A change in season can mean all sorts of things. For example, moving from summer to fall is often just a simple matter of flipping your inventory and refreshing your stock. As we head into holiday shopping, the change business owners face involves a lot more than just bringing forward fresh stock and replenishing best sellers!
For customers, the period between November 1 and Thursday the 23rd is a frenzy of earmarking emails and making lists of the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Business owners, are you ready?
If not, don’t fret! Here’s everything you need to know.
Editor’s note: Make sure your website hosting and security are up for the tide of incoming traffic (some of it potentially malicious) before the big day! Have a chat 24/7 with a GoDaddy Guide at +1 (866-938-1119).
Five steps to getting business-ready for the holidays
Step 1: Make a plan (and check it twice)
The first thing you’ll want to do to set yourself up for success is devise a plan for how you’ll set up the holiday shopping season for your customers (and any team members you might have on board).
Dates and timing will vary depending on your line of work, but there will be two in particular that you’ll want to jot down right away:
- Black Friday: November 24, 2023
- Cyber Monday: November 27, 2023
Once you’ve got those two dates circled, underlined and highlighted in a colour of your choosing on your calendar, you’ll be able to work backward from there to identify every significant milestone you’ll want to hit – from email marketing blasts to strategizing blitzes and more.
And speaking of strategizing …
Step 2: Carve out time to strategize
Now that you have an idea of what dates you’re aiming for, you’ll want to identify your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale items. This is a critical decision that your entire holiday marketing strategy will come to depend on. No pressure or anything! 😉
Spend a few days looking at your inventory and deciding which items you’d like to feature in your holiday sales and marketing plan. Consider current trends, and don’t forget to research your competitors’ actions!
Think about your last Black Friday and Cyber Monday experience: If you participated as a customer, reflect on what drew you to some retailers and not others. Apply these observations to your sales strategy.
Remember the current economic setting in which Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are taking place this year.
Both inflation and shrinkflation are top-of-mind for cash-strapped Canadians across the country. This means they may be a bit tighter with their wallets than usual — but will also be keen to save if the right deal strikes their fancy. Be sure to be the business to give it to them!
Not sure quite where to begin? Give these thought-starters a go:
Generic price reduction
This approach is among the simplest (and often most effective) and simply involves lowering the price of all goods – or a select division of goods – by a specified amount. For example, if you sell apparel, you could offer 50% off on all t-shirts.
Individual item reduction
This marketing tactic allows you to be more selective in your discounting by following a strategy that simply pinpoints individual items and adjusts their prices accordingly.
Drive sales and increase basket size by offering combination deals that allow customers to save more by purchasing specific items together. An example of combo reduction would be offering customers athletic socks at 25% off when they buy them together with a running shoe.
Your top 10
Everyone loves a good staff recommendation. This is a great option, particularly if you’re a small business and can’t afford to reduce prices. Instead of cutting into your margins with sales pricing, simply pick 10 items you want to feature – five for Black Friday and five for Cyber Monday sales – and offer free shipping or some other complementary offering to sweeten the deal.
There are plenty of ways to offer discounts while still making money – simply choose one that speaks to you, and you’ll be dashing toward record sales in no time!
Step 3: Deck the halls (of three specific platforms)
Whether you’re working with a budget or not, your holiday efforts (like all marketing endeavours) will be most impactful when dedicated and deliberate. To this end, you will want to focus on three specific spaces to spread the word about your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
Rather than trying to be everywhere, you may benefit from zeroing in on three critical areas of opportunity:
- Your website
- Email messaging
- Social media
If “your website” feels misplaced as the #1 item on that list, take a cue from the big man in red and check that list again!
Many small business owners overlook the selling power of their tried-and-true websites.
It’s your most powerful, personalized resource, not to mention the place that all your email and social media marketing campaigns should drive people to.
Not sure if your site’s up-to-snuff for the holidays? Get your digital digs in tip-top shape for Black Friday and beyond with these five simple steps today.
Step 4: Create compelling ads, posts and videos
You know what you’re selling. You’ve identified where you’ll be focusing your marketing energy. Now, you’re ready to create holly-jolly holiday content to help spread the word about your upcoming Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday sales.
Start with your website and work towards crafting a message that’s clear, concise and bound to connect with your audience. Remember again just how budget-conscious Canadians are right now and consider building your message around that simple universal experience.
As a basic example, you can take a moment to ask yourself, “Is this the biggest Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale we’ve ever hosted?” — and if the answer is “Yes,” well, then, lead with that
Once you’ve landed on a foundational message, you will want to bring the same elements – just worded slightly differently – to your email messaging, ads and social media posts.
Let your customers know they can get sale updates from you by providing their email addresses. As an added bonus, this will also grow your email list and feed into your email marketing strategy year-round. The more extensive the list, the more contacts you have for your winter holiday promotions (and beyond!).
You can even create extra anticipation for what’s around the corner by sharing a countdown to your big Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales announcement. This will give folks a reason to tune in, pay attention, and keep an eye out on your various digital channels heading into the holiday season. That’s attention that’s worth its weight in gold.
Promotional graphics are another space where you can make a splash heading into the holidays. Create two promotional images — one for Black Friday and another for Cyber Monday — to make the most of these big-selling days. Use this free tool to make them.
Here’s an example of how big-box retailer Sport Chek has called out their Black Friday deals in the past:
Finally, attention-grabbing write-ups will bring email and social media readers to your website to browse your sale offerings.
Remember that people tend to scan content quickly, so you’ll want to be sure your sales messaging is the bold centre of attention, like in the Sport Chek banner above.
Step 5: Set your schedule and launch your campaign!
To create a campaign schedule, ask yourself these three questions:
- How many emails will I send in the three critical weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
- How many social media posts am I going to publish during that period?
- How many paid social media ads do I want to run (if any)?
You’ll need to create fresh content for every piece of marketing (perhaps highlighting a different product in each). So once you decide how much content you’ll be creating, you can plug these into your schedule and plan accordingly.
For social media, be sure to use location-based hashtags. If you’re running ads, be specific when targeting your audience.
Remember, customers are already on the lookout for these deals. If you wait too long, they may have already decided to shop elsewhere.
Final thoughts heading into Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Just as with any other sale, it always takes a bit of planning to beat last year’s numbers. Remember to:
- Start planning your Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing strategy as soon as possible.
- Assess your inventory and decide what items you want to advertise.
- Decide where you want to invest your marketing cash — email blitzes, social media marketing or digital advertising.
- Create all of your articles, posts and videos (including your graphics) well before you need them and schedule each for distribution.
The more prepared you are for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the better your final numbers will be. Best of luck out there, business owners, and have a happy, successful holiday season!
Amanda Schewaga contributed to this post.