The Deal of a Lifetime

What “Black Friday” Has to Teach Us About Business

The traditional Thanksgiving feast began as a way to celebrate good fortune. As the years went by, the feast evolved into a tradition that’s usually accompanied by grand parades, backyard football, and four-day weekends. However, in recent years, the turkey dinner has transformed yet again–and this time, it’s more about the carb loading than it is the Thanksgiving tradition.

As Black Friday continues to spill over into Thursday (and Saturday… and Sunday), dedicated Black Friday shoppers are forced to forgo the family gatherings in effort to make it to the mall on time. Their Thanksgiving dinners serve only to fuel them for the long night ahead–a night that will likely result in tears, hysteria, or both.

In any case, there are a few lessons to be gleaned from the Black Friday madness–lessons that you can incorporate into your own business long after the holiday shopping rush is over.

For one, when it comes to your marketing, keep in mind that people will go crazy for a good deal. Take, for example, the infamous Black Friday doorbusters. No one really needs a new toaster, especially for Christmas, but when it’s marked down 80 percent for a limited time only, you’d be surprised just how tempting that new toaster can be. Black Friday shoppers usually end up spending more money than they originally set out to spend on items they didn’t set out to buy. That’s the power of a good discount.

Of course, the discount is made all the more powerful with a strong call to action and a pressure-inducing deadline. 80 percent off a toaster? Tempting. 80 percent off a toaster for the next 15 minutes? Or for the first five people? Downright impossible to ignore.

The same principles can be used to boost your business. Don’t be afraid to offer your clients a deliciously good deal every now and then. Even if you break even, you’ll have accomplished the seemingly impossible task of getting new clients through your doors. And, as you know, clients who have worked with you once are more than likely to work with you again in the future… long after your “sale” has ended and the deadline has passed.

There’s Black Friday lessons to be learned on the customer service side as well. The entire experience is only enjoyable if the employees you encounter are pleasant and the people in your party are willing to participate. Likewise, your business can only be successful if your employees are dedicated to the cause and eager to dive in. In fact, a recent study concluded that just one negative Nancy can lower the productivity of their team by 40 percent. Weed out the unwilling and fortify your team with enthusiastic employees.

Finally, the number one rule of Black Friday (according to Murphy, at least) is “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” It’s not a rule you should necessarily apply to your life, but when it comes to your business, it’s usually safe to assume that something could potentially go catastrophically wrong. In which case, there’s nothing like a good back up plan. It’s great to have a plan in place when attacking a big project, but keep in mind that plans change–be adaptable! A plan B could mean the difference between failure and success.

So you see, Black Friday is more than just great deals and doorbusters; it’s a (granted, somewhat extreme) example of what it takes to run a business.

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