This Black Friday weekend broke records. Here’s some ways you can set your small business up for success next year.

This Black Friday weekend, sales broke records both in-store and online across the US. Small Business Saturday also saw a massive turnout as consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of shopping locally.

If you’re a small business and you didn’t take advantage of this past holiday weekend, here are a few tips on how you can set yourself up for success when the time rolls around again next year.

Get Started Early

The earlier the better. And this isn’t just for Black Friday weekend. Giving yourself enough time is crucial for any holiday and to compete with the big box stores. According to Metric Digital, an agency that powers marketing for some of the best, most disruptive direct-to-consumer brands, the best time to start preparation is in the late summer.

“The reason to start this early is twofold. First, to give your brand enough runway in case any planning and development of assets, tools, landing pages, videos, etc., are delayed. And secondly, so you can test elements such as ad frequency, copy and creative, so you know what works best when the busy season hits.”

Many brands and small businesses are also starting their sales earlier than the weekend or letting them run beyond the holiday and shoppers are not against it. Many people complain about the insanity of the weekend, so having your promotions run a little earlier or continue after may benefit you and your customers.

“Consider running a mini newsletter only promo the week before Thanksgiving, even a BOGO or gift with purchase can help jump start your holiday, but save the big offer for BF/CM. So much of this comes down to messaging, even teasing what promos you’ll have during BF/CM, or teasing that you’ll have a promo, but not the specific details, can build up interest in your audience that you can cash in on later.”

Stock Your Inventory

If you’ve put all of this effort into getting customers to your store, all of it was for nothing if you don’t have enough inventory. With a holiday like this, consumers are less likely to come back for the item at a later time if it’s no longer in stock. It’s more likely that they’ll go use the same money elsewhere or go to a competitor who may have a deal on a similar item. If you do happen to run out of a hot-selling item, you should always have another key product ready to take the spotlight to save yourself from losing potential sales.

“Holiday performance will vary by business, but for your average e-commerce company you should expect peak revenue of 10x your average October/November daily pace….Being aware of your inventory position, and being prepared to pause or shift advertising dollars at a product level can make a big difference in profitability.”

Figuring out how much inventory to buy is always a tricky thing, especially if you haven’t had a lot of experience with BF/CM weekend. To get a general idea, take a look at the sales from the previous year. If you’re going to use new marketing tactics, plan to have more than usual in case of higher traffic.

Invest in Advertising

Advertising for Black Friday weekend isn’t that different from any other campaign that you’ve run other than the cost. Some small businesses stray away from putting a lot of money into advertising since costs are generally higher. Metric Digital, however, found that this year their clients saw a higher ROI during the holiday, despite the costs being almost 50% higher. The ROAS (Revenue attributable to ads / cost of ads) was also roughly 60 percentage points higher during BF/CM than during October 2018, which is a huge efficiency gain.

“Yes it’s true that competition increases during this time, CPCs will be elevated, but CVR increases even more. Typically the Holidays are a very profitable time to drive orders and because of higher AOV for Fall product it tends to be the best time to acquire New Customers for a shorter LTV payback.”

It’s also important to keep your advertising campaign consistent among your different elements. Use the same color schemes, fonts and messaging to create a campaign that is memorable and will get your potential consumers excited.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all here to stay, so it’s worth putting a plan in action so you get the best results possible. And it’s never too early to get started with more and more brands and potential competitors enter the market. Make sure you’ve got a solid marketing campaign ready for the time leading up to the holiday weekend and afterwards and get your inventory stocked.

Metric Digital is a leading marketing agency that has worked with everyone from startups to Fortune 500 companies. If you’re interested in learning more about them or using their services, check them out here.

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