(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

Cash in on the Chaos

It’s time to get a head start on your Black Friday plan

Back Web Only Oct 30, 2015 By Kelly Azevedo

Whether or not your business is in retail products, you can make the most of this momentum to promote your company and offer special promotions to existing customers and leads — making your last quarter more profitable and less stressful.

Fall is fully underway, which means Black Friday is right around the corner. Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday shopping season that leads to amazing sales for retailers and extends through the weekend to Cyber Monday.

Whether or not your business is in retail products, this momentum can boost your company’s profile. It’s a good time to offer special promotions to existing customers and leads — making your last quarter more profitable and less stressful.

Here are 3 steps to get you ready:

Step 1: Build Your List

A big part of promoting a Black Friday sale is notifying interested parties of what they can expect and how to purchase. Ideally you have a list of leads whom you can email. Now is the time to review it and make any necessary additions.

If you’re new to email marketing, start with a low-cost service such as Mailchimp or Aweber to collect emails via your website, asking customers for their contact information to keep in touch. Be aware that CAN-SPAM laws require you to gain permission from those you plan to email. Violating these rules can shut down your account, so do your research!

The tricky part is that no one wants more email. You need to offer something of value to entice potential subscribers. This can be a simple coupon, free report, training or exclusive access — it has to be compelling or your list with languish.

Action Step: Write down how many leads are on your list today and a goal for how many you’d like by Black Friday. Start promoting your free offer, sharing it with leads now to grow this database over the next few weeks.

Step 2: Plan Your Promotion

The most ineffective promotions, on Black Friday or otherwise, are ones that scream “last minute.” In order to grab the attention of your audience and ensure that they’re ready to buy, start with some research into your most popular offers and best sellers. Ask customers what they like and gather ideas for a deal you can execute.

Related: True client appreciation requires a year-round strategy

Common promotions might include free shipping, a bonus gift, one-time discount, bundle offer or special pricing for a specific time frame or number of sales (i.e. “the first 10 members receive…”).

After you’ve determined what you want to offer, you can create promotional marketing such as email announcements, website graphics, flyers, coupon codes, advertisements and social media posts.

Consider your audience as you’re planning — some offers work best for new customers and others for existing clients.

Action Step: Research and review your options for the best promotion you can offer. Finalize the details before November.

Step 3: Automate When Possible

One of the downsides to holiday promotions is that someone on staff inevitably ends up working over the holiday when they’d rather get time off. While some things might require hands-on help, the more you can automate and plan ahead, the less you’ll need to work later.

If your orders will be processed online, find out if your system allows for coupon codes to automatically expire. This way no one has to log in at midnight on Christmas Eve to change them. You should be able to set specific inventory so as to not oversell.

Write your promotional emails now. Scheduling them in advance will save you from the last minute rush.

Action Step: Make a list of the marketing materials you need to create and schedule time to finalize each piece before the week of Thanksgiving. You’ll feel so much better knowing the promotion is ready, and you can continue to make adjustments leading up to the release.

Black Friday feels like it’s months away, in the same way that 2015 just started last week. Time flies particularly fast when you’re running a business. Planning sales and marketing ahead of time will give you a stronger offer, less stress and better sales.

As a bonus, everything you create can be repurposed for next year and serve as the template for future promotions. Hint: Adding this process to your team wiki to make it easy to replicate.

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