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12 Black Friday ideas for small businesses

Black Friday Ideas for Small Business
Why bother with Black Friday promotions?
Revenue by key date ($Billion)
12 Black Friday ideas for small businesses
1Create personalized gift guides
2Use timed deals
3Use conditional discounts
4Free gifts with purchase
5Customizable deals
6Sneak peeks/previews
7Product drops
8Interactive promos
9Upsell and cross-sell
10Get the word out on social media
11Organize promo events
12Update your website design
Final thoughts

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday (sometimes abbreviated to BFCM) shopping season is one of the highest volume retail events of the year. It’s worth putting some effort into ensuring it’s part of your annual marketing calendar.

In this article, we’ll list some Black Friday marketing ideas for small businesses to help you capitalize on the holiday shopping buzz.

Why bother with Black Friday promotions?

Everyone from brick-and-mortar stores to small e-commerce startups can take advantage of the Black Friday season. It can seem intimidating to try and join the thousands of other businesses offering deals, but if you prepare adequately, the effort is worth it.

For a better picture of just how big the Black Friday shopping season is:

  • Shoppers spent $211.7 billion during the 2022 season, according to Adobe’s holiday trends report

  • Of that total, online shoppers spent over $9 billion on Black Friday alone, according to that same data

  • Cyber Monday topped that, with $11.3 billion in sales.

Revenue by key date ($Billion)

As you can see, there’s potential for a lot of money to flow into small businesses during the Black Friday season.

12 Black Friday ideas for small businesses

Now that you know what your business can gain by participating in Black Friday, here are some ideas you can use to make it happen.

From early bird promos to email campaigns, there are tips and tricks any small business can use for their next BFCM marketing campaign.

1. Create personalized gift guides

Gift guides are a way to help potential customers find a special gift for someone in their life with specific interests. They’re a collection of products or services people can give as gifts, often tailored to a certain demographic (e.g., “10 gift ideas for Dad this Christmas”).

You can even organize them by price tier, as with this gift guide from Snowe.

Snowe Black Friday Ideas for Small Business

Gift guides hand deliver a list of great gift ideas to existing customers and prospects. They can build trust by showing people they can turn to you for relevant recommendations and that you already have their gift ideas in stock.

They can also plant the seed in people’s minds that they should shop with your business when Black Friday comes around – especially if you send them out in the lead-up to the shopping season.

Gift guides can be used:

  • In email newsletters

  • On your website

  • As a downloadable lead magnet

You can target groups of people or events with this tactic. Here are some example gift guide ideas to use:

  • Gift ideas for Mother’s Day

  • Techie gift ideas

  • Gifts for gamers

  • Gifts for the bookworm in your life

To tailor your gift guides to the proper audience, conduct market research. Look at what your most loyal customers buy and what their interests are.

If your business has a CRM system, you can use data on past purchases, demographics and customer preferences to create Black Friday gift guides for both existing and new customers. Target not just them, but the people in their lives they might shop for.

2. Use timed deals

Making deals and discounts only available for a limited time creates a sense of urgency that motivates people to buy.

There are multiple ways you can use time limitations as a Black Friday sales tactic, including:

  • Hourly deals. Deals that change or rotate every hour motivate people to check your site more often and move on a good deal. For example, you could offer a deep discount on a new popular product every hour.

  • Early bird deals. Offering the earliest shoppers a special discount is a good way to get people to your site or your store, especially if that deal is in a limited time window.

  • Daily deals. The same as hourly deals, extended over a whole day. You can also combine hourly and daily deals to keep people coming back to check your site throughout the day.

  • Second chance/last chance deals. With a last-chance discount code only valid for a certain amount of time, customers who abandoned their carts before purchasing get an extra chance to grab that deal.

For instance, clothing brand ABLE used the ad below to inspire early spending.

Able Black Friday Ideas for Small Business

The draw with this is the opportunity to get in on the savings before the big event crowds and possibly snatch the best merchandise.

Timed deals are effective. According to the NRF, 56% of shoppers said they took advantage of early bird deals before the 2022 Thanksgiving holiday.

That trend is expected to continue this year. Experian’s holiday shopping trends report predicts early and discount shopping to increase during the 2023 holiday shopping season.

Timed deals are easy to promote via email marketing, but don’t limit yourself to one channel. A countdown clock on your website or a live event on your official Instagram/TikTok/YouTube page can also build hype for the big day.

3. Use conditional discounts

Black Friday is famous for super steep discounts and it may seem easier for larger corporations like Target, Best Buy and the like to slash prices that much. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t offer shoppers your own deals.

