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Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Trend capturing to support traffic and sales.

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | November 14, 2023
We are getting ready to enter the holiday home stretch. Emporia quickly transitions from Veterans Day to the Christmas Season, and the decor, mind set, and retail/service focus needs to shift to accommodate the season. The biggest push for retail sales is close to Thanksgiving (and then on to Christmas). Three separate activities happen in rapid succession (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday), and these are a few things that you need to adjust for to take full advantage of the season.

Look and feel the part.- Shopping for the holiday often requires that shoppers are “in the mood” for holiday shopping. If a storefront isn’t decorated (or is minimally decorated), holiday music isn’t playing, and holiday shoppers seem like an afterthought, your business will struggle through the holidays. If your staff isn’t “merry and bright”, your customers will go someplace that has more Christmas cheer.
Cooperate with other local businesses.- Small businesses are, well, small. The great thing about entrepreneurs is that they can form networks full of suggestions to help educate the consuming public. Part of that education is telling people about other small businesses. Some education should revolve around encouraging participation in local shopping events. Attracting shoppers as a small business requires you to tell a compelling story to potential consumers, and highlighting ALL the things that people can do in proximity to your business is important. Participating in existing activities designed to drive shopping and cooperating with other small businesses are critical to your collective success.

Push staff education.- Nothing turns off consumers quite like a staff member who don’t know what’s going on. If they aren’t aware of the item you highlighted in an advertisement, upcoming events, your inventory, or other things to do in immediate proximity, your consumers will make assumptions about your business. Knowledge is synonymous with service in the mind of the consumer. Extra time spent on staff education is super important during the holidays.

It’s not all about the discount (and NEVER storewide).- If you are promoting storewide blanket discounts, you are losing out margins. Holiday shoppers are motivated by finding the right items for the people on their shopping list. Simply saying “all of our stuff is on sale” without highlighting specific items in your business isn’t going to motivate your buying public. If you want to discount, pick a specific item. But, it’s okay to sell things at regular price.

Shift your hours.- People may want to shop during hours outside of your regular year-round hours. If you aren’t open later during the evening or on weekends you are probably missing sales. Again, it’s important to highlight all the other things to do in the area during your extended hours so you aren’t trying to drive the traffic all by yourself.

Black Friday is about focal items.- A few years ago you had businesses touting “the biggest sale of the year” with some vague product references and a bunch of buzzwords. Many of those businesses are no longer in business. Focusing on products, who they are for, and why they are awesome is important to drive sales. Many businesses assume that people understand their inventory because the store owners/managers are around the inventory every day, and that’s a bad assumption. Highlight the products/services you provide that consumers should be excited about this holiday season for Black Friday, and promote the event/store hours so people can “get them before they are gone”.

Small Business Saturday is about service and uniqueness.- You want to tell your story, the story about your items, and highlight unique services you provide. Shoppers at Small Business Saturday want to support you AND buy cool things for the people on their shopping list. Highlight events like the Emporia Main Street Elf Scavenger Hunt to your customers. Display your Small Business Saturday swag. Thank people for shopping small ALL SEASON LONG!

Cyber Monday is about accessibility.- Are you consistently driving people to your website? Do you have information, products and services that are easily accessible through your web platform? Cyber Monday is about highlighting your web portal, products available, and any services you can provide (free shipping over a certain dollar amount, gift wrapping, etc.). Remember to highlight items that you can bundle together (it makes it harder for people to showroom you), and promote interactive elements for sale (like classes that showcase how to use their new gift). If your system allows it, online “wish lists” can make it easier for everyone to shop for you. Know your online capacity and form a marketing plan.

Understand your calendar.- The Holiday calendar can significantly alter your marketing strategy. This year, Christmas lands on a Monday, which gives people a lot of shopping options the weekend before Christmas. The Monday holiday may also mess up shipping for online sales and push back the time people have to shop web portals. The day after Christmas is obviously a Tuesday which can act to retain in-town shoppers. New Years Eve lands on a Sunday, which may adjust hours for businesses helping people ring in the new year. Look at past year’s sales, and let your calendar help best inform you how to intersect with your customers best.

People have options; make your business their top priority.- Hope isn’t a strategy. Businesses will be pushing for holiday spending to end the year on a high note. What are you doing to target your customers effectively? How do you plan to highlight specific products? What will you do about hours, decorations, cooperative events, and staff education? What is your message that makes customers want to spend with you?

When your business thinks of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, what is your plan? Is your staff engaged? What will you do to stand out? What are your “must have” products or services this holiday season? How will you adjust your sales strategy to the calendar? Remember, you aren’t in this alone. Collaborating with other local businesses and Emporia Main Street can help you achieve a more successful Christmas 2023!
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About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.