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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
That’s right, it’s already time to start thinking about Black Friday strategy! Black Friday ends up being last minute and super stressful for a lot of people in online business, and trying to catch up in November can be a little bit of a disaster!
It’s challenging to think up Black Friday promotion ideas when it’s still basically summertime – not to mention knowing what kind of marketing strategy you need and how to get all the moving pieces of your sale in place.
So, for this episode, I asked Nicole Boucher to join us and talk about Black Friday marketing ideas! Nicole is an incredible operations and business manager who runs the behind-the-scenes strategy for multiple online businesses. She’s also an absolute genius when it comes to planning and executing all things Black Friday.
Whether you’re already deep in Black Friday planning mode or you haven’t even started thinking about it, this episode is for you!
It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to do for Black Friday. Nicole even has some clients who plan everything out as early as December of the previous year. If you can, she recommends that you plan things out six months to one year ahead of time, too.
You don’t have to know all the nitty-gritty details that will go into your Black Friday promos, but you should at least think about things at the thousand-foot level. Outline some of the big ideas you have so that you won’t be scrambling for a marketing strategy at the last minute.
In June or July, you can start fine-tuning the details, depending on the type of products you have and the other projects on your plate. It’s even okay to push back figuring out the specific details until August, but by the end of September, you should have a good idea of what you want to do. If you know your second quarter will be busy, you might want to start even earlier!
If you’re not used to planning so far ahead, it might feel a little crazy to start so early. But the further in advance you can work, the less stressful the whole process will be and the better everything will turn out. Plus, it’s best to start the process while the latest Black Friday sale is at the forefront of your mind. If you want until the next summer to even get started, you’ll inevitably forget some of the details about what went well and what you wanted to improve the next time around.
Black Friday is this weird holiday where you have a promo going live immediately after a holiday. Everyone is super stressed out and it has the power to ruin your entire Thanksgiving! I’ve definitely been in the situation where on Thanksgiving night, my clients are emailing me about the sale that goes live the next day and we’re still trying to set things up (which isn’t what anyone wants after they’ve filled up on Thanksgiving food and are spending time with family!)
If you set up your Black Friday sale ahead of time, all you’ll have to do is check at midnight or early the next morning to make sure everything went live and is working as planned. The more you can do to prep ahead of time, the easier your Black Friday sale will feel for you and your team!
Even if you don’t think you want to do anything for Black Friday, once everyone else’s promo emails start rolling in, you might start feeling the pressure to match everyone else’s level (or at least do something!)
Or maybe you already decided on your sale, but you see what someone else is offering and it feels SO tempting to change your plans at the last minute. Shiny object syndrome is SO real! But resist the urge to make major changes in the eleventh hour. Small changes and tweaks are fine, but if it’s something big…just wait until next year. Making huge changes on short notice is a recipe for chaos and a surefire way to stress out yourself and your team.
Do a project post-mortem, just like you would with any launch or campaign. Nicole has a template in her shop to help you plan, evaluate what went well, and identify things you’d like to change the next time around.
Think about the things you LOVED and what you couldn’t roll out this year because you thought of it in the middle of the sale (there’s always something!) Evaluate every element of the process – team members, tech, problems, victories, and the things you hated.
The short answer: sell something that you already have and talk about all the time! People get super excited about Black Friday and want to make a brand new course or product completely from scratch.
In reality, launching a new offering on top of Black Friday is pretty confusing for your audience (and it deserves a marketing push of its own). Black Friday is actually the perfect time of year to promote your bread-and-butter products and offer a promotion that gives people one extra push to buy the thing they already know about and have had their eye on for forever.
Everyone’s brains are so full around the holidays! They’re traveling, cooking, shopping, and spending time with family. Their attention spans are short and it’s hard to build up credibility and explain an entirely new product while clients’ inboxes are inundated with sale emails from every business under the sun.
This all depends on the product you’re selling. For most people (and most products), a 20% discount is pretty persuasive, but higher-ticket items might perform better at 30-35% off. If you mark things down much more than that, it could give the impression that you’ve overpriced your products in the first place.
If you don’t want to offer a huge discount (or you want to add a little something extra), include a few bonuses with each sale. It doesn’t have to be something brand new or super complicated! It could be as simple as a tracking spreadsheet or checklist you use inside your own business.
