Tips for Developing an Effective Black Friday Marketing Campaign

Association of Strategic Marketing
November 13, 2012 — 2,609 views  
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Black Friday is traditionally said to be the day that retailers start turning a profit for the year. The term refers to the retailer’s bottom line going from red to black, and it is the day the holiday shopping season unofficially starts. Therefore, it’s important to market Black Friday’s discounts and sales effectively. Everything from the timing of the release of the ad to the time the store opens can affect the customer turnout on Black Friday.

Get in the Holiday Spirit

The holidays are festive and exciting, and holiday decorations put customers at ease and make retail stores stand out. Consider decorating the inside and outside of your store and highlighting your sale signs with holiday lights. Holiday lights draw the eye, and once the customer is looking at your store, they will be more apt to read your sale signs and enter your store looking for more discounts and special offers.

Ad Release Timing

Most companies release Black Friday ads the week of Thanksgiving. To get a competitive edge, consider releasing your Black Friday ad early. This can be done online on the store’s website, by traditional mail or both. By releasing the Black Friday ad early, you are gathering customer attention early and giving customers more time to preplan their Black Friday shopping sprees.

Store Opening

Many brick and mortar stores are opening early this year. Walmart and Toys R’ Us have already stated that they will be opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The early opening hours are an effort to get shoppers to start spending their holiday budgets early. The collective thinking is that the first couple stores a shopper visits will be the stores where they will spend the most money. Therefore, it’s a good idea for a traditional retailer to consider opening their store early in order to get more of a customer’s holiday budget.


Black Friday is traditionally a day full of deep discounts for popular items, including electronics, clothes, toys and holiday decorations. Take the time to figure out what your customers want for the holidays and offer discounts on those items. Deeply discounted items are also called “loss leaders.” “Loss leaders” are the items that get customers in the store. Once the customers are in the store they are more likely to buy other things that are not on sale.

For Example:

Your retail store decides to advertise deep discounts on 22” HD TVs. Once the customer is inside the store, they decide to purchase the HD TV, a DVR recorder, a box of DVDs and a can of air. The discounted TV is what brought them into the store, and while they were there, they picked up $230 worth of additional merchandise.

Social Media

Take the time to reward your social media followers. Put exclusive ads and discounts on your social media webpages. The discounts could include percentages off the total order or dollar amounts off the total order or exclusive sale items. Customers love exclusive discounts and rewarding loyalty pays off in the long run.

Word of mouth is also effective on social media. Loyal customers, who see your discounted ads on your social media pages, are more apt to tell their social media friends about your discounts. This translates into more followers and more traffic into your store.

Email Drip Campaigns

Consider doing an email drip campaign for your email subscribers. The email drip campaign could start off with early sales on small items and build to the bigger sales on Black Friday. The key to creating a successful email drip campaign is to keep the emails short, easily scannable and to the point. This means that the customers receiving the email should immediately see an image of the sale item, the link to the sale item, the discounted price and the percentage saved.

It’s also important not to bombard your customers with emails. During the two weeks before Thanksgiving, send no more than one exclusive sale email per day and make sure the sale items and discounts are different each day. Also remember to create professional yet catchy subject headings for each email.


Consider instituting a layaway program just for the holidays. Start the layaway program on Thanksgiving and end it on Christmas Eve. By implementing layaway, you are helping customers buy more without using credit cards or other high interest payment options. You are also letting them know that you care about their budgets and their ability to pay. Layaway departments are very well received and appreciated by customers during the holidays. 

Layaway departments are especially helpful for customers with young children. This is because young and school age children tend to go through the house looking for holiday presents. By instituting a layaway program, you are helping mothers and fathers keep the idea of Santa Claus alive and well in their children’s minds and helping them hide the gifts.

Customer Service

During the holidays, offer exceptional customer service and quality and satisfaction guarantees. Customers want great deals during the holidays, but if something happens to the product, they want to know that they can bring it back and exchange it or receive some type of store credit. By offering exchanges and store credits, you are not hindering your business or your bottom line. You are creating happy and loyal customers for the holidays and potentially into the New Year.


During the holidays, it’s important not to neglect your online customers. Every year more and more customers buy their holiday presents online. Remember to offer exclusive online deals during the week of Thanksgiving and on Black Friday. For added appeal, you could even offer free shipping all week.

Don’t Forget Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday has become just as big as Black Friday for retailers with online stores. Don’t forget to offer special discounts for your online customers on Cyber Monday. Discounts could include percentages off the total order or specific sale items such as clothes, electronics and holiday essentials such as wrapping paper.

Association of Strategic Marketing