For many U.S. retailers, the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping event of the year. As a small business, you may not be able to offer deep discounts like the big-box stores, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your share of Black Friday gold.
Here are nearly a dozen ways to get in on the action on Nov. 23:
1. Provide extra support and service. Small businesses have the advantage of being able to offer personal attention. People like low prices, but they also like to feel valued. Offer extended support, a no-hassle refund policy, and other assurances that reduce the possibility of buyer’s remorse.
2. Encourage gift card purchases. Eight out of 10 shoppers had gift cards on their holiday shopping lists last year. Why not get a piece of that business in 2012?
3. Offer free setup. If a computer, TV, or other item isn’t ready to go out of the box, make setting it up — at the store or the customer’s home — part of any Nov. 23 purchase.
4. Promote special deals for special customers. “Special” may mean anybody on your marketing email list. Send a coupon for an exclusive discount on Black Friday.
5. Place social media ads. During Thanksgiving weekend, many Americans are off work — and have more time to sit around and surf the web (vs. listen to that annoying relative for one more minute). Seize the opportunity to grab their attention by placing ads on Facebook and Google.
6. Help your customers shop. Remember that classic holiday movie, Miracle on 34th Street? Aside from proving the existence of Santa Claus, the film is remembered for inventing of one of the best sales tactics of all time: telling customers where to get what they need if you don’t have it. Your cheerful, helpful attitude will not be forgotten and will often even be rewarded.
7. Use hashtags. If you use Twitter for promotional purposes, remember to include hashtags in your tweets. #Blackfriday is the most popular. Apply this to all of your Twitter activities to drive potential customers to your store.
8. Bundle digital goods. Remember that TV you offered to set up? As a bonus, bundle a free ebook that teaches the customer how to optimize their new TV’s high-definition settings. Digital literature is inexpensive but adds value in the eyes of customers.
9. Hit the streets. Are thousands of people standing in line for hours outside of a big-box store in your area? Head over with a stack of coupons and pass them out. Check with the store’s owner first so that you don’t ruffle feathers or get thrown off the property for trespassing.
10. Offer a respite. Shopping on Black Friday is tiring. Offer free cookies, hot chocolate, and a place for shoppers to sit down and rest their weary bones (perhaps right next to your attractive gift card display).
11. Wait for it. It’s no secret that Black Friday may boost sales, quite possibly at the expense of profit margins. You know how it works: Shoppers who wait in line for hours overnight until a big-box store opens at 6 a.m. seek the lowest of the low in prices. If you open later, you may attract more customers who don’t expect you to give away your merchandise.