The clock is ticking towards the fabled “golden quarter” for businesses, when spending surges between the end of October and Christmas. And while the whole season promises an ever-increasing growth in shoppers, with some days in November up by 50% or more year on year, the impact of Black Friday still reigns supreme. Since a limp 2015 debut in the UK, British businesses have caught on and 2017 saw a 233% increase in shoppers compared to an average October day.
The mania around this and other events, like the closely-following Cyber Monday, present a real opportunity for businesses, from retail outlets to online stores, but even those outside of traditionally shopper-centric areas stand to benefit if they prepare correctly.
With this in mind, we’ve looked at a few ways that you can best use your resources and talents to prepare your business for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other big sales events.
Go the extra mile with your sale to make it a real event
With every store out there after a slice of the same pie, it’s tempting to think that putting extra effort in is a waste of time. In fact, if you can do the preparation to stand out, you’ll almost certainly reap the rewards. The aim is to turn your day into an unmissable event, one that provides a unique experience for your customers.
One way you might be able to do this is through partnering with related businesses. Gyms, sporting goods outlets, and health food stores can come together to offer packages that health-conscious customers will love. They’ll have everything they need to get fit all in one place. Equally, hotels and restaurants could take the chance to host or visit their producers and suppliers for mutual promotion and the chance to reach potential new customers.
If your industry is one where specialist knowledge could be a draw, consider whether you could give a talk or host a well-known speaker. This can be especially effective if you’re able to nab an influencer with a sizeable following who will share news of their talk with their own network, connecting you to a whole network of new leads and ramping up traffic. Securing such a prestigious speaker may not be easy, so building an email template to send out to a fair few possible targets may well be worthwhile, and remember to do this with as much time in advance as possible to ensure you get a spot in their diary.
Promote your sales event in advance
As mentioned above, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now just part of a whole season of busy retail activity, with shoppers reportedly starting earlier each year and sales figures staying high all the way through to Christmas and into the January sales. In fact, 40% of UK shoppers start buying for Christmas before Halloween, and 48% have finished by Black Friday. Not only are customers getting a head start on their holiday shopping, but they’re also putting in the hours to research the best deals as well. For this reason, you want to ensure that your event is on the radar now. Even if you don’t have all the specifics sorted, get some information online, on your social media channels, and in-store to build awareness of what’s to come.
Plan in advance
In order to have something to promote, you’ll have to have planned in advance too! Getting the structure of your event finalised will help prepare for peak times in your business. For instance, you might look at ordering in more stock or map out the additional shifts you’ll need - a simple task with a staff scheduling tool like Findmyshift. Once you’ve worked out the manpower supply that will meet the demand you event brings, you can then bring in extra cover by hiring students to bolster your workforce or hiring temporary staff when you need them.
Check out the big companies for ideas
While large corporations will spend tens of thousands on the planning and execution of the campaigns and events, most small businesses don’t have that luxury! But the advantages at your disposal as a small business are increased flexibility and freedom, allowing you to quickly put together and test out ideas to see what works. Test an imitation of a sales event run by a bigger company with just a few of your customers, and tweak it accordingly based on their feedback.
Give your sales event a personal touch
Another ace up the sleeve of small businesses, compared to larger ones, is that your people can be a key part of your story. Small businesses tend to have a warmer feel, especially if your employees can get to know your regular customers. Bringing these faces behind the brand to the fore can do wonders for your appeal.
Give your employees and your customers the chance to take centre stage and make an impression during your sales event. You could feature customer success stories on how they’ve benefited from your products or services, or have an employee talk about what your business means to them and why they’re so passionate about it.
Stress-test your event’s workflow in advance
For all the planning you can do, nothing can beat ensuring that your business can handle the strain come the time of a big sales event. Test employees on their roles and have a contingency plan for what could go wrong. Check stock levels and have to hand all the information that customers might want. Make sure any guests joining you know where they’re going and what you’re expecting of them.
If you’re running an e-commerce sale, consider whether your website and hosting service can handle the extra traffic. There are plenty of tools out there that will help you with performance testing of your site, and you may want to talk to your hosting provider to see if a temporary boost in capacity could see you through the event.
Whatever you decide to do for your small business’s big sales event, best of luck with its planning and execution - and remember, for Black Friday, now is the time to start!