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My Black Friday shopping shenanigans started about 15 years ago when we were all sitting around the Thanksgiving table checking out the sale flyers from the newspaper. We were chuckling about all the crazy people that go out on Black Friday and how horrible it must be and how we would never do that. I’m not exactly sure how it went down, but somehow I ended up in a McDonald’s parking lot at 5 am the next morning waiting for the drive-thru to open and my family to arrive, so we could try this whole Black Friday thing out.
The rest is history. We’ve been doing the Black Friday run for so long, it’s just what we do now. My personal Black Friday experience has morphed a bit since then. Now, I meet up with my bestie, and we meander around stores. We typically don’t have a long list of things we want to get. It’s more for the opportunity to hang out with each other with no kids, because they’re all sleeping at home with the hubbies. And with 4 kids, there’s always some new thing that they want. So we usually grab a toy or three while they’re cheap.
When I got started in direct sales, I quickly saw a shift in my Black Friday behavior. I started to become aware of how much I wanted to support other small business owners, just like I wanted other people to support mine. The problem was and still is, that I had to seek out those small businesses to find the stuff I wanted. I didn’t see many small businesses, direct sellers in particular, marketing themselves for the biggest shopping day of the year. I might see a random Facebook post or a quick email or text, but it seemed like a shotgun approach and not very well thought out. They didn’t appear to have a plan at all.
I know we can do better. Direct sellers can and should be making themselves visible during this selling season, and I’ve got some tools to help you do that. I’m going to walk you through the dates you need to know, give you lots of Black Friday sale ideas, and some tips on how and where to promote your sale. At the end of the article, I’ve even got a free planner that you can grab to help you map out everything you need to do. So let’s dig in!
Dates you need know
- Black Friday – This is the most obvious one. It’s the Friday after Thanksgiving and marks the kick-off to the holiday shopping season. People market the heck out of this one and rightly so. For many years now, Black Friday has been the biggest sales day of the entire year for traditional retailers. In 2018, American shoppers spent over $717 billion on this day. Yeah, that’s BILLION, with a B!
- Small Business Saturday – This is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. American Express created this event to draw attention to shopping with small businesses. Traditionally, when people think of this day, they think of brick and mortar and mom and pop shops, not direct sellers. I’m thinkin’ we might need to change that.
- Cyber Monday – This day was created to bring attention to online shopping after the Black Friday rush. As online shopping has increased, this day become a no-brainer for most shoppers. Why fight the crowds when I can snag some deals in my pj’s? Am I right?
- Giving Tuesday – Created in 2012, this day was created as a day to encourage people to do good. It has turned into a global movement where people can get involved in their communities and give back. It seems appropriate following the craziness of the previous days. And while this isn’t a big shopping day, it might be worth considering adding in a giving component to your marketing plan. People love to give back, so it may be worth offering them the opportunity to do so! If you want more info about how you can get involved locally, check out the Giving Tuesday website for more details. https://www.givingtuesday.org
Decide on your sale type
First, let’s figure out what kind of sale you want to have. I can hear you now, “I want the kind of sale that sells stuff!” Friend, I hear you but there’s more than one way to sell your product, and I’m gonna load you up with ideas to help you get those creative juices flowing.
- Flat discount – This one’s pretty simple. You offer a flat % or $ off orders placed. If you have a higher commission rate, this could work well and still allow you to make something from the sale. If your commission rate is smaller, this one may not be a good plan. A flat discount could be offered on specific items you sell or on their total purchase. If you significantly discount a collection or specific type of item (like more than your commission rate), we would call that a “loss-leader”. You see this all the time in grocery stores. They offer an item at a cheap price knowing that you will grab several other things at full price while you’re shopping. Darn those cute end cap displays!
- Tiered Discount – Instead of just a flat discount on someone’s purchase, you could offer higher % or $ off the higher their total. Another twist on this one is the earlier they order, the higher their discount.
- Free shipping – We can thank Amazon Prime for creating that desire to get free shipping on EVERYTHING. (Even though with Amazon, we pay for the privilege to do so.) Depending on your shipping rates, this one would be a quick and easy thing to offer to your customers if they spend over a certain amount or purchase a specific item. Be careful on this one, because you don’t want to give away the farm. Make sure that you’re making enough on the product sale to cover the cost plus some of the free shipping that you’re offering.
- Gift with purchase – Who doesn’t like getting something extra for free? If you decide to go this route, make sure you offer something that’s super desirable as your freebie. If it’s a free gift that no one really wants, then you’re not going to sell anything. And again, do the math on this. Make sure you’re actually making a profit when you give away the free things.
- Multi-Day Sale – Some people see Black Friday as one and done. I disagree. I think there’s some merit in considering a multi-day shopping event for your customers. If you’re offering a discount on multiple collections or products, why not feature a few each day and spread the fun over the whole shopping weekend? If you keep the shopping event fun and engaging with some games or other things mixed in, you may be able to capture more people over the long haul. An extended-time period also allows people to join the fun late and still be able to snag a deal. A caution on this one – don’t extend TOO long because shoppers will procrastinate and never pull the trigger to actually buy.
- Timed Promotions – This one works almost like a flash sale or blue light special. Remember those from K-Mart? Basically, when the blue light (picture a blue police light) started flashing there was something being offered at a deep discount and it was a surprise. No one had any idea what was going to go on sale or when. You could run this one over multi-days offering different items at different times throughout the sale. You can offer limited quantities or let people grab as many as they want. When I ran flash sales within my customer group, it was pretty simple to snag something. I had limited quantities that I would offer at the discount and the first people to comment with “SOLD” got it at the discount. After the sale ends, you can send everyone their total and settle up.
- Bounce Back Discount – This type of offer has become increasingly popular with restaurant gift cards. I’ve even seen Barnes and Noble jump on this one. When you purchase a specific amount in product or gift cards, you get an additional discount or gift card to use at a later date. So you’re “bouncing back” to the retailer later to shop! This one is pretty simple and almost always guarantees some future shopping, even if it is at a discount.
- Product Bundles – I don’t know about you, but I get tired of making decisions, so I love it when someone will just bundle something up for me and tell me what to buy. Think about your product and all the ways that people would use them together this season. If you sell food-related products, are there items that pair well together for holiday baking? For cleaning products, what about a bundle of items to quickly clean my house before company comes? For you crafty people, what items do I need to knock out some quick and easy table decorations? Don’t even get me started on clothes! This is why capsule wardrobes work so well. Bundle me up something cute to wear for Christmas and I will love you forever!
We’ve covered a lot but we are nowhere close to being done planning for Black Friday. You can go ahead and download your free Black Friday Sales Planner from our Toolbox and then hop over to Part 2 – How to Create and Market Your Black Friday Sale in Direct Sales.