Try bundling products or services together to provide people with savings while not taking a loss.

A tiered discount system is also a popular kind of conditional discount. You might offer discounts or free shipping after they spend a certain amount. For example, you can offer 20% off and free shipping for orders over $200, 30% off for orders over $500 and so on.

For example, in this ad, beauty brand Function of Beauty takes advantage of conditional discounts with 30% off a minimum spend amount.

Function of Beauty Ideas for Small Business

4. Free gifts with purchase

Adding an extra item for no extra charge to a customer’s order is an incentive for them to buy. It also improves the customer experience because just about everyone is up for free stuff.

What you choose to offer is up to you, but here are a few common examples:

  • Small samples of your other products, e.g., hand lotions, cleansers, fragrances

  • A mystery gift

  • Complimentary items that go with their purchase, like a free pair of socks with sneakers

  • Let customers pick their own free gift with each purchase

For instance, in addition to the discounts in this ad from Avon, the company offers a free gift as a holiday perk to big spenders:

Avon Black Friday Ideas for Small Business

They note that the gift is a “$57 value”, so spending more to get it still feels like a financial win.

Bundling items and adding valuable freebies helps increase buying intent. When people feel like they get an add-on worth more or that they likely would’ve bought anyway, as with the socks example, they’re more likely to spend.

5. Customizable deals

Customizable deals let people decide where they apply the savings. These deals often take the form of buy-one-get-one (BOGO) 50% off, so customers can choose what products get discounted.

For instance, this deal from Bath & Body Works lets buyers mix and match between product lines to get the sale of their choice.

Bath and Body Works Black Friday Ideas for Small Business

Customizable deals can also change over time. You could give a 50% discount on everything for the first couple hours of Black Friday, then BOGO 50% off after that. Items on clearance could be discounted even more, say 75% off.

Discounts that require a purchase get people into a “buy more, save more” mentality, where it appears that they save money the more they purchase. If you have BOGO discounts on complementary items or things people actually want or need, even better.

6. Sneak peeks/previews

Generating hype for your Black Friday sale is important. Online shopping and Black Friday deals start well before Thanksgiving weekend, so it’s better to get the word out early. Use multiple channels to make people aware of the deals you’re going to offer.

Email marketing

Craft an email with a compelling subject line that teases what you’ll have on sale, then follow up later with a more detailed version. Even if you don’t offer discounted prices before Black Friday, you can still build anticipation for the sale.

Note: A CRM makes this simple. Pipedrive’s email marketing tools let you build emails with templates, set them up to send to specific groups of customers, and then schedule them to send at the appropriate time.

You don’t have to outline everything about the sale in your sneak peek email; just let people know that something’s on the way.

Apple does this well. It usually sends staggered emails weeks before Black Friday, one letting people know there are deals on the way and another with more specific details on the sale. There’s even a link to add the event to your calendar.

Apple Black Friday Ideas for Small Business

Use your social channels the same way. Slowly build anticipation for your Black Friday sale by posting hints about what deals you’ll have, then post more specific details as the season gets closer.

Point of sale promos

“Point of sale” is the term used for the time and place where a customer makes the final purchase. In-store, that’s the cash register. Online, it’s the checkout screen.

That last leg is an oft-overlooked place to offer one last deal, upsell a product or get the word out about your sales before the day arrives. Build anticipation ahead of Black Friday with a reminder for each shopper in the weeks leading up to it.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, you might print flyers promoting your deal and put one into people’s bags at checkout. On your site, you could use a pop-up ad or message on the checkout screen that shares the details.

The point of sale also allows you to promote ongoing deals, reminding people of other opportunities to save.

For example, say you’re running a contest where you enter customers into a drawing to win a prize if they spend a certain amount. If they’re under the qualifying amount, you could add a message to the checkout screen reminding them they could qualify if they spend a few more dollars.

These tactics generate sustained interest in the days and weeks leading up to the Black Friday shopping season.

7. Product drops

There are already more eyes on your store and people expect something special, so the holiday season is a good time to launch a new product or feature you’ve been hinting at.

You could carry that new product or clothing line or software feature forward into the rest of the year or make it exclusive to the Black Friday season.

For instance, popular influencers often run limited-edition clothing drops only available for one day a year while stock lasts. They build up hype ahead of time then sell out in minutes.

This announcement by clothing brand Cloak on their X (formerly Twitter) account lets fans know their favorite retired pieces will be available for a short window.

Cloak Black Friday Ideas for Small Business

The ad drives engagement, encouraging people to follow the account to find out more and take advantage of the sales.

