For the past few years, I’ve been adamant about not having a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale for my jewelry business.
There are several reasons for this. One was simply that I started holding a major birthday sale at the end of October, and I didn’t want to hold another sale so close to that one. The other was that I didn’t want to contribute to the cacophony of noise happening that weekend, particularly on Instagram.
But this year, I’m changing my tune and running a sale that weekend. This is partly because I came up with the most fun promotional idea that ties into one of my latest collections. But it’s also because I came to an even bigger realization.
People want to spend money this weekend. Why not make it easier for them to spend it with me?
Now, I realize that hearing me make a statement like that may make you a bit uncomfortable. But give me a chance to unpack it, and you’ll see that its not at all motivated by anything icky or gross.
First, if you’ve never been much of a shopper, the idea that people want to spend money this weekend may seem weird to you. But I grew up in a family of shoppers, and the post-Thanksgiving shopping period was practically an Olympic sport. And it had nothing to do with wanting to score amazing deals. It was actually just an activity that my family and I enjoyed together.
In fact, as I write this, I’m remembering that I need to text some friends and family to make plans for Black Friday. Because in my world, shopping = fun. And while you might have the reverse reaction, know that there are plenty of people who not only want to spend money this weekend, but they’ve been actively planning on it.
Of course, if you’re a person with a conscience (which I am) it’s hard to ignore the seedier side of Black Friday weekend. The crowds. The fights. And the massive spending, much of which will go on credit cards already loaded with debt.
As an artist, maker, or small business owner, it’s easy to look at all that ugliness and decide just to opt out of the weekend.
But opting out to combat consumerism isn’t going to fix anything. That’s because, as an artist, maker, or small business owner, you aren’t part of the problem. You are the solution.
People aren’t amassing debt because they’re going crazy buying handmade goods. They’re amassing debt because major corporations poor millions into convincing them they need to save $100 on a TV that’s 1” bigger than the one they bought last year.
But as I’ve mentioned, there are plenty of people who are planning on spending money this weekend, not because they’ve been brainwashed into seeking deals, but simply because, for them, shopping = fun. (As a good friend pointed out to me, there are also people planning on spending money this weekend because the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales make it much more financially viable to buy presents for everyone in their family. Which just proves that there are plenty of non-icky reasons people are planning to shop this weekend.)
Which brings me back to my second reason for holding a Black Friday sale. If those people are planning on spending money this weekend, why not make it easier for them to spend that money with me? Not because I want their money. But because I know that I’m producing small batch goods locally, in the most sustainable way I know how, and that’s a much better thing for someone to spend their money on than a new TV, when the one they have works just fine, or on a bunch of crappy clothes produced in a factory with horrible working conditions.
And I know the same is true of your work.
So my call to action to you this weekend is this. Even if you don’t want to hold a sale (and you’re under no obligation to do so) stay public this weekend. Remind your audience why they should consider spending money with you. Remind them how much joy your products bring into their lives.
Because people are going to spend money this weekend either way. Why not make it easier for them to spend it with you?
PS. If you are thinking about holding a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday sale, here are a few tips to help make it awesome and less stressful:
1. Focus on your email list, not social media. In my experience running a variety of sales for my jewelry business, most of the buyers have come from my email list. (In fact, during last year’s birthday sale, I had one buyer come from Instagram, two from Facebook, and the other 60+ came from my email list!) Yes, your email list is probably smaller than your social media following. But it’s also a much more loyal audience and by focusing on them, you can also avoid trying to shout over all the social media noise happening this weekend.
(Don’t have an email list? Head to Mailchimp, sign up for a free one, and then encourage your social followers to jump on!)
2. Let people know the sale is coming. As I mentioned before, many people who spend money on Black Friday weekend actually plan on spending money in advance. Let them know beforehand (both via email and social media) so that they can add your business into their weekend shopping plans. I’m planning on emailing my jewelry list on Wednesday with an exact run-down of my Black Friday weekend sales, so that they can plan their purchases instead of feeling pressured and rushed on the actual day.
3. Don’t worry about sales targets. One of the reasons businesses feel the pressure to promote, promote, promote over this weekend is because they’ve set aggressive sales goals that have to be met. Trying to hit those goals often becomes the reason that you send that one more email or that one additional Instagram posts that sends you sale (in your audience’s eyes) form awesome to annoying. Yes, it’s important to have sales goals for your business, but that doesn’t mean you should put pressure on one weekend to try and hit those goals.
4. Practice gratitude. It’s ironic that Black Friday happens the day after a holiday that’s all about giving thanks, but that actually gives you the opportunity to position your sale different. Instead of positioning your sale as a “get this deal before the world ends,” chose to position it as a thank you to your audience for supporting your business. Let them know that you appreciate their support whether they choose to buy anything this weekend or not, and you’ll feel good about the promotions you’re putting out there!