The busiest shopping day of the year is finally here.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Black Friday intentions survey, consumers plan to spend an average of $554.90 during the Thanksgiving weekend, $207.30 of which will be on holiday gifts. Not everyone will be buying from their couch either. An estimated 71% of shoppers will visit a brick and mortar shopping center or mall.
Many retailers have been prepping for weeks, stocking up on inventory, buying ads, planning special events, and flooding social media with information.
But how to stand out from the crowd and be successful in drumming up business post-Thanksgiving?
Focus on loyal customers first.
Jurgen Nebelung, vice president of e-commerce and digital at Tea Forte, a luxury tea brand based in Concord, Mass., recommends “engaging your loyal customers first with exclusive online offers or in-store events.”
Retailers should use their knowledge on their loyal customers to create personalized campaigns that are likely to bring them in the door.
And according to Nebelung, since “loyal customers spend on average 67% more than new customers,” the return on any time and energy invested in getting them to shop will be much higher.
Offer an exclusive in-person event.
It is a little late to be announcing big public events, but retailers should consider limiting their event to their top clients, suggests Nebelung.
“You can offer a special in-store consultation from the experts, or even something as simple as wine and cheese while you shop.”
Inviting the big spenders to shop through higher discounts than those offered to the general public or special deal on Saturday and Sunday, so as not to compete with the big box stores that are focused so heavily on offering Friday sales, could heavily improve retailers’ sales.
Lure shoppers in with a “super exclusive” gift-with-purchase offer they can’t refuse.
Alicia Reisinger of Wax Buffalo Pure Soy Candle Co., an indie home and fragrance line in Lincoln, Neb., offers a “golden egg” only to her Black Friday customers.
“The idea is to get your lovelies to spend their money with you first. So offering up something they won’t be able to get again, and offering it for free with purchase, is a beautiful way to incentivize that doesn’t feel gross or pushed,” says Reisinger.
She alerts her insiders to this special offer via 1-2 extra emails before the big day.
Use the hashtag #BlackFriday.
Using this hashtag on relevant posts about retailers’ business on all the social media platforms help them bring information about their Black Friday deals to the fore, says Spencer X. Smith, an instructor in social media at the University of Wisconsin and Rutgers University.
“If a small business owner doesn’t use the hashtag in their posts, it doesn’t exist,” he cautions. In addition to using #BlackFriday”, search the #BlackFriday hashtag on the social media platforms where your customers are most likely to have conversations” says Smith. “Twitter search is outstanding for this, as is Instagram. Business owners can simply join conversations already given the appropriate #BlackFriday context.”
Finally, retailers should ask shoppers to share their experience with their business in a #BlackFriday-related post to their personal social media platforms, advises Smith. He suggest offering “an incentive, such as a bonus or promotional item to help these customers provide social proof to their network of friends.”
Make a game of it.
Many companies offer free shipping or a special discount on Black Friday, but Psychsoftpc, which sells high performance computers out of Quincy, Mass., wanted to be different.
On Friday, customers who know the secret code can earn a free pizza with purchase.
To find the secret code, shoppers have to scan social media.
Mike Risco Music Store, in Ossining, New York, drives traffic to the store through activities and incentives. “Since we are on a street with no walk-by traffic and no other destinations like restaurants, we have to get very creative with our Black Friday marketing,” says co-owner Miriam Risko.
For the music store, that means lots of activities.
While parents shop, kids can do crafts, get glitter tattoos, and drink hot chocolate from the hot chocolate bar. Parents and children can enjoy mini lessons on many of the instruments available for sale, “which really gets children and adults excited,” says Risko.
Everyone who sings a holiday karaoke song qualifies for 10% off their purchase and those who bring in a Christmas ornament for the tree also get a discount. “Perhaps our most fun is allowing customers to bring their pets into the store and take a free photo with Santa,” says Risko.
It is never too late for you to attract shoppers into your business this weekend.
Whether you have a physical or virtual storefront, leverage your social media connections, call your best customers, and make sure to spread the word of any in-store activities with the help of your shoppers.