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Cutting through the noise on Black Friday: how SME’s can win

With the soon-to-be swarm of customers hustling and bustling for the latest heavy discounts, big brands such as Argos and Amazon are readying themselves for the rush. But are smaller businesses forgotten in the face of the gargantuan sale known as Black Friday? Of course, Small Business Saturday is a fantastic opportunity for SMEs to take advantage of, but can they too register an impact on the ‘main’ days where people really go wild for big discounts? You may not think it, but SMEs are actually right there fighting with the big guns, showing off some amazing discounts on great products — it’s getting people to notice them that’s the problem.

Cutting through the noise of the big sales by the likes of Amazon is a tough ask for anyone. So, how can SMEs break into the space occupied by online and retail giants, and expand their customer base for the long term? It’s a tricky one, but it can be done!

The rise of mobile and ‘micro-moments’

According to Google, 54% of shoppers will purchase gifts and products online this festive season via their mobile. Based on previous years, this trend is only going up and up and up. In fact, Google were also quoted saying that 50% of 25-34 year olds use their phone to shop online while being in the store they were buying from at the same time. Why? Shoppers want to know what to buy before they go and buy it — mobile represents the immediateness and ease that comes with online shopping. So, for Black Friday at the very least, companies should now seriously consider optimising for mobile. If not, the loss in potential revenue could be a hefty one.

However, Google have simplified this process by creating a guide to what they call ‘micro-moments’. These are ultra-specific events that happen when a customer searches for something, or asks a particular question — it can be very granular. These micro-moments represent a user’s journey, and, in theory, the place where they end up. For small businesses, utilising this can be an important first step in winning the race to shift to mobile. By creating a micro-moments strategy, your brand can ‘be there’ when a specific question is asked on a mobile — something to do with Black Friday or Cyber Monday, perhaps? This visibility is your opportunity to showcase mobile-friendly, and simple yet eye-catching content to that potential customer very quickly. If you are consequently useful to them, they’re much more likely to buy.

But will they actually see our amazing deals?

This is where we come to email marketing, and placing tailored content in front of your potential customers. The type of content you push out can be the difference between a sale or a no-sale when it comes to events such as Black Friday, and it comes back to that important notion of immediacy. The content can be in form of an infographic perhaps, maybe just a few lines of copy with effective imagery, or a well put together video. It doesn’t matter, as long as it conveys precisely what you want it to: a discount, a new product range, a weekly sale, a fundraiser. With this, you can prep your customer base so they know what’s coming — saving them doing any research. These little insights can make the world of difference. By doing the work for them, and giving it to them on a platter, they will be more likely to keep you front-of-mind when it’s time for the sale to actually happen.

If they don’t end up buying anything from you when on your site, can you still capture their email through, say, a form suggesting there will be exclusive offers to come? Thinking ahead with strategy when you capture email addresses and newsletter subscriptions is a key road to success, too..

Forbes calculated that last year email marketing contributed over 27%% worth of sales during the festive season. The reason being the versatility of email marketing and the immediacy of it — making priority information stick in the reader’s mind. For small businesses, email strategy should be a priority: use it in conjunction with paid ads on social media and remarketing to break into new business, and target audiences with precision. It gives businesses the power to speak directly to an audience, and tempt them with a personalised offer.

Reeling the customers in: find the perfect discount

If email marketing is a great way to showcase your discounts, the next step is to know exactly what to discount — to really hit the sweet spot. For small businesses in particular, discounting the right products, at the right time, can be a winning factor in breaking through the stiff competition on Black Friday. However, this is where research comes to the crease. For example, look into what your competitors discounting. What sorts of things are trending at the moment, and what are shoppers searching for the most? Your discounts should represent a need for the product, and hopefully reflect your company’s ethos in having your customers’ best interests at heart by discounting it — showing you understand them will build trust.

Conveying this in your email campaign should be simple and with, perhaps, added incentives. For example, let’s say you wanted to discount your bestselling product. There are many ways you can approach this, but how you promote it should reflect what you believe your customers respond to (this can differ industry to industry). Does next day delivery really tickle their fancy, for instance? Or maybe an extra discount percentage if they spend a certain amount — or perhaps a prize draw? Mobile optimisation is actually a brilliant example: Google expect people to buy more via their mobile, so companies pump more of their marketing budget into email campaigns. You’re giving them more incentive to buy, by speaking to them in a way they are most likely to respond to.

Additionally, if you already have a loyal customer base, no matter how small, offering them exclusive discounts as a loyalty bonus can only serve to fortify their relationship with you. Of course, doing this all the time could be detrimental to your business, however this is Black Friday we’re talking about: discounts are expected, and, in reality, people will go wherever is cheapest on days such as this — delighting new customers, and rewarding existing ones should be a priority.

Creativity is more important than ever

Despite being a recent phenomenon, we are starting to move away from flash sales happening on single days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, we are now seeing companies such as Amazon throwing out amazing discounts a week before Black Friday begins. This new trend, however, should not be received unfavourably by small businesses, but rather as a creative opportunity to generate brand awareness.

A successful creative campaign can be a sure-fire way to do this, and social media has a massive role to play with it. Something along the lines of a ‘deal of the day’ sale with relevant hashtags is a classic example for social media promotion. But be creative with the words you use: be humorous, be urgent, be witty — again, what do your target audience respond to the most? If it is a ‘deal of the day’ campaign, you could, for example, create a series of countdown videos that reveal what the next product is. There could be limited stock, too, to create a sense of urgency. It’s a fantastic time to be bold with your ideas, because if you want to cut through the noise on Black Friday as a small business, you have to be memorable.

Being seen is the overarching problem small businesses have when it comes to days such as Black Friday. Yet, if you’re aware of shifting behaviour in relation to buying, you can optimise for it, and ultimately win on days as crazy as Black Friday.

To find out some more top tips on how small businesses can succeed with sale days, head over to the blog.