Black Friday takes place on November 25th this year - little more than two weeks away. For retailers, it's time to get your marketing campaigns in order to ensure you're maximizing the opportunity and getting customers in the door or online visiting your website.
Here are ten promotional ideas guaranteed to drive sales.
1. Have Some Doorbusters
Black Friday is all about the sales so find a few "doorbusters" - hot items priced so low they're worth getting up early to purchase.
The greater the discount, the better the results - around half of consumers are only incited to respond to a sale when the discounts are 70% or more. Coupons are also terrific for emails, so use them as an incentive.
2. Think Mobile-first
Think of Black Friday as "Mobile Friday" because a large percentage of consumers will be on their phones looking for deals and locations. Mobile also plays a significant role in purchase behavior: More than 36% of orders placed on Black Friday last year came via a mobile device.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and that you're listed in local search directories, like Google My Business, to both be found online and on the street.
Also, ensure your site loads quickly. How fast your site loads will have an impact on how it ranks in search engines, so the faster, the better.
3. Market Through Email
Marketing through email is popular on Black Friday, yet one email marketing provider, Yesmail, says many retailers go about it the wrong way.
Yesmail research showed that one of the worst days to email shoppers during Thanksgiving week is on Black Friday, yet the greatest number of messages (more than a third) were sent on that day.
A better way, according to Yesmail, is to send "teaser" messages on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, followed by "deal" messages on Black Friday.
4. Test Your Website
If you plan to sell online during Black Friday (and why wouldn't you?), a tip from Practical Ecommerce - a resource for smaller e-commerce merchants - is to act as the customer and test the site to ensure it works as intended.
"Place a handful of test orders to make sure proper discounts - including discounted or free shipping offers - are applied," the site suggests. "Place orders using a credit card, as well as alternate payment methods, such as PayPal and Amazon Checkout. You're looking for any hiccups in shipping calculations, basket adjustments, and payment processing delays."
5. Offer Exclusive Deals, Contests via Social Media
Social networks are not always ideally suited to product sales, but Black Friday can be an exception to the rule - so long as you do it right.
Offer exclusive deals and discounts, free trials, coupons (to redeem at the store), and products that are only available on the social network.
Contests and sweepstakes can also incite enthusiasm and get fans and followers in the holiday shopping mood.
You can use a tool like Woobox to set up campaigns.
6. Host an In-store Scavenger Hunt
The folks at FiveStars, a loyalty marketing company, came up with a great idea - Host a Black Friday scavenger hunt in your store.
"Give shoppers an object, a menu item, or a short list of things to spot in your store," a FiveStars blog post said. "Have shoppers take a picture with their phone and show it to the cashier for a discount. You could also create a series of clues that lead customers to a hidden spot where they can find a stash of coupons."
7. Hold Sales Later in the Day
The big box stores always start their sales very early in the morning - some as early as midnight.
If you run a small business, why try and compete with them? Instead, hold your sales until later in the day (noon, for example) - you know, after people have had an opportunity to actually wake up. Your staff will thank you, too.
8. Partner With Area Small Businesses
If your store is located in proximity to others - in a strip mall, for example - partner up and offer sales store by store, to attract shoppers. This partnership can include events like the scavenger hunt mentioned in idea #6 above (in this case, customers have to go through each store),
Also, consider joint promotional opportunities where you split the cost of the ad campaign, or hold an outdoor family-oriented "block" party with music, door prizes, snacks, drinks, and games. Do face painting for the kids, hand out balloons, and give away grab bags filled with coupons. Make it a fun time that customers can't wait to attend.
9. Services Companies Can Get in the Act
Black Friday sales aren't limited to retailers. Services companies, such as plumbers, electricians, carpet cleaners, and others can get in the game by offering coupons and discounts like the one below.
10. Don't Wait for Black Friday
One last idea: Don't wait until Black Friday to start your promotions. Get ahead of the competition by offering sales earlier in the week, such as a "deal of the day" leading up to the big event, for example.
Even though Black Friday is looming, it's not too late to put at least a few of these ideas in play. Your business and bottom line will be better off for it.