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A Business Checklist for Surviving Black Friday

As the holidays approach, eager shoppers are making their Black Friday lists and checking them twice. How can you make sure your business is part of the plan? With so many stores offering so many deals, it can be hard to stand out. However, by following a simple roadmap, your business can be at the top of everyone's Black Friday list.

  1. Ditch ‘Black Friday Creep’. Americans expect deals to be announced sooner and stores to open earlier than ever before. Forget that. Be different—be purposely and conspicuously vague about the amazing deals that will be behind your doors on that all-important day. Give hints, but don't tip your hand. People will be curious and dying to get to your store on Black Friday. You'll create buzz and get attention—and still get to eat Thanksgiving dinner.
  2. Target Your Marketing. Businesses spend thousands upon thousands of dollars marketing for Black Friday alone. Most of them take the "more is more" approach and blanket every form of media for weeks. Try a different approach—"RIGHT is more." You don't want to reach people; you want to reach the RIGHT people. Focus your efforts on your loyal tribe—your Facebook, website and blog readers. Don't forget about your community too—go ahead and hit the radio and newspapers, if it suits you. But don't waste money just because everyone else does.
  3. Staff Well. Being front page news is good—being front page news because your customers brawled with each other on Black Friday is VERY BAD. Make sure you have enough staff to get people through the checkout lines quickly. You want to make a lot of sales on Black Friday, and you want everyone in one piece afterward. With good staff training and some patience, you'll be able to check both objectives off your Black Friday list.
  4. Make it Fun. When customers arrive at your store on Black Friday, lift their spirits by making the shopping experience fun. If shopping at your stores on Black Friday is not only a deal but also a great experience, you know they will tell their friends and come back next year. And don't forget your staff! Make the day fun for them too. They will be working really hard, so offer some extra treats in the break room or a prize for the craziest story from the day.
  5. Offer Coupons with Future Dates. You want to make sure customers know they can get great deals on items in your stores not just on Black Friday but in the future, too. To entice them back, tuck a 10% off coupon in bags that is valid for a week or two in the future. It will help bring shoppers back during a less harried time and could make them long-term customers.
  6. Take Advantage of Cyber Monday. Make sure you plan sales and events not just for Black Friday but for your website on Cyber Monday. In fact, Black Friday shoppers can receive Cyber Monday flyers in their bags, which may encourage them to purchase more from your store. People are buying more online each year, and you want to capitalize on the trend.

Black Friday doesn't have to be a dark day for businesses or customers. By following this simple Black Friday list, you will be well prepared to appeal to customers and meet their needs on this important shopping day. Look at the list, check it twice—and get ready for a great Black Friday!

Krista Wolfe is a marketing project manager for Quill.com where she writes to help small businesses, teachers and healthcare professionals make more informed decisions on office essentials. She also writes on our new community blog, Café Quill, about a wide range of business matters such as leadership, productivity and work-life balancing. Krista lives in Chicago, and you can find her on Google+ or LinkedIN.

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