Nothing puts you into the Christmas Spirit quite like seeing two adults engaged in a steel-cage match on the floor of a Walmart trying to wrestle the last Barbie DreamHorse from one another, am I right? Well, that season is just about upon us. The fuel for these amateur acts of athleticism are the slashed prices and time-sensitive deals the big retailers tout in ad after ad after ad running up to that Friday after Thanksgiving. Black Friday – when most retailers finally move from being in the red to being in the black.

What can a small business do to rise above the din and break through the clutter surrounding Black Friday without breaking the bank? The good news is that there are some themes and tactics you can implement to stand out from the pack.

Hold a “Take Black Friday Off” Sale.

Let’s face it – for some people, the last thing they want to do after a day of eating turkey and pumpkin pie is venture out into the madness of Black Friday. For these people, a “Black Friday Off” event or promotion is just the thing. Through your website, social media profile and in-store promotion, let people know they can purchase “Black Friday Discounts” on your website that can be redeemed later on during the holiday shopping season. Or feature a series of products that people can order for special prices on Black Friday that you will fulfill later during the holiday buying season. This provides you with your share of the Black Friday gift budget but allows customers the luxury of shopping at their leisure.

Skip the Early Morning Madness.

Don’t bother trying to compete with big-box stores for early-morning deals; that’s not the strong suit of most small, local businesses anyway. Save your special sales and promotions for later in the day. Instead of forcing your customers to get up while it’s still dark out, invite them to hit snooze. You can still open at your regular time, but there’s no need for you and your staff to be on dawn patrol. Be sure to let your customers know about your sale well ahead of time. An email, Facebook or in-store effort to communicate this can be effective. What’s more, take the funds you’d spend on an ad campaign and invest them to partner with a local caterer to offer customers some refreshments after they’ve been battling in the department stores.

Team up with Other Small Businesses.

Because it can be tough to make your voice alone be heard over the advertising din of corporate chains, partner with other small businesses in your neighborhood and focus your efforts on a common goal: attracting shoppers. Create a Small Business Saturday event, and leverage the American Express Small Business Saturday assets. Bring in a Food Truck or arrange for a visit from That Jolly Old Elf (Macy’s doesn’t have the market on Santa cornered!) The greater the number of participating businesses, the more tempting your promotion is for shoppers.

Leverage, and Reward your Social Media followers.

Growing your social media engagement is critical in today’s marketing landscape. One way to do it is to share great content. Another is to give your social media likers and followers an extra boost this holiday season by offering them special discounts. Starting on Black Friday, offer a special deal every day throughout the holiday shopping season. Post a memorable discount code for customers to mention at checkout. Another idea is to incentivize your followers to share posts and get them liked; have a contest which provides prizes for the most widely-shared post. Don’t forget to include the hashtag #Blackfriday (and preferably another one that’s unique to your business) for Twitter and Instagram.

Offer Gift Cards.

Gift cards are hugely popular; according to the NRF, the average American Holiday shopper will spend at least $153 on gift cards. Almost 75 percent of people bought at least one gift card, according to Gift Card Granny. So they are in demand. Additionally, they’re also great for business because 72 percent of redeemers, according to the NRF, spend more than the value of their gift card. Sorry for all the numbers, but all of this goes to show that Gift Cards add up! Make sure they are in your Black Friday and Small Business Saturday quiver. Another way to compound gift card sales:  email your best customers and offer them an even better deal on gift cards when they shop during the Black Friday weekend.

Give back to The Community in the Season of Giving.

Introduce a positive Community Difference into your Black Friday marketing campaign. In addition to helping your community, it can be good for your business. This is especially true if your target includes Millennials, seventy percent of whom say they are more likely to support a business that gives back to local charities (if price and quality are comparable). Team up with a local food bank or shelter and offer customers a discount or free gift with purchase when they donate a nonperishable food item or gently used clothing. Promote your food or clothing drive on social media with a designated hashtag, and spread the message by inviting your fans to tag their friends in the post.

It Pays to Be Social.

The Thanksgiving Holiday is a homecoming; everyone travels, gathers, eats and then … adjourns to Facebook to connect with far flung friends. Take advantage of this. First, make sure you are doing everything you can to drive organic viewing of your posts:  use hashtags, “like” your own posts (it helps more people to see them), and make sure privacy settings allow for sharing. If you want to invest marketing dollars in social, boost your posts or create Facebook Ads, which are highly-targeted by geography and interests. With Facebook ads, you can put that hand-knit scarf, locally-sourced jam or recycled glass wind chimes directly in front of someone looking for those gifts for friends, family or themselves.

For small businesses, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce during the Holiday Shuffle. We’re here to help. If you’d like any additional ideas, or some help with the social media angle, we here at Voncor Communications can be of service. Contact us today and we’ll help make this the Blackest Black Friday your business has ever had.