What’s next? Black Friday vs Valentine’s Day

If you’re a maker or creative business owner in retail, the next few weeks are pretty much the most intense of the year. If you hadn’t noticed, it’s Christmas, and this year, things are even more unpredictable.

In this blog post, I’m making it really easy for you to market your products right now, and plan ahead for future success. To read this and do all the things I mention, you probably need about 30-45 minutes. Doable, right?

So let’s pretend for a moment that fulfilling orders is a breeze, you’re totally on top of that, and you have no worries in that area.

In fact, let’s pretend that your only job right now (imagine, my dear solopreneurs and tiny teams! just one job…) is marketing.

As the Marketing Manager for your business, you have a few things on your mind:

  • Black Friday
  • The rest of December
  • Valentine’s Day

Partly, you’re bringing in sales right now – that is your urgent job – but you’re also thinking strategically about the future – that is your important job.

Let’s look at how to balance the two:

Black Friday

Black Friday is next week, the 27th November, with Cyber Monday on 30th November. These are big online shopping days, not just for those looking for discounts, but also in general: November payday happens, and we as a society actually acknowledge that Christmas is coming.

In good news, this year there’s a huge movement for shopping small and shopping early. Royal Mail are sharing the message, and Google are running tv ads about supporting small businesses.

Black Friday can be noisy – lots of big brands and businesses now rely on a Black Friday week to generate discounted sales. And that can be off-putting for small businesses who feel their voices are too quiet.

As I’ve said in my Tuesday pep talks over on Instagram, it’s still worth sharing your products over Black Friday weekend, even if you don’t discount. People are still looking to shop.

Here are my top tips for Black Friday weekend (and the rest of December):

  • Post regularly on social media, ideally scheduling ahead of time
  • Send out an email (two if you’re running a discount) – read this blog post for a content rundown
  • Be really clear about how people can order from you (this is especially good in IG Stories, but also on your feed):
    • Where do they need to go?
    • When do they need to order by?
    • What’s your experience with delivery right now? Even if it’s good, say so!
    • Can you gift wrap and send direct to their recipient?
    • Make it REALLY EASY to place an order!

Valentine’s Day

But here’s the thing: Valentine’s Day is hot on the tails of Christmas. Urgh, I know. The Worst.

As your business coach and mentor, I am morally obliged to remind you that 2021 is coming, and you, amazing human, deserve to succeed in the coming year, as well as in the coming weeks.

So absolutely take care of yourself and your orders and maximise this opportunity. AND let’s think long-term, too.

Here’s how to spend 15 minutes on Valentine’s Day that will pay off big time:

  • Book a photoshoot in January. Seriously. Do it now. Whether it’s your own time or with a professional. (I recommend Girl Behind The Lens for remote product photography.)
  • Plant the product development seeds in your creative brain. You don’t have to design everything before Christmas, but maybe jot down some ideas of what you’d like to share for Valentine’s Day.
  • Mark some key dates on your calendar, like when you’ll open your Valentine’s Day shop (I recommend 25th January), and when you’ll need to upload your listings (probably the week before!).

I have made all this take even less time and feel even easier with the Valentine’s Day Launch Plan, which not only has a printable calendar for you, but also then has all the marketing content templates for email, Instagram, and Facebook from pre-launch to last order dates. (Seriously, I just want to remove the obstacles getting in your way.)

So there’s a quick rundown of how to juggle immediate and long-term success. Let me finish with a reminder that I absolutely believe in you AND you are worth taking care of. Sleep. Water. Good music. Great snacks. Ask for help.

You’ve got this.

Jenny x

PS That link again to the save-you-time, make-you-money Valentine’s Day Launch Plan.

Progress not Perfection: Black Friday Eve

Tomorrow is a big day for those of us in retail: Black Friday. Whether you’re getting involved in discounts, small business social campaigns, or #noblackfriday, it marks the start of when customers start shopping in earnest.

It’s entirely possible that, this time tomorrow, you’ll still be working. And that, next time you look up, it’ll be Christmas Eve.

A little preparation ritual

This evening I invite you to do three things:

  1. Set an intention for the next few days. Perhaps you want to stay as calm as possible. Maybe it’s about reminding yourself that you’re working towards business success. Or maybe you just want to take every moment as it comes. Make a note of your intention and pop it somewhere you’ll see it.
  2. Have a little tidy up. Full disclosure: I’m not the neatest person. So when things get busy, I have to remind myself that just 10 minutes to clear a little space around my laptop will help me feel better. Even if you just take out the bins, you’ll feel good about it tomorrow.
  3. Stock up on things that will nourish and motivate you. Your self-care is why we’re here. And if you’re not cared for, it’s going to be really hard to get through the highs and lows of the next month. I’ve included some ideas below.

A few ideas of things to get or do this evening. Tweak as necessary.

