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Here Are 11 Black Friday Ideas for Small Businesses

By Jessica Elliott Reviewed By Mike Lucas
By Jessica Elliott
By Jessica Elliott Reviewed By Mike Lucas

The best Black Friday ideas for small businesses deliver excellent deals and, most importantly, spread news of your sales event. 

Use these Black Friday marketing ideas to capture attention and drive people to your website and store.

1. Showcase Small Businesses on Black Friday

When we think of Black Friday, images of crowded big-box stores come to mind. Indeed, you may ask, “does Black Friday help small businesses?”

Yes, Black Friday increases foot and web traffic leading to more small business sales. Consumers want to support small businesses.

However, the “2020 Deloitte Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey” notes 61% of Thanksgiving period shoppers prefer mass merchants. Yet, the “2019 Deloitte Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey” shows “more than a third of shoppers are undecided on where to shop,” suggesting that small retailers can motivate consumers to choose their business.

Here are ways to raise awareness about your small business Black Friday event:

  • Partner with local brick-and-mortar stores: Team up with small businesses and host a scavenger hunt while highlighting the best deals at each location. 
  • Create a small business guide: Ask social media fans to leave a comment with a link to their favorite physical or online retailer. Turn their remarks into a guide for shoppers.
  • Make it personal: Introduce your employees, share stories about your company’s commitment to the community and give people reasons to shop at your small business.

2. Deliver a Custom In-Store Experience

Stand out from big-box retailers by creating unique in-store experiences for your customers. After all, 46% of respondents to Deloitte’s 2020 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey say they “enjoy shopping with family and friends as part of Black Friday ritual.”

Another 27% shop in-store on Black Friday because of the “overall excitement of the day.” This is especially true for Gen Z and Millennials, as Deloitte’s 2019 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey finds 82% of Gen Z and 60% of Millennials “plan to shop in-store with family and friends.”

Personalize the Black Friday shopping experience by:

  • Having live music during certain shopping hours
  • Creating cozy spaces to interact with friends and family
  • Designing Instagrammable photo opportunities
  • Offering food or drinks in convenient to-go cups and containers

A group of people form a line outside a small shop with a big “Black Friday Sale” sign in the window as the shop owner opens the door from inside to welcome shoppers.

3. Share a Black Friday Promotion Hourly

Publishing a list of your best deals early helps people plan their day. But, a well-timed promotion sent via text and shared on social media can drive in-store and online sales

Pick the channel used by most of your Black Friday shoppers and use it to amplify your Black Friday promotion every hour. Choose a mix of items and share them when your targeted age group typically shops on Black Friday. Get market research by conducting polls on social media, short message service (SMS) and email. 

According to Deloitte’s 2020 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse survey, 36% plan to start shopping in-store between midnight and 6 a.m., whereas 46% want to shop between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. or later.

So, what sells the most over Thanksgiving weekend? Here’s what the experts say:

  • Apparel, clothing and accessories: Purchased by 58% in 2019 according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) compared with 66% who told Deloitte they planned to buy in 2020.
  • Toys and hobbies: 33% of 2019 NRF respondents bought toys, whereas 52% of 2020 Deloitte respondents plan to purchase.
  • Electronics and accessories: In 2019, 31% made electronic purchases, according to the NRF. In contrast, 49% of 2020 Deloitte respondents planned to buy in 2020.

Other top gift purchases include gift cards, food and beverage items, health and beauty (including sporting goods) and home and kitchen gifts. 

4. Prioritize Loyal Customers on Black Friday

What is Black Friday marketing without your loyal customers? For some businesses, repeat shoppers make up the bulk of their sales. It costs less to retain a customer than attract a new one, so consider spending some of your Black Friday marketing budget on delighting existing clients.

Entice those familiar with your products or services by:

  • Sharing day-of deals via your loyalty program
  • Sending exclusive offers through email
  • Providing in-store coupons and online discount codes 
  • Inviting customers to get a sneak peek at your Black Friday deals

5. Use Persuasive Promotional Techniques

Let’s face it: The majority of people shop on Black Friday to get the best deals. Deloitte’s 2020 Pre-Thanksgiving Pulse Survey finds the top reason “for shopping in-store on Black Friday” for 73% of respondents is to “take advantage of sales or the best deals of the season.”

In addition, the NRF says limited-time promotions or sales give 36% of people a reason to “make a purchase they were otherwise hesitant about.”

Black Friday marketing ideas include:

  • Offer buy one, get one (BOGO) free or at a reduced price promotions
  • Package an assortment of items as a product bundle
  • Give a free gift with every purchase
  • Provide free shipping or curbside pickup 
  • Develop a cashback promo
  • Let customers choose a stocking stuffer with each toy purchase

6. Build Excitement With a Giveaway

Giveaways, instant win games, and sweepstakes are among the best Black Friday marketing ideas because they’re interactive and convenient for consumers. You can use them to collect information about your target market and increase email or SMS subscription sign-ups. 

You can host a giveaway in the days leading up to your Black Friday event, along with running a sweepstake on the day itself. For pre-Black Friday promotions, use your giveaway posts to add value for shoppers. 

Here’s how:

  • Choose the prize: Use your brand’s products, partner with other small businesses to give a larger reward, include a gift card or bundle various retail goods or miniature versions. 
  • Create a landing page: Stick with your Black Friday marketing campaign aesthetics for design and write a compelling headline. Add an optional email or SMS sign-up checkbox or a disclaimer saying every entry is automatically signed up.
  • Design and schedule social media posts: Attract more giveaway entrants by using value-added social media posts, such as a product comparison infographic or a customer poll. Use a solid call to action (CTA) to enter the giveaway to get Black Friday alerts automatically.

