoppers tussling over bargain televisions. Unsurprisingly, therefore, just as Black Friday became a national event, the backlash began!

Never-the-less, cooler heads have prevailed and, in 2018, we spent a massive £7 billion on Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday, and reports suggest that sales for that weekend across Europe were up a whopping 32% on 2017.

Black Friday - is it for your business?

Black Friday is perceived as something that the big online retailers do and, as such, it is drawing attention and revenue away from smaller online businesses and high street shops.

But this needn’t be the case at all. It can be just as much of an opportunity for small and solo businesses. Thanks to the work that the big boys have done, it’s a day when people are willing to spend big money on buying gifts.

So take the window of opportunity this offers to encourage your customers to make a statement with their wallet - by choosing to patronise a local, small business.

All of which explains why we think small entrepreneurial endeavours and solo businesses can get their foot in the door and benefit from some Black Friday action!

Black Friday - it is for you!

The way that a small company or an artisanal business can benefit from Black Friday is by being who you already are; don’t change the nature of your business for one day, because your long-term prospects will suffer if you do.

So, how do you go about getting your customers to make that choice?

Be honest:

Don’t pretend to be a stack-it-high-and-sell-it-cheap business if you’re not. And don’t pretend that you can suddenly afford to offer your bespoke handmade items at 50% discounts - because that will only damage your business after the sale is over: “If you could afford to sell it for £10 then, why should I pay £20 now?”

Be responsible:

Questions are being asked about the psychological damage the feeding-frenzy of Black Friday can cause. So, don’t be part of the problem.

Don’t focus everything around one day.
Don’t create a stress-inducing time limit, like a countdown clock.
Don’t force customers to make decisions they might later regret.
Do allow customers to return items they bought in haste.

In this way you can clearly demonstrate that you are caring for the financial and emotional well-being of your customers, in a way that the big box stores might not.

That is your point of difference and that is a distinction that your customers will appreciate.

Personalise your offers:

Offer those discounts you know your customers will respond to: personalised offers based on previous behaviour, such as: “You bought this; we thought you might like this companion item with a 30% discount”. Or, “We see that item has been in your basket since your last visit. How about a 25% discount on it?”

Build a community:

Data capture is the Holy Grail of online business. One way to encourage people to give you their all-important email address, is to offer some level of exclusiveness. ‘Members Only’ type offers and loyalty discounts are a great way of leveraging the potential lost revenue of a discount, with the promise of creating a loyal, repeat customer.

This is what Amazon does with its Prime Day offers, which reward members and create a sense of fomo (fear of missing out) among non-members. You can employ this same strategy on a more personal level, and create a genuine sense of community for your customers.

Think ahead:

Since people will be in a gift-buying mood, vouchers are always a safe bet! You could print these up as a physical gift card to be distributed by post or from your shop - or they could be entirely digital, in the form of a purchase code. Either way, offering a small Black Friday discount saves your customer money and allows them to be generous to their friends. This also ensures you’ll be getting new customers through your (virtual or physical) door in the new year.

Be optimised:

There were reports in 2018 of high street shops being deserted on Black Friday, as everyone stayed at home and shopped online. If true, this can be a phenomenal opportunity for small online businesses, all you have to do is use the same SEO tools every other online business uses. The internet can be a level playing field, using these tools.

If you’d like some pointers on the benefits of Search Engine Optimisation, there’s a user-friendly guide here.

Keep Black Friday local

If you have a shop - use those same SEO tools to encourage people to walk through your door by offering discounts that are only available in-shop and not online. It’s like using online to promote offline.

One of the USPs of many local businesses is that very localness. So, you could use that to turn Black Friday into a platform for an event. You could host a party, a demonstration, a consultation or a fashion show (depending on what you do) and offer discounts to the invited people who attend that. It’s a great form of face-to-face marketing, and it offers you the chance to upsell your customers on the additional goods and services you offer.

But, even if you can’t open up a pop-up shop or host an event in real life, you can still maximise the localness of your offerings. This is important for online businesses, because the search engines prioritise local shops. To benefit from that, you need to ensure that your website is locally optimised. We talk you through the various ways you can do that, here and here.

Do you have your location in your domain name? That could be a real selling point and, furthermore, it will really help you rank with the search engines. People are far more likely to click on your name in the search engine results if they’re looking for someone local and your location (which is also their location) is right there in your website address!

That’s a great way of counteracting the online dominance of the big boys on Black Friday, but it will also help your business year round!

We can help you find a full range of affordable local domains here.

Getting social

Amplify the reach of any deals you have on via your social channels. Create your offer. Add it to a page or products on your website. Grab the link and share on social. The offer could even be inclusive to followers on social media, therefore increasing the shareability or your content and encouraging new buyers to follow your page.

So, there you have it, a few ideas to help your solo or small business cash-in on the bonanza of Black Friday - and beyond.