Before I start the post, let me just point out that if you are in a hurray to get some Black Friday Deals for your business or non-profit, race to the end of this post. No lines to stand in and no need to feel guilty about not shopping locally. If you’ve got a bit more time, check out the post.

No. 1: The first experience your potential customer or client has with you is probably online.

If you’re a retailer, you already know one way Black Friday affects your business. Consumers have come to expect major sales around Thanksgiving. Notice I said “around Thanksgiving” and not just after Thanksgiving. The deep discounts are starting earlier and going longer. Even Apple has begun to offer discounts on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday discounting is training consumers to look for, and wait for, big bargains in everything from electronics to consulting to health care — unless a compelling reason to buy now is demonstrated. But this doesn’t mean all businesses, even retail businesses, should follow the herd off the pricing cliff. Businesses die as the profit margins drop, so make certain your business can afford to offer deep discounts before following the trend. There is a Black Friday Backlash movement and an alternative. The alternative is to increase value. People buy on perceived value, not on price.

Notice I said perceived value. People moved to shopping on Amazon not simply for the discounts, but because of the convenience, the selection, the ability to see reviews by other supposed shoppers, the on-target suggestions, and the swiftness of the check-out and shipping.The overall experience of shopping Amazon, certainly in the early days was higher than the standard big bookstore with insufficient staff and selection often limited to bestsellers. Studies have shown that if customers are faced with the same product in-store, they are usually willing to pay a little more to have it immediately and they willing to pay more for a better experience.

How can you improve the experience your customers have?

Keep in mind, however, that your developing relationships with potential customers and clients long before you actually know they exist. Black Friday, along with the internet in general, has trained us to research products and services online before we actually take action towards buying.

So what kind of online experience are your potential customers or clients having?

No. 2: We are looking for answers to our questions or solutions to our problems.

Black Friday answers the question of “How do I get really impressive gifts on my budget?” and solves the problem of “What do I get for X (X often being “my family” meaning “myself”)?” And the answers and solutions can be found in 3-5 seconds. Actually, getting your hands on the solution may take quite a bit longer, but with all the promotions and ads, its easy to find in 3-5 seconds — just follow the charging stampede!

The reality is that, as consumers, we have less patience than we did before the internet and telecommunications changed the world. When we are looking for our answers and solutions, we want some indication that we’re in the right place within 3-5 seconds. Then we start the timer again and expect to see more relevant information in 3-5 seconds. What we don’t want to do is plow through a bunch of information about products and services and information that is directly relevant to our question or problem. (I don’t care where you went to school or all the different kinds of things you can do, I want to know if you have any clients or done any work similar to what I need to have done.)

Which means we need to demonstrate to potential customers or clients how we have the answers and solutions their questions and problems quickly. We can demonstrate in a variety of ways — testimonials, case studies, blog posts, videos, and so on — but we need to focus on what that specific customer or client is looking for (“I don’t just want a CPA, I want a CPA who understands 1099 contract work taxes.”). We have to demonstrate to — not tell — our clients and customers why we are a better value.

During the Black Friday sales, Amazon puts those deals front and center on its Home Page and keeps changing the deals as things sell. And Amazon even has special web page just to promote the latest Black Friday Deals and then creates sub-pages for specific topics so people looking for Black Friday Deals on Books aren’t having to slog through the deals on Electronics.

Are you highlighting your best answers and solutions on your home page? Are you creating special posts or pages targeting specific segments of your market with information and demonstrations of your value in providing answers and solutions to their specific needs?

A classic case in point was my need recently for custom t-shirt and specialty advertising printing. I wanted to work with someone local but when I looked online none of my local suppliers answered my questions about my specific needs (Can you do 2-color silk screen printing on poly/cotton grey shirts and black tote bags? Can you do it, with delivery, within two weeks? Do you seem to be knowledgeable about modern digital art formats? Are you experienced with the kind of designs and work I need? How much does it cost to get 50 shirts now and 50 later versus doing all 100 at the same time?). I had to call and leave a message about making an appointment to meet just to get my questions answered. Meanwhile, a quick Google search found me three online-based companies that not only answered all my questions, but one of them had me upload my design, edit the proof copy, suggest I split my order to ensure delivery of the most critical product, and give me a delivery date before the other companies even called me back.

Companies offering Black Friday Deals know exactly what their customers are looking for and prepare lists of the most popular and commonly sough products for their target audiences. You should do the same. Create a list of the most frequently asked questions, the most common problems you solve, and post the answers and solutions that you have or can provide prominently on your site, starting with the Home page, but also grouped around specific audience needs. For example, if I’m looking information about your silk screen printing on t-shirts, I shouldn’t have to hunt through information about printing on glassware or pens.

How fast can your potential customers or clients see the proof that you have the answers and solutions and provide better value?

And No 3: Black Friday offers great deals for your business.

Sure, we look to find a way to justify buying that super deal on a 60” plasma TV or that iPad, but in reality it’s also when most business owners start thinking about there real needs for next year, including their marketing needs. More and more B2B companies are jumping into the frenzy with special deals on business-oriented products and services. It can be a great time to pick up some serious savings on updating your website, grabbing some training or even some business consulting. So while everyone else is battling to save on the latest Wii, consider picking up some discounts for improving your business next year.

Here are few from some online marketing solutions deals I can recommend:

Bluehost Hosting Service is offering Special Pricing from Black Friday through Cyber Monday which means you can get hosting for as low as US$3.95/month. FYI, I’m about to grab one of these deals to see about moving all of my sites to them. I was very pleased with the service when I did a test site through them and my current hosting service is having some growing pains so I’m going to test Bluehost again.

Dotster!is also running a Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale with 25% OFF new products and services. Use the CODE: BLACK25 at checkout.

I believe strongly in separating my domain name registrar from my hosting service because I’m much more likely to change my hosting service and keeping the hosting and domain name registration separate makes it much easier to move a site. I’ve used Dotster as my domain name registrar for over a decade and with up to 65 separate domains.

The folks at IttyBiz are doing a Black Friday Only Sale on all of their small business educational products. I’ve got no affiliate relationship with them, but have taken a number of their courses and find them not only knowledgeable but very responsive to the small business and solopreneur. So if you decide to give them a try, let Naomi and Dave know I sent you. Check it out:

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