Photo of Cliff Courtney
Date: 2018-11-20 19:56:01
By: Cliff Courtney
Date: 2018-11-20 19:56:01

This is it. The retail event to end them all. When the big, the small, and even the incompetent retailer can literally stumble into their biggest day of the year just by opening their doors. And so begins Lost opportunity with a capital L.

Black Friday (BF) is the second busiest brick and mortar-shopping day of the year. Now, a four-day rite of shopping passage that’s forecast to generate $90.14 Billion (Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined), which is up a jaw-dropping $30.57 billion from 2017.

This particular November, the official opening of retail hunting season opens on Friday, November 23rd, and once again it’ll be a showdown of the big guns while smaller retailers are left shooting blanks. That’s because Black Friday has now become about the no-box big box, meaning Amazon, and little boxes, specifically phones: Yet more than clicking, the numbers say 100+ million souls will be walking into a store on Black Friday, which also kicks off the busiest six weeks of the year for retailers as 30% of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas.


Stumbling around in the dark, grasping for heart-stopping, adrenaline-flowing ideas but coming up empty is an epidemic: Best Buy’s big idea was their November 8th start. Yawn. Target had daily deals on kids’ items, also in November. Hmm. Walmart’s breakthrough idea was to offer its best online deals starting 11/21. Really?

C’mon now, it’s time to get creative, get aggressive… get Faustian if you have to, but start tapping that right brain or be left with the scraps or merely expected returns, not epic ones.

• Where are the multi-channel retailers who are smartly taking shoppers off the market early: Register online weeks before and on BF enjoy early admission to the brick and mortar; even deeper discounts; How about an up-close parking spot? This is about more than expanding the holiday window, this is about leveraging the multi-channel mechanism.

• Where is the Petco or PetSmart special discount on black collars and leashes (most popular color BTW) or special deals for Black Labs? Bounce those buyers back for the real pet owner crack… food.

• Given the day before Black Friday is the busiest travel day of the year, where is the rental car ½ price bounce back on all black vehicles, even better as a surprise and delight when you drop the vehicle off?

• Where are the non-traditional retailers who know that while women make 80%+ of all household purchases, dad has Friday off and football is nowhere to be found? And where is the network that gives him Friday football (seems like a fine day to start a traditionally clad in black Oakland Raiders game to drive ad $$)? Where is the consumer electronics store that gets him his new 70″ TV the day before Thanksgiving football instead of the day after? Where is the furniture retailer that gives him free Wi-Fi and coffee (with opt-in registration) and a hangout zone while his wife melts down her credit card?

• Where are the niche retailers leveraging viral ideas on black products to compensate for their lack of media weight: Car dealers offering deep discounts on black cars? Home Depot highlighting Black and Decker? Any restaurant selling Black Angus burgers? Anyone who can release a special edition black anything? Imagine if Apple released a one-off black iPod for a one-day-only BF promotion. They could charge more and still cause a riot, a.k.a. the Double Retail Whammy.

• Where are the BF apps that allow you to build shopping lists, find the best deals on the products you’re looking for, or become the arbiter of BF alerts and deals? Bing has offered a free BF mapping program, but that’s only scratching the surface.

• Where is the innovative layaway program that was about the only real leverage Sears and Kmart had for years and is still a viable sub-prime customer strategy? (A plan that also allows for a Five Black Friday payoff cycle, leveraging the five Fridays leading up to Christmas day).

• Where is the financing plan that puts a blackout on interest?

• Where are the big online ideas? “Black Page” specials? Countdown clocks to banner and pop up deals? “Private sale” registered sites? Opt-in email alerts? Instead of giving every fan a coupon code, make the influencers meet you half-way and then give them a bigger payoff #tippingpoint.


In this pound-of-flesh retail environment, where retailers thirst for traffic is akin to a Bedouin lost in Sahara, at some point they must understand that when the going gets cluttered, the tough gets creative. They spark people’s imaginations and play to their emotions with more than 101 tactics.

This is your day retailers. Your Superbowl. Your coronation. $5 billion dollars will be spent in 24 hours and while you may be a good operator, that’s not enough, not nearly. And while you’re bound to have a good day, are you really up for telling your stakeholders that “good” is your benchmark?

So, if you survive this year, next year plan early and run to your agency, go to your idea gurus, or look within. But see the light… only bright new ideas will shine through the blackout and while many will stumble, you can drive more green all day long with a big idea.