For most small businesses Black Friday is the biggest sale of the year. It’s called Black Friday because this is the day when businesses go from being in the red (losing money) to being in the black (making a profit). This is true for huge national companies and it also can be true for small, creative businesses like mine.
When I first began selling sewing patterns and sewing supplies online I didn’t realize how important Black Friday was. I didn’t prepare and then all of a sudden the morning after Thanksgiving I woke up and saw that all of these other makers has come up with Black Friday deals. I totally missed out. That was 2013.
In 2014 I got wise and set up a Black Friday coupon code for my Etsy shop. I was excited. I got prepared for a rush of orders. And nothing happened.
In that moment I felt like casting blame. This was Etsy’s fault for being too big of a marketplace. This was my customer’s fault for shopping at big box stores instead of shopping small. Most of all, this was embarrassing. Running a sale when nobody buys is almost as a bad as throwing a party when nobody comes.
That’s when I came to an important realization: you have to prepare all year-long in order to have a successful Black Friday sale. The work required to make Black Friday a smash hit begins on the first day of January.
I want to show you a graph:
These are my sales results for Black Friday weekend 2016 in my online shop here on my site. Like most businesses I set up a special sale – 25% off everything in my shop plus free shipping on orders over $50. The sale grossed $3,841.17 and made a net profit of $3,476.61. That’s up $735.90 from last year.
How did it work this year when back in 2013 it didn’t work?
The answer is email marketing.
At 5:00 am on Black Friday I sent out an email announcing the sale to my list of 14,000. The email was simple, with big photos of my products and a clear call to action (I love Apple’s Black Friday emails and used the as a model). I made $922.05 that day.
The big change I made this year was to send another email the next day, for Small Business Saturday. Honestly I was a bit worried about overwhelming people, but I got brave and hit send and it was totally worth it. That email out performed the first and I made $1190.29 the second day.
I sent a third email out for Cyber Monday and although it didn’t perform quite as well, it was still worth doing.
You Can Do It Too, But You Have To Start Now
I realize it’s easy to shrug off these results by saying, “Well, her list is big. My list is small (or I don’t have a list), so I this won’t work for me.” And that’s where I want to reassure you that you can definitely do this. But…you have to start now. You can’t wait until August, or October, and expect big results. This is a strategy that builds slowly and now is the time to begin.
I’m really excited to be launching my first self-published course on email marketing. It’s called Email Marketing Jumpstart and it will provide you with a solid foundation in email marketing, setting your business up for success all year-long, and especially for the next holiday season when you’re ready to run a sale.
The course is a combination of short videos (5-15 minutes each), worksheets, and resources that spell out exactly what to do. It focuses on using MailChimp because MailChimp is free until you have 2,000 subscribers, and because it helps you to make beautiful emails without knowing any code. I actually take you into MailChimp and show you how to set everything up and get started the right way. You’ll figure out what to include in your emails, how often to send them, and how to be confident that you’re not annoying your subscribers.
Email Marketing Jumpstart is a self-guided course which means you work through it at your own pace. I’ll be there to answer your questions and help you along, but you can begin anytime.
The course launches on January 2. Right now, through December 31, I’m offering a special presale price.
Begin 2017 by investing in your business and make email marketing a priority. Get the course and you’ll have what you need to make next year your most successful year yet.