3 Steps to a Successful Black Friday Sale

Selling Tips

My Black Friday shopping shenanigans started about 15 years ago when we were all sitting around the Thanksgiving table checking out the sale flyers from the newspaper. We were chuckling about all the crazy people that go out on Black Friday and how horrible it must be and how we would never do that. I’m not exactly sure how it went down, but somehow I ended up in a McDonald’s parking lot at 5 am the next morning waiting for the drive-thru to open and my family to arrive, so we could try this whole Black Friday thing out.

The rest is history. We’ve been doing the Black Friday run for so long, it’s just what we do now. My personal Black Friday experience has morphed a bit since then. Now, I meet up with my bestie, and we meander around stores. We typically don’t have a long list of things we want to get. It’s more for the opportunity to hang out with each other with no kids, because they’re all sleeping at home with the hubbies. And with 4 kids, there’s always some new thing they want. So we usually grab a toy or three while they’re cheap.

When I got started in direct sales, I quickly saw a shift in my Black Friday behavior. I became aware of how much I wanted to support other small business owners, just like I wanted other people to support mine. The problem was and still is that I had to seek out those small businesses to find the stuff I wanted. I didn’t see many small businesses, or direct sellers in particular, marketing themselves for the biggest shopping day of the year. I might see a random Facebook post or a quick email or text, but it seemed like a shotgun approach and not very well thought out. They didn’t appear to have a plan at all.

I know we can do better. Direct sellers can and should be making themselves visible during this selling season, and I’ve got some tools to help you do that. I’m going to walk you through the dates you need to know, give you lots of Black Friday sale ideas, and some tips on how and where to promote your sale.  So let’s dig in!

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DATES YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Black Friday – This is the most obvious one. It’s the Friday after Thanksgiving and marks the kick-off to the holiday shopping season. People market the heck out of this one and rightly so. For many years now, Black Friday has been the biggest sales day of the entire year for traditional retailers. In 2018, American shoppers spent over $717 billion on this day. Yeah, that’s BILLION, with a B!
  • Small Business Saturday – This is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. American Express created this event to draw attention to shopping with small businesses. Traditionally, when people think of this day, they think of brick-and-mortar and mom-and-pop shops, not direct sellers. I’m thinkin’ we might need to change that.
  • Cyber Monday – This day was created to bring attention to online shopping after the Black Friday rush. As online shopping has increased, this day has become a no-brainer for most shoppers. Why fight the crowds when I can snag some deals in my pj’s? Am I right?
  • Giving Tuesday – Created in 2012, this day was created to encourage people to do good. It has turned into a global movement where people can get involved in their communities and give back. It seems appropriate following the craziness of the previous days. And while this isn’t a big shopping day, it might be worth considering adding a giving component to your marketing plan.  People love to give back, so it may be worth offering them the opportunity to do so! If you want more info about how you can get involved locally, check out the Giving Tuesday website for more details.  https://www.givingtuesday.org

 


CHOOSE A SALE TYPE

The first step is to figure out what kind of sale you want to have. I can hear you now, “I want the kind of sale that sells stuff!” Friend, I hear you, but there’s more than one way to sell your product, and I’m gonna load you up with ideas to help you get those creative juices flowing.

