Black Friday: 3 Alternative Approaches to the Big Day

Black Friday has different connotations for everyone. For some, it’s waking in the dark of pre-dawn to elbow out fellow shoppers in pursuit of a $50 flatscreen TV or a Tickle Me Elmo doll, circa 1996. For others, it’s shopping online in a bathrobe while eating leftover turkey and cranberry sandwiches. Or maybe it’s avoiding the fuss entirely!

Regardless of how you feel personally, your small business needs a plan for the big day. You must filter through the many approaches and pick one that aligns your brand values and the reality of your business’ financial position.

Wondering about Black Friday for your business? Here are some approaches to consider:

1. Get in on the action with a special sales event

Craft a special deal that is significant enough to justify a customer’s trip into the store. If you decide to go this route, there are a few things to think about from the start.

  1. You need to make sure to build up your social media followers and email subscribers prior to the holiday. The more names you have, the more people who will hear about your special deal. Start now! You only have a few weeks.
  2. Make the deal time sensitive. Online sales are a different story, but for your in-store deal, make it valid for a short period to drive traffic in the door. 
  3. Studies show that incorporating exclusivity, personalization, and encouragement in your messaging fares better than a more demanding “Buy Now!” slogan. Make customers feel like you crafted the deal just for them.

2. Buck the trend altogether

Remember that brilliant, counter-cultural ploy by REI to embrace company values and close on Black Friday? Five years later, the campaign is still strong. Black Friday is canceled, says REI. There will be no ads or promotions, and they’ll be closed Thanksgiving and Black Friday so employees and customers can see family and #optoutside.

If this appeals to you, do it! Get the message out in a big way. The worst outcome would be upsetting customers that go to your store and find it closed, right? Put out emails, postcards, and in-store signage advertising your closure.

Make a catchy tagline and really get behind it. Play up the family message, the anti-shopping message, the turkey sleepiness message, or whatever message you think will resonate with customers! 

REI Co-op was one of the first retailers to put a serious effort into bucking the black friday trend with their “opt outside” campaign.

3. Do your own thing and get creative

This is just a list to get you started. Think outside the box!

  • Find a cause you care about and donate a portion of sales. A 2018 study found that 71% of people would spend more money at a small business if it supported a positive social or environmental cause. Not only will it help you connect with customers, you’ll help the greater good!
  • Have a food drive or clothing drive inside your store. Give discounts to customers who donate.
  • Scrap the whole deal-based marketing campaign and organize an event or competition instead
  • Organize a day of volunteering at a local shelter or cleaning up a public park. Provide pizza for any helpers.
  • Team up with other small businesses in your area to put together a big bash.
  • Make your store a huge party. People love parties! (they also love food)

Other things to consider when it comes to holiday sales…

Consider consumer financing…

Does your business offer consumer financing? If so, include this in your special deal. Customers often spend more freely during the holidays and an attractive financing offer can help make the choice that much easier for them. Make sure to clearly advertise your financing options to encourage those big ticket sales!

You don’t offer financing?

In-store financing is a proven tactic for reliably increasing your average transaction – and it’s just one of the many programs members use to boost profitability.

Request a Demo

Play to your strengths!

What are you the very best at? Does your store have a specific niche? A claim to fame?

Sometimes business owners get stuck following trends they see around them. Don’t fall into analysis paralysis and decision anxiety because you’re comparing yourself to your competitors too much. Make sure to center your campaigns around what makes your business unique. 

Incorporate Gift Cards into your Strategy 

Studies show gift cards are on the rise. Not only are more consumers buying gift cards, 33% say they will spend MORE on a gift card than a traditional gift. Consumers say they spend 55% of their gifting budget on gift cards, according to a survey by First Data

And get this – the average amount spent OVER the value of the gift card is $59. So not only are you getting the initial gift card business, you’re getting an extra $59 on average. That adds up!

Think about including gift cards as part of your Black Friday or Small Business Saturday deal.

“Spend $100, get a $10 gift card!” or something along those lines.

Small Business Saturday

Yes, it’s a holiday created by a credit card company. But it could benefit you – so jump on board!

Many small businesses ramp up advertising for this day. As business owners up and down main street are promoting the ideas of “Shop Small” and “Shop Local” you want to get in on that energy.

If You Have a Website – Focus on Cyber Week Performance

When is cyber week? From the monday before Thanksgiving to the Monday after. 

As for ecommerce…this season is basically the wild, wild west. Companies are extending Black Friday & Cyber Monday sale hours, discounting like mad, and outdoing themselves until they are frenzied and majorly sleep-deprived. 

Ecommerce sales figures are pretty hard to ignore. In 2018, Thanksgiving Day brought in $3.7 billion and Black Friday another $6.2 billion in sales (Forbes) This year, experts predict Black Friday sales will surpass $12 billion!

According to, 61% of shoppers plan to do most of their holiday shopping online. If you operate in the online space, you cannot ignore this 61%. Figure out how to appeal to those customers that want to shop online. One suggestion: jump on the free shipping bandwagon. Even if just for the holiday season, offering free shipping is a must.

Is a Black Friday deal right for you? If so, act now…

Depending on your business, a major Black Friday deal may or may not make sense for you. But in every scenario, it’s best for you to get the word out early. Build anticipation with your customer base. Get people excited. Your customers will respond to genuine messaging. So get out there and do what your business does best!

Pick up your profitability

In-store financing is a proven tactic for reliably increasing your average transaction – and it’s just one of the many programs members use to boost profitability.

Request a Demo