If you run a giveaway or sweepstakes on Black Friday, consider going live on Facebook or Instagram when selecting winners. On the other hand, you could go live to announce your hourly promotion and tell fans how to enter your giveaway.

7. Optimize Your Ecommerce Site

While website optimization may not be at the top of your list for Black Friday marketing ideas, it’s a vital component for holiday sales. 

Unfortunately, 69% of shoppers say “they had a disappointing ecommerce experience last year,” according to a Publicis Sapient survey. The most significant pain point was that items listed as in-stock were actually out of inventory.

Because 75% of the NRF survey respondents used a mobile device to “research products, compare prices or make purchases” in 2020, a  mobile-optimized site is a must-have. Plus, an “easy-to-use website or app” is a key reason for 21% of shoppers to “make a purchase they were otherwise hesitant about.”

Take these steps to ensure your Black Friday marketing pays off:

  • Use inventory software with real-time capabilities
  • Assess and improve the shopping cart experience
  • Double-check any details that may have changed since 2020
  • Analyze and correct any issues relating to mobile use
  • Consider using a chatbot to point people to product category pages
  • Review your website’s search tool and increase its functionality when possible

How people found information on promotions and deals in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation: 39% explored emails from retailers 38% reviewed traditional advertising circulars 38% used online search engines

8. Leverage Sales and Marketing Channels

Why is Black Friday marketing important? Because it increases awareness about your brand and deals resulting in higher sales. Getting the word out early and frequently helps consumers decide where to shop and what to buy. 

Here’s how people found information on promotions and deals in 2020, according to the NRF:

  • 39% explored emails from retailers 
  • 38% reviewed traditional advertising circulars
  • 38% used online search engines

Additionally, IMI International finds that 16% of U.S. respondents report using Google, and 17% rely on consumer reviews “much more” than previous years to “shop and look for things during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.” 

Channel-Specific Black Friday Marketing Ideas

Take advantage of every tool at your disposal to get the word out about your Black Friday deals. 

First, get your marketing arsenal ready by making a list of power words for selling during Black Friday and finding hashtags related to the holiday. Make sure to research the hashtags on each social media channel, as usage and popularity may vary among them.

Next, create assets and publish them in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. You also can use a social media scheduling tool to reduce time spent on the big day. 

Build anticipation and amplify your Black Friday promotion by:

  • Developing an SMS marketing campaign related to Black Friday deals
  • Creating product, category and promotion-specific landing pages
  • Writing buyer’s guides and blog posts comparing products
  • Finding ways to share consumer reviews and recommendations
  • Designing email drip campaigns for each market segment
  • Building social media campaigns tailored to customers on each channel

9. Get Your Staff Involved

Customers want to know that you treat your staff well. Indeed, they’re looking to support small businesses that make a difference in local communities. 

Your team can help spread the word about your Black Friday sales and even be incentivized to share their own stories about working for your company. 

Include staff in your holiday promotions and help them spread the word by:

  • Providing special shopping hours and discounts for your employees
  • Offering early bird shopping tickets for your team’s friends and family
  • Encouraging them to forward an employee email with a unique online discount code
  • Creating Black Friday-related photos and videos involving your staff
  • Giving employees rewards for sharing marketing assets on their social media pages
  • Designing a campaign that highlights the good you do for retail or essential workers

10. Promote Gift Card Purchases

In 2020, about 60% of survey respondents told PYMNTS.com, an online resource for payment data, that they were somewhat, very or highly likely to “purchase gift cards as part of their online shopping for the holidays.” 

Branded payments provider Blackhawk Network’s 2021 Holiday Shopping Forecast finds 83% of survey respondents “want to give a gift card instead of a physical gift this year.” In addition, they plan to buy 15 cards on average and “spend 41% of their holiday gifting budget on gift cards,” a 27% increase over last year.

Promote your gift cards with the following Black Friday marketing ideas:

  • Give a $5 to $10 gift card with every $50 gift card purchase
  • Every gift card purchase gets an entry into the grand prize giveaway
  • Buy 2 or more gift cards and get a free stocking stuffer of your choice
  • One day only: Earn loyalty points on your gift card purchases

11. Encourage Customers to Treat Themselves

While Black Friday is a crucial time to buy holiday gifts, it’s hard to pass up a little something extra for yourself. Indeed, YouGov data finds “21% of Americans plan to shop for themselves on Black Friday and 18% on Cyber Monday.”

At the same time, Black Friday shopping takes a lot out of a person. Your convenient payment and shipping methods can ease their troubles. 

Focus on your customer by:

  • Creating a quiz that identifies the best gift for themselves based on budget, hobbies or dreams
  • Offering buy now, pay later (BNPL) options. As Adobe reports, “BNPL orders in 2021 are 44% above the same period in 2019 and 3% higher than 2020″
  • Developing top 10 lists for your target market, highlighting the biggest Black Friday deals for self-care and self-gifting 
  • Letting customers skip the line with buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) or curbside delivery options 
  • Providing contactless payment methods, such as Apple Pay or Venmo 

Increase Your Black Friday Small Business Sales

Prepare your business for holiday sales and devise creative campaigns to win over the Black Friday crowd. Don’t be hesitant to tout your small business status and leverage every marketing channel. 

With a solid plan and purposeful actions, you can hit your seasonal goals and then some.

Jessica Elliott Contributing Writer at Fast Capital 360
Jessica is a business-to-business content strategist and consultant with 24 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. She writes about technology, marketing and finance.
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