  1. Flat discount – This one’s pretty simple. You offer a flat % or $ off orders placed. If you have a higher commission rate, this could work well and still allow you to make something from the sale. If your commission rate is lower, this one may not be a good plan. A flat discount could be offered on specific items you sell or on their total purchase. If you significantly discount a collection or particular type of item (like more than your commission rate), we would call that a “loss-leader”. You see this all the time in grocery stores. They offer an item at a low price, knowing that you will grab several other things at full price while you’re shopping. Darn those cute end cap displays!
  2. Tiered Discount – Instead of just a flat discount on someone’s purchase, you could offer a higher % or $ off based on their order total.  The higher their order, the higher their discount.  Another twist on this one is to give them a higher discount the earlier they order.
  3. Free shipping – We can thank Amazon Prime for creating that desire to get free shipping on EVERYTHING. (Even though with Amazon, we pay for the privilege to do so.) Depending on your shipping rates, this one would be a quick and easy thing to offer to your customers if they spend over a certain amount or purchase a specific item. Be careful on this one, though, because you don’t want to give away the farm. Make sure that you’re making enough on the product sale to cover the cost plus some of the free shipping that you’re offering.
  4. Gift with purchase – Who doesn’t like getting something extra for free? If you decide to go this route, make sure you offer something super desirable as your freebie. If it’s a free gift that no one really wants, then you’re not going to sell anything. And again, do the math on this. Make sure you’re actually making a profit when you give away the free things.
  5. Multi-Day Sale – Some people see Black Friday as one and done. I disagree. I think there’s some merit in considering a multi-day shopping event for your customers. If you’re offering a discount on multiple collections or products, why not feature a few each day and spread the fun over the whole shopping weekend? If you keep the shopping event fun and engaging with some games or other things mixed in, you may be able to capture more people over the long haul. An extended-time period also allows people to join the fun late and still snag a deal. A caution on this one – don’t extend TOO long because shoppers will procrastinate and never pull the trigger to buy.
  6. Timed Promotions – This one works almost like a flash sale or blue light special. Remember those from K-Mart? Basically, when the blue light (picture a blue police light) started flashing, something was offered at a deep discount, and it was a surprise. No one had any idea what would go on sale or when. You could run this one over multi-days offering different items at different times throughout the sale. You can offer limited quantities or let people grab as many as they want. When I ran flash sales within my customer group, it was pretty simple to snag something. I had limited quantities that I would offer at the discount, and the first people to comment with “SOLD” got it at the discount. After the sale ends, you can send everyone their total and settle up.
  7. Bounce Back Discount – This type of offer has become increasingly popular with restaurant gift cards. I’ve even seen Barnes and Noble jump on this one. When you purchase a specific amount in product or gift cards, you get an additional discount or gift card to use at a later date. So you’re “bouncing back” to the retailer later to shop! This one is pretty simple and almost always guarantees some future shopping, even if it is at a discount.
  8. Product Bundles – I don’t know about you, but I get tired of making decisions, so I love it when someone will just bundle something up for me and tell me what to buy. Think about your product and all the ways that people would use them together this season. If you sell food-related products, are there items that pair well together for holiday baking? For cleaning products, what about a bundle of items to quickly clean my house before company comes? For you crafty people, what items do I need to knock out some quick and easy table decorations? Don’t even get me started on clothes! This is why capsule wardrobes work so well. Bundle me up something cute to wear for Christmas, and I will love you forever!

 

DECIDE WHERE TO HOLD YOUR SALE 

Now that you’ve figured out the type of sale you’ll be having, the second step is deciding where to hold it.  Is it better to hold it online or in person? What about a Facebook group vs. an event? There are so many choices with our current social media culture, so let’s walk through some options.

  • In-Person – This approach might be considered “old school” for some, but there’s something to be said for me quickly running into your home or a church hall, grabbing what I need to knock out a few gifts, and being on my way. If you have a decent local following, this could be a fun way to get together with your customers and give them some extra customer service, like gift wrapping. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to do this one as a multi-day event but more like a 3-5 hour pop-in.
  • Online – If you already have a social media presence, you want to leverage that. You can easily use Facebook or Instagram to showcase your offers with pictures and text. My biggest caution here – stay off your personal wall. It’s okay to post teasers about where the sale is happening. (Don’t worry. We’re getting to that.) But do not spam your friends with all your discounts. They want to see cute Thanksgiving family photos, and just because they are your Facebook friend does not mean they are your customer. 
  • Existing Customer Group – If you already have an engaged customer group, this would be an obvious first choice. These people already have a know, like, and trust factor going on and are actively engaged with you. It would be very natural to offer it to them. You can either post everything directly inside your customer group or create a separate event within the group and post there. This one is truly just a personal preference. I would suggest checking your group insights to see when your members are the most engaged to decide what times you want to post.
  • New Event or Group – If you don’t already have a customer group, it might be advantageous to create a new group or event to house your promotions. Currently, Facebook prefers groups for this type of thing over events, and you can schedule all of your posts, so you don’t have to be at your computer or phone at specific times.
  • Email – If you have an email list that you own and regularly communicate with, this could be an easy way to offer your promotions and send reminders. How many times do you get sales emails? I’m guessing it’s A LOT, and I always appreciate the info when it’s something I’m looking for. So if they are subscribed to your list, go ahead and leverage that!
  • Text – If you haven’t heard, text parties are a thing. If you regularly communicate with your customers via text with thank you’s or follow-up, then it should be a natural transition to also offer them your holiday deals via text as well. I’m going to caution you here. If you haven’t been texting people, a random message about a sale with no relationship is a really good way to get blocked.

