14 November 2019
It feels a little silly to call Black Friday a “day” as so many businesses start the holiday sale in the beginning of November (and run it all-month long).
That’s because there is a lot of opportunity to boost business and brand awareness with this major annual event – it’s hard not to get into the hype. However, on the flip side, small businesses might be surprised to realize how costly participating in Black Friday can be.
While this event works for major corporations, those big companies also have the resources to afford participating in Black Friday. As a small business, you don’t have that same financial security. If you’re feeling any pressure to participate, or just want to know if it’s worth your time and effort, check out our advice (and caution) so you make the best choice for your small business this holiday season!
It’s totally understandable – seeing a wide-honored sale makes it seem exciting and that it could be a big opportunity for you. Which, it might be – it all depends on how you participate. Say you are a shop owner with some old inventory that didn’t sell last season (or over the past year). This could be a good time to get that stuff out on a sale rack or shelf, and make space for new inventory to come in.
If you aren’t careful and keep track of how much stock you have (and how much you can sell without adversely affecting your finances), you could get yourself in a money rut. In fact, if participating in a discount is the only reason you think you have to join in on Black Friday, you should think about it twice. Maybe you’re worried that people aren’t willing to spend money otherwise on your business, but that’s not true.
There are better ways to promote your business – especially with smart marketing – where you can bring in more clients at the price they should be paying you. And if you don’t have any items that need to be cleared, that doesn’t mean you should be hosting a sale for the sake of showing participation in Black Friday. Speak to a financial advisor before jumping ahead on a sale, because you likely shouldn’t do it.
Sure, your business may gain some traction by announcing its participation in the Black Friday sales. There are definitely a lot of crazy shoppers out there who check out as many sale opportunities as possible.
Given its violent history and stampedes of customers who literally resort to violence and fight over discounted products in stores, there’s a lot of judgement behind Black Friday. Aside from the fact that a lot of people are bringing awareness to the controversial history behind Thanksgiving, there’s also been commentary on how Black Friday promotes greed rather than gratitude and appreciation (which the Thanksgiving weekend is supposed to be about).
If you can avoid floods of people running into your store front, then Black Friday will be easier to navigate and much less stressful. By keeping it all online, you don’t deal with the overwhelming attitudes that come out from people who are deeply into the Black Friday bargains. This is probably one of the better ways anyway to do Black Friday.
Make it simple and send out a redeemable discount for any product or service only valid during Black Friday (or extend it to the whole weekend and Cyber Monday). The other thing is, if something sells out online, you don’t have to deal face-to-face with angry customers that they missed out.
If you can’t keep it all online, and you make your employees work, you’re taking away a holiday from them. Not only are you forcing them to work when most other people aren’t, you’re also putting them in a high-stress environment. Think about your business’ morale – a lot of the big companies who do Black Friday and make their employees work are not cultivating a positive culture.
I personally used to work for an eCommerce company, and it wasn’t fun to be going in the day after Thanksgiving. For a weekend meant to be focused on gratitude and family, going into work just didn’t feel good. Bottom line: keep your employees in mind when you make the decision to participate in Black Friday or not.
Often, discounts are an incentive used to show your customers appreciation for their business. Black Friday could present an opportunity for you to share a discount simply to follow-up with the theme of gratitude on Thanksgiving.
I’ve also seen some businesses offer rare promotions on the single day of Black Friday – for example, a barre (fitness) studio has offered a year-long membership package that comes with a list of perks and offered at a super discounted price. The same special is offered once or twice on other celebratory days throughout the year (such as the studio’s anniversary and another holiday). If you already have planned special packages to offer, maybe that’s the discount you provide on Black Friday as it was already incorporated into your business plan.
Black Friday is super popular amongst large stores who are desperate to hit quarterly sales goals. But think of this: what style of business do you run? Is it a place for super discounts? If not, it’s probably better not to participate so you stay on brand – and honor your worth.
You may worry that it’s the only day people will go shopping, especially if you run a shop, but that’s not true. In fact, most people only use Black Friday as a day to splurge on something for only them – it’s not actually a big holiday gift shopping day. It might be promoted that way, but it’s not.
Here’s the good news: you are not missing out by skipping offering Black Friday deals. Of course, it’s totally up to you -- and if it fits with your business plan, that’s great! But for the general population of small business owners, it’s just not something important.
Consider this too: shopping habits are changing. People are willing to pay for luxury because of the quality, rather than the quantity. There’s also a lot of heavy judgement over businesses who participate in Black Friday, so you are truly benefitting from skipping the sale day. Unless of course, you want to go buy something you need for your business at a great discount.
Keep yourself and your business in mind when you choose to participate in Black Friday or not. Above all else in the decision making process, do what feels best to you!
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When she’s not writing for SB, Pauline runs an intuitive healing business... and is still writing as she types up psychic readings! As she was raised by entrepreneurs, she knows what it takes to be a small business owner.
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