This year Black Friday falls on 27th November and provides a great opportunity for South Africa's business owners to make the most of peaked consumer interest, as shoppers look to spend their hard-earned money on a bargain.
For SMEs that have borne the brunt of the economic depression coupled with a global pandemic, this may offer a chance to recoup some of the lost revenue from the past eight months or so. Even if doesn't result in a significant spike in sales, Black Friday may provide a marketing opportunity to reach new audiences, paving the path for returning customers.
Here are six tips to help you make the most of this Black Friday:
Check the numbers
Excessive discounts can leave you in the red if you're not careful, so make sure to do your research before determining your marked down prices or sales offerings. Consider factors like production and business costs, revenue goals, and competitor pricing. Some businesses use sales as an opportunity to move older or unmoving stock. Another option is to offer added value to purchases; for example, a 50 percent discount on a follow-up service when purchasing a particular service.
Start promoting early
Shoppers start planning their Black Friday sprees far in advance, hunting for the best bargains and making a list of where they will be headed to buy on the day – with some even preparing to purchase from just after midnight on the big day! There is also a great deal of 'noise', as many businesses are advertising their sales all at once, so making sure you're visible from early on will help you stand out from the crowd. This is where you can get creative in your marketing; consider creating eye-catching designs describing your offering, printing flyers, boosting social media posts, targeting your existing customers with newsletters, or getting listed on websites and blogs as a Black Friday deal to look out for.
Up your online presence
Since the onset of COVID-19, 73 percent of consumers have reported that their shopping behaviour has changed, citing an increased likelihood to purchase more online (Google Smart Shopper Survey 2020). The shift to e-commerce has certainly accelerated in South Africa, and as social distancing remains a reality for many, offering an online purchasing option for your product or service is critical. If you don't have the budget to develop your own website, consider offering your wares on an existing e-commerce platform, such as an SME co-op like Kamers (https://shop.kamersvol.com/) or Facebook Marketplace. You could also consider integrating a WhatsApp service with delivery.
Make sure you're ready
There are many stories of websites crashing on the day when they can't handle the high volume of unexpected traffic, so make sure you're prepared should you receive a lot of interest in your offering (fingers crossed!) Most importantly, ensure your customer service team are available on the day to trouble-shoot and manage any potential customer complaints. It's also a good idea to have a plan in place for the worst-case scenarios, such as running out of stock or experiencing technical issues.
Don't forget Cyber Monday
If you don't achieve the sales you wanted on Black Friday, don't despair. Cyber Monday, which is the Monday after Black Friday (falling on the 30th November this year), also offers an opportunity for making sales. As the name implies, this has more of an e-commerce slant, so make use of your digital platforms, as touched on in point three. To keep things simple, consider extending some of your existing promotions, while maintaining the 'limited offer' messaging to instill a sense of excitement and urgency. This second wave of offerings may require some additional marketing, so prepare to be pro-active and adapt your strategy accordingly.
Local is lekker
A deal may be a deal, but sometimes the competitive edge is won over by those offering value on a different level – the feel-good factor, so to speak. For SMEs, your unique selling point could be the personal story behind the brand, so be clear in communicating this, highlighting the impact your business is making in real people's lives (such as staff, value chain, etc.). Especially as the country battles to recover from a difficult year, consider appealing to the philanthropist in your customer, encouraging them to support the “little guy".