 

PLAN YOUR PROMOTION

Once you nail down the type of holiday promotion you’re going to offer and where you want to hold the sale, the final step is to think through how to market it and devise your plan. If you’ve ever been shopping on Black Friday, it’s an amazing marketing lesson. All of those teasers that get “leaked” weeks before the actual sale have thousands upon thousand clamoring to grab the best deal and waiting in really long lines for the privilege to do so. That is NOT an accident. A solid marketing plan is key to a successful Black Friday sales promotion!

  1. Don’t wait! – It’s never too early to start dropping some hints. Don’t give away all the goods, but some fun teasers in your email newsletter or customer group are perfect. Remember that customers typically need to see things multiple times before they buy, so this is the “warm-up” before the actual purchase. And this doesn’t have to be something as blatant as “HEY! I’m having a sale soon!” Some Black Friday memes or jokes could get people thinking about it. Ask some questions about what they’re shopping for this year and what deals they hope to snag. This will give you some clues on the best things to offer.
  2. Layered approach – Hear me out here. Every person does not see EVERY post that you make on social media. They also don’t read EVERY email that you send. So a layered approach to your marketing will be the best bang for your buck. You catch people on different channels, and after they’ve seen it a few times, they KNOW it’s coming and are ready for it when it actually happens. Grab a calendar and sketch out what you’re going to do and when. One email and a few social media posts per week leading up to the sale should give enough awareness.
    • Social Media – Facebook and Instagram can be amazing marketing tools when we use them correctly. Like I mentioned above, you want to start leveraging your social media following NOW to get people interested in what you have coming later in the month. And let me repeat this one….it is NOT a “HEY! I’m having a sale, so pay attention!” type post on your personal wall. It’s a post that builds desire for the product you’re going to offer at a discount or a funny meme about Black Friday. You also want to make sure your images are consistent across all channels. Use similar colors, backgrounds, and fonts so when someone sees the image pop up in their feed, they stop their scroll because ALL of your other posts have conditioned them to look for it.
    • Email List – Using your email list in tandem with social media can be a powerful combination for rocking your Black Friday sales. Keep your customers warm and happy by sending out regular emails with helpful info leading up to Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Then throw in some teasers about the Black Friday sale that’s coming. Encourage them to come over and join your customer group or wherever you decide to hold your sale. If you’re creating a separate group or event, one week ahead of time is plenty of time to get everyone invited. TIP – If you plan to create a separate group or event for your sale, it’s much easier for people to click a link and join the sale. For a Facebook event, guests have to be invited first. So if you aren’t Facebook friends with them, there’s no way for them to get invited with just a shared link.
    • Text – Adding text messages can add a powerful 3rd level to your marketing strategy. You have 160 characters to share your message, so get right to the point.  Make sure your message is clear and concise,  avoid abbreviations, all caps, and emojis.  Make sure you always end your text with a strong call to action.   Because texts are read more quickly than other mediums, they’re perfect for those last-minute reminders.

 

MISTAKES TO AVOID

And finally, here are the 4 errors I’ve seen direct sellers make that you’ll want to avoid:

  • Not planning ahead – planning is critical to your success, so start early!
  • Not mixing up your promotions – by mixing up your marketing strategy, you’re more likely to attract different types of customers, so really think it through.
  • Only focusing on the sale – while your primary purpose may be to make sales, also think about future bookings and recruiting and how you can build those into your plan as well.
  • Stacking too many promotions back to back – give your customers some space to breathe. If you plan to promote a Black Friday sale, don’t then go straight into a 12 Days of Christmas Sale on December 1st. Choose one or the other for best success.

 

Now that you have all the ideas and tips, it’s time to sit down and make a plan. Set aside time in your schedule now to start promoting your sale. One or two random Facebook posts does not a sale make!

 

 

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Hey, I'm Mary!

I've been right where you are - in the middle of the direct sales hustle. I remember the grind of trying to figure out every new tip or trick to build my own direct sales business.  I want to show you a better, simpler way. My passion is helping you simplify and streamline your direct sales business using proven systems that reduce overwhelm and help you reach your business goals even faster! Find out more about what me and my team here.

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