Pro tip: be choosy with your bonuses! If you throw in too many bonuses that add a TON of value, you might throw off people who bought before Black Friday. And those people are your biggest fans! Think about how you’d feel as a buyer, and then try to find a happy medium of what will be valuable to Black Friday shoppers without making your early adopters feel left out in the cold.
Don’t keep your Black Friday promotions a secret! Once you hit the first week of November, your clients’ inboxes will be full of emails from Target and Amazon and everyone else. Start preparing people for your promotions in October. Let them know that a sale is coming, what will go on sale, and what kind of perks they will get, so they can make a shopping list. You don’t have to tell people every single detail, but tell them enough to get them excited and planning to spend their money with you!
First, decide your sale date (for most people, this is Black Friday, but some people prefer to start their sale on Small Business Saturday). Then, work backwards from there to build a launch runway for the big day. Start building leads from social media and lead magnets in September and October, then spend October educating them on what you have to offer.
If you run regular promos, give people a heads up whenever you run your last sale before Black Friday. Even if you don’t get high sales from that push, you can start building a list of people who opened your email and clicked through…making it easier to make a Black Friday sale to those people.
From Black Friday through the next Tuesday, send at least one email a day. Even though that sounds like a lot of emails, there are other businesses sending emails every few hours! Sending one per day will keep your sale top of mind.
If you send newsletters, give everyone the details of your sale there a week or two before things go live, then mention everything on social media – repost whenever anyone says they’ve purchased and are super excited to gain some organic marketing momentum for the sale!
If you want a super low-impact approach (but you don’t want to miss out on Black Friday), just put a banner on your website with a discount code and tell everyone about it on Instagram. People expect some kind of promo, so even offering 20% can be HUGE for your sales.
On the episode, Nicole shared what trends she’s seen so far this year that we can look for in Black Friday sales this year. Here’s a little preview!
If it feels like those Black Friday emails are hitting your inbox sooner each year, you’re not imagining things! Get ahead of the game and let people know about your sale so they can mentally plan out what they want to buy. Plenty of people are already thinking ahead for their goals for 2024 and want to go shopping for products and courses that will help them work toward that in the new year!
On top of discounts and bonuses that everyone gets, doorbusters add extra perks for the first few Black Friday customers. For instance, the first 15 people might get an exclusive, deeper discount than anyone else who buys in the sale.
This works especially well for add-on services, like a one-to-one coaching call or extra resources to go along with the course they just bought.
Tons of people stock up on courses during Black Friday sales and shelve them for the new year. Start a live cohort in January to give people accountability and ensure they actually start (and finish) your course!
Black Friday Sales aren’t JUST for Black Friday. Most business owners will start at midnight on Friday and go through the next Tuesday. That’s the best way to roll Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday into one sale. At the very least, run your sale Friday through Monday.
Nicole packed SO much amazing Black Friday advice into our conversation! Here are some more tips she shared for having the best Black Friday strategy.
Don’t try to do everything at once on Black Friday! So many people try to grow their email list, launch a new product, attract a ton of new customers, and have a big sale…all in the span of one or two months. Not only can that be super frustrating, it can spread your marketing efforts pretty thin and leave you with so-so results on everything. Just focus on the Black Friday sale during that season, and worry about the rest later.
Making things overly complicated or promoting a different sales for Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are confusing for your customers. Keep things simple with one blanket sale for the entire weekend. If you want to mix things up, try using doorbusters instead.
Working with Instagram’s algorithms can be tricky! Sometimes it takes a few days for your posts and reels to show up in someone’s feed (and your sale might already be over!) Front load your Black Friday marketing in the beginning of the week to make sure people see it, then archive it once the sale is done.
When people find old sale pages, it can be confusing or they might feel bummed out that they missed the sale. Redirect your Black Friday sale pages or shut them down altogether, so people don’t find them out of season.
Any time you implement something new, you never know what’s going to work and where your weak points might be. It’s so easy to forget the simplest things when you’re under pressure around the holidays! Click on everything, test email campaigns, and deliberately try to break your sale site. It’s better for you to find out ahead of time (rather than feeling rushed and stressed out when you should be eating your Thanksgiving pie!)
I hope our conversation on Black Friday strategy has gotten the ball rolling on promotion and marketing ideas for this year’s holiday shopping season! If you want to find all our best ideas in one place, download my brand new Black Friday Guide.
You can always find her and shop for templates on her website or reach out to her on Instagram (her DMs are always open!) You can also check out her podcast, Pixie Dust and Profits for bite-sized small business concepts learned from Disney.
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