8. Interactive promos

Interactive elements can engage people beyond the buying experience.

You could add a pop-up to your site that lets people spin a wheel of discounts to see which one they’ll get. They could also spin for a free gift with purchase. Use the wheel as an email collection tool and you can build your list at the same time.

Tech accessory brand Coconut Lane does this for new site visitors with a pop-up that takes up half the screen. It also changes the design of the discount wheel to reflect the time of year.

Coconut Lane Black Friday Ideas for Small Business

Pop-ups like this can be added to your website as a way to increase traffic and improve the shopping experience.

You can also use interactive promos to give customers a nice surprise at checkout. A pop-up with an additional discount code or spin-the-wheel widget to save even more money will give people one last good experience before their Black Friday shopping with you ends.

9. Upsell and cross-sell

The heightened number of eyes on your store, plus the fact that so many people will shop for others this Black Friday season, makes it a perfect time to upsell and cross-sell.

  • Upselling: Persuading customers to buy a higher-priced version of what they’re currently considering

  • Cross-selling: Recommending complementary or related products to what a customer buys

Pairing this with discounts makes it even more likely you’ll increase average order value using this tactic.

If someone buys a new digital camera, you could cross-sell them high-quality memory cards for 50% off.

An example of upselling is if you package those memory cards for free with a higher-priced camera body that you may have also discounted.

10. Get the word out on social media

Start posting about Black Friday on your official social channels a couple of weeks before Black Friday to generate interest. The beginning of November is a good balance because it’s the time of year when people start to think about holiday shopping, but not so early that people will get bored.

Your social pages are a direct connection to your most loyal customers, so use them to communicate directly with that audience. Share teasers about your deals on platforms like Instagram and TikTok to build hype.

Makeup brand Glossier uses its Instagram account to post about current sales. Followers get real-time information on the sale, offering a feeling of community and being “in the know”.

Glossier Social Media post

Your campaigns can also reach beyond your direct network. If your followers share your posts, their network will see them, too.

Here are a few tips for using your social channels to reach out:

  • Use Facebook and Google ads to push your announcement and promotions out to people in your network and their friends

  • Create a form so they can sign up for your email list and get notified when deals go live or offer a discount when they sign up for your rewards program

  • Plan a social media content calendar and get posts ready ahead of time so that you can roll them out at scheduled dates

  • Use hashtags like #BlackFriday or #BlackFridaySale to get your posts in front of people searching their Explore page for deals

  • If there’s an influencer in your field with a big audience, reach out to them for a partnership

  • Run a giveaway and make following your profile or engaging with your social media posts a requirement for entry

Don’t limit yourself to one social channel and don’t try to be everywhere. Do your market research to target the platforms your customers frequent the most and use those platforms’ strengths to your advantage.

11. Organize promo events

Promotional events can be in-person or online. What matters is that you reach the most people possible in a way that gets them involved, lets them have some fun and hopefully leaves them with a positive impression of your brand.

Special promos can be as simple as offering signed books from a popular author. They can also be as complex as a coach offering a day of free mini-consultations.

In-person product demonstrations are another great option, especially if they’re novel or unusual – think virtual try-ons with a VR headset.

If you’re a small or online retailer, consider using your social channels to host a Black Friday livestream event. People can join the event from wherever they are, enabling you to show off products, answer questions and offer special deals to a broader audience.

You can also use events as fundraisers for a charitable cause. A live event on TikTok or Instagram with a donation link to raise money for the charity of your choice is a way to leverage your platform for good and develop your brand image.

12. Update your website design

Touch up your website for the BFCM season. Adding elements like a countdown timer and special banner images during the lead-up to the holiday will remind shoppers that your sale is coming soon.

Try creating a special Black Friday landing page and linking it to the ads you share on social.

Seeing how many visitors and click-throughs you get from it shows you how many people want to see your deals and which ads perform best. You could even change up this page on different shopping days during the season to showcase different exclusive deals.

This sample landing page acts as a countdown timer, reminding customers that sales are coming well in advance.

Black Friday Countdown Timer

Tweak the product recommendations on your site, too. Think about what sold the best for you in the past and what could sell well during the BFCM season. Then, push those recommendations on product detail pages and checkout pages.

Black Friday ideas for small businesses FAQ

Final thoughts

There’s no one perfect way for a small business to do Black Friday deals, but you can get ahead of the curve if you plan your strategy in advance and consider what you can offer that’s unique to your brand.

Use this BFCM season as an opportunity to grow your following, deepen engagement with your customer base and find out what marketing tactics work best for your brand.

Driving business growth