IMRG and Barclaycard offer small businesses top tips to make the most of peak


With Black Friday on the horizon, IMRG and Barclaycard have teamed up to launch a mini report advising small businesses on how to make the most of the peak trading period.

Businesses of all sizes will be thinking of how to generate marketing noise and make bargains available to shoppers. Large retailers can often absorb these hits to margins, but for SMEs it’s a tougher prospect, say researchers.

However, that doesn’t mean SMEs can’t take advantage of Black Friday, the report concludes. And it warns against the dangers of discounting to win sales.

IMRG report editor, Andy Mulcahy, states: “Remember that Black Friday has no cultural significance in the UK, so it’s what you make it really. By using a bit of imagination, it is theoretically possible for businesses of any size and type to run successful Black Friday campaigns without necessarily needing to discount heavily (or even at all).”

The IMRG and Barclaycard Black Friday for SMEs report offers businesses top tips for Black Friday success. They include:

  • Running community events: independent retailers with stores often convey a sense that they are part of the local community, and this can be turned to advantage during busy shopping periods
  • Promoting the fact you are not discounting: Jigsaw did this effectively in 2015 and Oddbins has tried similar tactics
  • Focusing on showcasing expertise: having a special focus on customer service may prove to be a differentiator
  • Showcasing green credentials: show you are a retailer with rock-solid principles may be more important to some shoppers than rock-bottom prices
  • Make your marketing messages more personalised: a bit of personalisation can go a long way and creates a good opportunity for SMEs and independent retailers to stand out

The report also offers some alternative discounting ideas including getting engaged with charities; discounting positive ranges such as healthy food and drink or exercise equipment; creating intelligent bundles of products and creating specific offers for different customer segments.

Greg Liset, head of small business, Barclaycard, says one way for SMEs to capitalise on the sales period is to adopt some tricks of their larger counterparts.

“For instance, it’s absolutely key to build anticipation and urgency,” he says. “To do this, you need to make sure consumers are aware of your offers. Emails, adverts, social media updates, and impactful website messages in the weeks leading up to Black Friday are just some of the ways you can get your message out there.

“Once you have people in store, make sure you highlight the number of products remaining to create a real urge to buy.”

Small businesses can also leverage their unique position in the market, for example, by highlighting their status as part of the community high street, Liset adds. “Even little gestures in store, such as providing free seasonal food and drink, can help to turn your shop into a neighbourhood meeting point as the festive period kicks off – potentially leading to many more sales.

“Remind shoppers that their purchases are supporting a small business and local communities. The concept of ‘buying local’ is a growing trend, so you should try to take advantage of it.”