  • A water bottle or jug and glass to keep nearby so you’re hydrated.
  • Your favourite tea or coffee. Go to town. Get the good stuff.
  • Cereal bars. Mince pies. Popcorn. Easy, store-able snacks.
  • Hand sanitiser. Hand soap. Tissues.
  • Hot water bottle. Blankets. Jumpers
  • Put a wash on. Make sure you’ve got clean socks.
  • Decide, buy, and prepare meals for the next 3 to 5 days.
  • Clear your emails.
  • Make sure your favourite mug is clean.
  • Go to bed half an hour earlier than you usually do / thought you would.

Ready? Feeling cared for? In need of some encouragement? You can get all the Progress not Perfection emails directly in your inbox every single morning for free. Sign up here to get the goodness!

Jenny x

PS Care packages go out on Monday! There’s still time to get these limited edition bundles of joy…

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Here's the thing: incentives

incentives: how to get customers to buy nowWhen we think about incentives, we often think about money. That to incentivise a customer to buy, we have to offer a discount. Or to incentivise a member of staff to work late or quicker, we need to offer them a bonus or overtime pay.

In a culture so bound by monetary value, it’s no surprise that this is the case. Want something delivered today? Sure, you just have to pay for it. Want to make the sale immediately? No problem, just remove your profit margin.

I could write for hours on our relationships with money, and especially on the ‘need to earn more and spend less’ mentality that I often hear from clients. I really could, but I’ll save it for another time.

Because right now, on the cusp of Christmas and Black Friday (a week today), I want to suggest that encouraging customers to buy is not simply about 15% off, or buy one get one free.

I was talking to a client the other day, and I asked, ‘What incentive can you offer the customer?’ She immediately went to discounts and giveaways, which made me realise that that’s still the first reaction to so many people who want to boost sales in the short term.

But let’s just pause for a moment.

There are lots of reasons customers decide to buy a particular item at a particular time. There are many millions of pounds spent on trying to discover customer motivations and how to capitalise on them, but we don’t need that research. We already know.

Customers buy because:

  • They like a product (for themselves or someone else)
  • They trust the vendor/maker/seller
  • It matches their value perception of the product
  • It’s the right time for them to buy it (they were just thinking about something like that for baby niece Lela, and this fits right in)
  • There’s a time limit on the availability of the product (in essence, FOMO)
  • And yes, because there’s a money-saving opportunity

Customers are moved to make a purchase based on one or all of those reasons, or variations of them. And every customer has their own beliefs and values that make them different. Some customers are generous towards others, so it’s very easy for them to make a decision to purchase a gift, but much harder for them to decide they’ll buy for themselves. Some customers are the exact opposite.

And I say all this knowing that Black Friday is a good opportunity to boost sales, and that sometimes a discount or a giveaway boosts engagement and results in sales anyway. You can make good, strong business decisions to offer a monetary incentive, but let me just offer some thoughts before you do:

  • Do you always offer discounts and giveaways to boost sales? Doing this regularly may de-value your brand. Save discounts for special occasions, and be creative about giveaways. Make them generous and focused on a particular goal (eg getting rid of old stock, or building your email subscriber list).
  • Do the customers who are buying your discounted product also buy from you at full price, or will they in the future? If your discount attracts people who only buy from you when your products are on offer, it might be a sign that you need to add in a lower price point (that still offers you at least 25% profit).
  • Which products can take the discount? Both in terms of profit margin and sales status – bestsellers often don’t need to be discounted to be popular, and are more likely to be de-valued by a big discount.
  • Can you save discounts for special occasions? Like twice-yearly sales, or birthday sales, or launch discounts. You may find it better to offer discounts in a strategic, planned way, rather than simply as a push to get people to buy because it’s slow for you right now.

I’m not saying never offer discounts – just be confident they’re the right thing for your business right now.

And if you need a few ideas to offer non-financial incentives, here are some goodies:

  • Buy now, while stocks last! A great one for Christmas, and definitely motivated by FOMO.
  • Don’t end up in the dog-house this Christmas (buy one of our products instead). A good one for targeting men at Christmas.
  • Here’s something extra-special that’ll suit you really well. Customers need reminding that you understand them, and understand what they’re looking for.
  • How can you even resist something so beautiful / cute / useful?! Especially good for baby and pet products – things that tug at the heartstrings. Or remind customers how well you solve a problem they’re having.
  • You can get this by tomorrow if you order now. Be explicit about your turnaround times, especially in the run up to Christmas. Speed sells, especially for desperate customers.
  • Similarly: you can get this sent to a friend tomorrow, and it’ll be gift wrapped. Mid-December marketing.

Incentives are basically anything that completes this sentence: Buy now, because…

You can finish it however you want! You can use whatever little extras you like. You can also simply point out how awesome you are. ‘Buy now because our customer service is great’. ‘Buy now because this is a bestseller and we know people love it’. The options are really endless.

But I encourage you to see incentives differently than simply money off.

What’s your experience? What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Where do you get stuck? I’d love to hear!


Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.