Black Friday Small Business Marketing

small business marketing

Updated on November 18, 2022

It’s American Thanksgiving next week. If you think about it, it’s kind of weird how much Canadians know about American Thanksgiving. When I was a kid in the 80s, we actually did Thanksgiving crafts about pilgrims, which have absolutely nothing to do with Canadian Thanksgiving in October.

Me in kindergarten (right), learning about a holiday we do not celebrate.

Such is life living next-door to the US.

Another American import coming up next week is Black Friday. If I understand this correctly, Americans spend all Thursday being grateful for what they have, and then line up at the crack of dawn the next day to trample each other for televisions.

Black Friday has become weirdly mainstream in Canada too, which makes no sense since we don’t have the day off and aren’t really a trample-y people.

Every small business owner knows on some level that small business marketing is different from big business marketing. This is something to keep in mind if you’re a small business owner wondering whether to  jump on the Black Friday promotion bandwagon. I bet you can guess what I’m going to say…

Black Friday is not Mandatory.

Black Friday is not mandatory. Not as a shopper, and not as a business owner.

Anytime you join a promotion the masses are already participating in, you reduce the impact of the promotion.

If you are selling flat screen TVs, it might be worthwhile to compete on Black Friday.

But for basically anyone else, it’s like trying to get home in rush hour traffic. You aren’t the only one with the same idea.

I really encourage clients to embrace all the gifts that come with being a small business because our size is often our small business marketing superpower. Does Wal-Mart have a choice about whether to do Black Friday? Not if they want to meet their quarterly goal, they don’t.

But you and I don’t need to do things the way the big guys do things.

Overnight Success? No Thanks.

What many marketers don’t tell you, or perhaps don’t realize themselves, is that not every small shop wants to be Wal-Mart.

Even if that IS your dream, you need to be aware of 3 small business marketing mistakes that could get in your way.

READ THIS LATER: If you don’t have time to read this article right now, you can download the PDF version to your phone or computer and read it when you have time later.

Small Business Marketing Mistake #1: What got you here won’t get you there

It’s not a good plan to use, say, Apple’s marketing best practices for small business marketing.

That’s because you need to kick ass at being a small business before you can become a big business. It’s like a version of that old expression, “what got you here won’t get you there.”

Foundation First

I had a brief –very brief—stint at big marketing agency when I first left television. I was working with a client whose brand new product had a spot in an LA gifting suite at an upcoming event. She wanted press releases sent to Vogue, Refinery29, and Paris Hilton. Like, not Paris Hilton’s company, just… Paris. Spoiler alert: Paris didn’t care.

My suggestion would have been to hold off on the LA press push until she had a sale or two but no one asked me. So I was left suggesting that her time and money would be better spent by getting some credible media attention in her own city, or at the very least her own country, before trying to out-compete every Hollywood starlet with a beauty line.

I had no doubt she could be very successful, but I also wasn’t surprised when she didn’t get a single media appearance from her press release about the LA gifting suite. She hadn’t done the hard work of building a fan base before trying to attract the most competitive attention there is.

Small Business Marketing Mistake #2: Blindly following trends

Many people struggle trying to gain traction on platforms like YouTube, TikTok or Instagram for small business marketing. Do you ever ask yourself why you’re trying so hard to beat the algorithms?

If you’re Home Depot, it really does make a difference whether you have more followers and more engagement than Lowes. Both of those companies want to attract as many millions of people as possible to their stores. While focusing on the sheer volume of inquiries can  work for small business marketing, is not a requirement for small business marketing, and can be a big waste of time.

Faster Isn’t Better

Fast growth is almost always terrible for small business. Let’s be honest, if everyone who went to Home Depot today called your business or came by, it would be impossible for you to handle the sudden traffic and you’d likely just end up angering your existing customers.

Grow to that size eventually? Sure! You absolutely can. Grow to that size tomorrow? Uh, no. That wouldn’t turn out so well.

Back to the “trying to beat the algorithm” thing for a second, in small business marketing you have a choice whether you chase social media success.

That’s because no matter what you do, you’re not going to beat the “Home Depot” of your industry. At least, not yet. You could view that as a negative, but you could also see it as very freeing. Often we focus so hard on using a particular trendy tactic that we don’t stop to consider if there is an easier and more effective way that is more well-suited to small business marketing.

Small Business Marketing Mistake #3: The Amazon Prime Day Fallacy

Black Friday is the same kind of event to me as Amazon Prime Day. Apt to do more harm than good to your brand.

Here’s why. The first year Amazon offered Prime Day, I didn’t find a single thing that was particularly good value. It seemed like a scam to drive traffic. (Gasp.) So now I’m forever suspect of how good the deals on Prime Day are going to be. My trust level for Amazon is lower than ever.
I’m sure Amazon is really broken up about my lack of interest in Prime Day. Of course they aren’t. They don’t need me, specifically, to shop Prime Day. They just need a certain percentage of middle-aged soccer moms like me to shop Prime Day. If a few of us are disenchanted along the way, no big deal.

You and I, on the other hand, need our audience to stick around.

Chances are you need a much higher percentage of your leads to convert than Amazon does. If one potential client in your target audience gets turned off by a marketing tactic you choose, that is a bigger deal to you than it would be to Amazon.

Where Small Business Marketing Should Focus

Instead of offering your wares at a discount for Black Friday, it makes more sense to put the effort into your SERP performance and your mobile web speed. If your site is sluggish, you might lose the opportunity to connect with one specific audience member who could really help your business. Each individual visitor is important, yet many designers don’t make that their priority.

If you suspect you’ve been following advice intended to help companies with an audience of millions and you’d like to bring more people in your own neighbourhood through the door, book a no-obligation consult call before year’s end so we can start 2023 off running. Brainstorming marketing ideas and sharing them with small business owners for free truly is one of my great joys in life, and I’d love to hear from you.

picture of author bridget brown