Stop One-Night Stands!

By Ryan McCarty
We’re just a week away from what is arguably the biggest day of the year: Black Friday.
In recent years there’s been an intentional rebuttal of the “holiday,” but rather than refute it entirely, why not incorporate Black Friday into your strategic plan with more intentionality and awareness? Contrary to its dramatic or even malignant portrayal by the media and certain retailers, Black Friday is still just another day of the year—and another day for your business to succeed.
Here are three ways to make Black Friday work for you and your store all season long.

1.     Stop One-Night Stands!
Black Friday and the whole holiday shopping season isn’t about the day or the month, it’s about building the relationship. Most retail stores and outlets get their annual high the Friday after Thanksgiving, post great numbers, pat themselves on the back, and then head into the rest of the year facing volume and other problems—the same problems they’ve faced all year. Black Friday will likely be one of the busiest days of the year for your business, with significantly higher foot traffic than usual. What an incredible opportunity to introduce yourself to a new potential user base for the entire year! Don’t lose that momentum; put some things in place now to keep those new customers coming back.

What can you do or sell on Black Friday that will get them back in the store in the spring, and then again in the summer? Consider offering a discount on subscription or packaged services, guaranteeing they’ll be back in. Maybe slip a coupon into their bag that begins in the new year. Promote something that will be back in your store later in the year or even in a future season to peak their interest in the future, and help them envision your store as a part of it. View the customer as a long-term relationship, and help them view your store that way as well.

2.     The Millennial Christmas
One of the strongest trends right now, especially with millennials, is a value for doing social good. The holiday season has always been one of generosity and giving, and the uniting of those two trends this season has unparalleled potential. A volunteer or donation program is always a good idea, but this season in particular is a great time to incorporate a very specific and bold “doing good” initiative that has messaging within your store and connects to your particular customers. This is more than the change jar at the counter; pick a specific goal and purpose to get behind, support that cause during the holiday season, and document how your business is involved. The more personal and specific, the better the story, and the easier it is for your customers to get behind the cause—and your store.
3.    Manage the Foot Traffic for a Season
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day that is Black Friday, that we often forget that it’s a shopping season. Your customers aren’t just shopping that fateful day, and many of them are actually beginning their holiday shopping earlier. You should consider how to manage your foot traffic not just for the day, but for the season. We’re beginning to see this all the time in big box retail: they offer their Black Friday deals early—beginning the week of Thanksgiving—so they can keep higher customer service standards for the day and also gain a halo effect with Black Friday. Consider ways that you can start Black Friday early, especially the week before, so when you are introduced to a new batch of customers, you can spend ample time delighting them!
Black Friday isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you approach it intentionally, you could emerge from the holiday season not just with more profit, but with a whole new community of customers to keep throughout the year.

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