Beyond Black Friday marketing

Editorial Team

5 min read
Group of gifts

It’s already November, and you know what that means: the holiday season is almost here. Traditionally, the holiday shopping season would kick off with Black Friday deals on the day after Thanksgiving. But these days, Black Friday and other themed shopping days sprawl across almost an entire week: major retailers start offering big discounts online and in stores on Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday is followed by Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.

Americans spend a lot of money throughout this Thanksgiving week. In 2018, 174 million people shopped between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, spending an average of $335 per person. Thanks to steep discounts from major retailers, people still tend to gravitate towards gadgets on Thanksgiving weekend, but toys are also big. Online and mobile shopping continue to grow: in 2018, the number of shoppers finding deals on Instagram and Pinterest grew 73% and 45%, respectively.

Big retailers pour a ton of money and effort into wooing shoppers for this holiday kickoff week. With a little planning, there’s no reason small businesses can’t scoop up profits from the shopping frenzy. Here are four general tips for approaching the week:

  1. Do one day well rather than trying to spread your marketing efforts across the whole week. (Read on for more specific tips for each themed day.)
  2. Include media outreach in your marketing plan—local media mentions can make a big difference.
  3. Don’t forget your email lists and social media. Retailers sent 3.5 billion emails on Black Friday last year, and 4.1 billion on Cyber Monday. Think about how you can reach customers who are sitting at home, spending time with family, as well as those who are out and about.
  4. Talk to other businesses on your block. Can you do a joint promotion or shopping event? Maybe you can all offer similar discounts on the same day, or create a treasure hunt for kids that takes families into every store on the block.

How do you promote Black Friday deals?

Shoppers think of Black Friday as a day of retail discounts. If you can’t offer 40 or 50% off on your core inventory, think about what promotions do make sense for your business. Can you bundle items together to move stale inventory or push a new product? This is also a great day to debut your holiday window displays and start offering holiday gift wrapping. Recent trends show a lot of people are shopping for themselves this weekend, so a ‘treat yourself’ theme could work well, too.

Remember that promotions are only successful if customers take advantage of them. And to do that, they have to know about them! Announce your specials at least two days in advance on social media and over email so that shoppers remember to take advantage of your specials. A reminder email on Friday morning is a good idea, too!

How can you promote your business on Small Business Saturday?

This is a great day to highlight what makes you different from the big-box stores. If your business targets a specific customer demographic, focus your efforts on Saturday shoppers who want to feel good about supporting a unique local business. Think about ways to highlight the depth of expertise your staff has to offer, the connections you have to the local community, or the story of the passion that made you launch your business.

There are also good Small Business Saturday ideas for restaurants or coffee shops to focus on, particularly if you know that other businesses in your area will be participating and drawing in extra foot traffic. Consider adding extra signage like a blackboard outside so that people out and about might wander inside.

How do people prepare for Cyber Monday?

Any business can participate in Cyber Monday: a restaurant can offer discounts for booking reservations online, a spa or salon can run a promotion for pre-booking appointments, and of course, retailers can offer discounts or free shipping on online orders. But with 4 billion retail emails flying around on a single day, you’ll want to think about ways to stand out with a unique theme or personal touch. If you’ve already been working on an online store or subscription service, Cyber Monday could be a great day to officially launch in time for the holiday shopping season.

If you’ve got ecommerce already up and running, now’s the time to test everything again—your site needs to be mobile-friendly. Make sure that if you have limited inventory, you don’t accept orders you can’t fulfill quickly. Any loyalty you might earn with great Cyber Monday deals will be lost if you can’t process the order in a timely manner.

How do you make the most of giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is all about giving to charitable causes, so for-profit businesses can’t benefit directly. Giving Tuesday is also a great time to talk up any charitable contributions your business makes. Could you offer space, supplies, or food to a local charity running a Giving Tuesday event? You could also choose to launch a new initiative on Giving Tuesday. Even something as simple as connecting to the Round Up for Schools app and encouraging shoppers to give a few cents to local public schools would be in the spirit of the day. But if you’re running a not-for-profit entity, this could be a great day to offer a discount for new customers or donors, or launch a promotion that highlights the good work you do.

Wrapping up

The holiday season is huge for any retail business, and there are ways for every business to participate in the themed days that kick off the season. Big-box retailers and their steep discounts may dominate the headlines on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but there are plenty of savvy shoppers out there looking for something a little different. With a little creativity and planning, your business can find ways to stand out in this crowded shopping season.

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