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Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday: Tips for Retail’s Biggest Week

So you’re looking for a Black Friday Idea…

People climbing over each other for a juicer, old ladies pushing children to the floor to get at a Swiffer mop, at least one fatality, and at the centre of it, all consumer goods priced low, low, low!  Black Friday is here again folks!

The biggest retail day of the year started as a distinctly US phenomenon but has now spread to the whole English-speaking world. Just like Christmas, it keeps getting earlier each year, with weeks of deals and flash-sales leading up to the big day itself, which has been joined by the eCommerce-centric Cyber Monday and self-explanatory Small Business Saturday.

So how do you come up with a Black Friday Idea that can benefit your retail business, hopefully to the point that people are camping outside your doors at5 am?

Realize That People Kind of Don’t Like Black Friday

Everybody complains about Christmas getting earlier every year… then put their lights on in mid-August anyway. Because of the riots and tramplings, Black Friday has not gotten a great reputation- but those deals though. You can connect with your customers by giving them a little wink via social media or in-store signage that says ‘hey, we know that this is crazy, we get it, but did you see this stand mixer?’ One company even completely boycotted Black Friday but paid their employees all the same.

Send emails and social posts out several weeks before the big day, even if you don’t know exactly what your plans are, then ratchet up from there as your plans become more concrete. You’ll be competing for a lot of attention on Black Friday itself, so make sure that you have a plan to grab as much attention as you can.

Start Early

Send emails and social posts out several weeks before the big day, even if you don’t know exactly what your plans are, then ratchet up from there as your plans become more concrete. You’ll be competing for a lot of attention on Black Friday itself, so make sure that you have a plan to grab as much attention as you can.

Be Funny

Sex is supposed to sell, but more often than not it makes people feel gross. Shock is supposed to wake people from their complacency, but really it makes 90% of people turn off. Sentiment should speak to universal human truths, but mostly it just sounds schmaltzy. That leaves humour: provided that you’re not punching down, being vulgar or just plain weird then humour is the best way to reach audiences on a gut level. Using consumer’s own uneasy relationship with Black Friday, a deep knowledge of your audience and whatever inspiration you can find you can craft something that people are going to remember.

Pay For It

If you’re already making deep cuts into your profit margins by offering staggering deals then paying more for advertising might have your accountant breaking out in a cold sweat, but in today’s competitive attention economy it might be the only way to get in front of enough eyeballs to get that coveted line-out-of-the-door. Facebook advertising allows you to create highly-targeted multimedia ads, and many other platforms offer similar functionality (although Facebook remains the largest.) Don’t discount traditional media either: plenty of people will still respond to a well-made newspaper insert.

How should you set up a great social media campaign for Black Friday? Here’s a sample idea:

  • Post a great video to your company’s Facebook page.
  • Pay to promote that video to your followers (no more than $100 of spend should be necessary here depending on the size of your market.)
  • Build a retargeting ad campaign- a type of Facebook ad campaign that shows ads to people who have already done something on your page or website. Here, you should create a campaign that targets anyone who watched more than half of your video.
  • Go hard and spend big to target those people with ads about your Black Friday deals- they’ve shown that they are engaged.

Tighten Up Your eCommerce

Cyber Monday is a huge day for eCommerce, and it’s not just the big players (or, rather, player- Amazon). Any company that sells online can jump on the bandwagon, but to do so you’ll need a rock-solid eCommerce solution. You may be able to attract more people, but the same rules still apply: make sure that there are no errors, make sure that it’s easy to add items and pay for your order, make sure that the shipping options are transparent- free shipping is a major incentive at any time of year. It’s probably the wrong time to switch from Shopify to Magento or vice-versa, but might be the right time to add some plug-ins that tighten up the checkout process- provided that you’ve got plenty of time to test it and work out any bugs.

Also, because you’ll have an influx of new customers, it’s important to convert them into fans instead of just taking their money once a year and hoping they come back the next. Follow-up emails, incentives to sign up for social media and add-ins for the packages that build goodwill- all of this will convert a few Black Friday bargain-hunters into regular customers.

6) Go Mobile

A large portion of shoppers will be browsing on their mobiles instead of a desktop, which offers a host of opportunities- and problems. Obviously, on a seven-inch screen, you’re not going to be able to show as much or incorporate the same level of text description- a couple of sentences should be sufficient. Mobile also allows you to employ push notifications: it may seem a little intrusive, but eCommerce vendors have found that a pop-up message about an abandoned shopping cart or a notification of a flash sale is a valuable addition to your company’s eCommerce operations.

Stay Small

On Black Friday you’ll be up against big box stores that can afford deep, deep discounts and pyramids of HD TVs; on Cyber Monday you’ll be up against Amazon, who has been taking on the high street and winning for the past twenty years. To level the playing field, consider skipping Black Friday/Cyber Monday altogether and going straight to Small Business Saturday. It might not have the small multi-billion dollar clout as its cousins earlier in the week, but it does allow you to leverage the goodwill people have towards small businesses and their antipathy towards the big retailers.

With a little imagination and the willingness to go the extra mile to provide compelling discounts for your customers, the Black Friday – Cyber Monday shopping period can be the most lucrative shopping period of the entire year. On or offline, you’ll be up against the big boys in retail, from Best Buy to Amazon, so come up with a great Black Friday idea and use what makes you special- you’re small, you’re local and you can build a following by going directly to your customers.


If you’re ever looking for marketing strategy advice, be sure to come by and visit our crew here at Octopus Creative!

Could Your Home Router Really Be A Security Risk?

Earlier today, Wordfence released a blog highlighting a current trend amongst hackers; accessing home internet routers and turning them into weapons to target WordPress sites.

According to Wordfence:

“These IPS switch on, perform a few attacks and then switch off and aren’t heard from again for a month. What we have found is a botnet that is distributed across thousands if IPs. Each IP is only performing a few attacks, those attacks are spread across many websites, and the attacks only last a few minutes or hours.

The attacker controlling this botnet is using several evasive techniques. They are spreading their attacks across a very large number of IP addresses. They are using low-frequency attacks to avoid being blocked. They are also spreading their attacks across a large number of WordPress sites.”

At this moment in time, the hackers in question are targeting countries such as Algeria, India and the Philippines, but you never know where they’ll strike next. If a hacker manages to infiltrate your home router, they can access everything on your home network: your workstation, mobile devices that use WiFi, and other internet controlled devices like climate control systems and home security systems. Once they’re in, anything connected to the compromised router could  That’s not even touching on the damage they can do to the web globally, through your router and IP.

The botnet that Wordfence uncovered was built to take WordPress sites (which make up 25% of the internet) offline by flooding them with traffic from thousands of compromised routers. The routers themselves might slow down for a short time during the attack, but otherwise, their owners will never know that they’ve been compromised. The owner of a targeted WordPress, however, will lose their website, email and any files being kept on the same server for as long as the attack lasts. Unscrupulous companies can take their competitors offline using so-called ‘Testing’ services for as little as $40 per hour.


What can you do?

Wordfence found that the attackers were able to access Algerian routers through a known vulnerability in the router’s firewall software. Your home or business router probably has some security software like a firewall installed so make sure that it’s turned on and do a quick google search to see if there are any known vulnerabilities- there’s a quick guide to setting up your router for maximum security here. Hackers are going to be particularly interested in penetrating the routers that ISPs give away free- they know that millions of people will all be using the same router, so break one and you’ve broken them all. Consider buying a new router– it’ll probably speed up your browsing and extend your wireless range in addition to making you safer.

We always recommend backing up your files and keeping them on an external hard-drive, or you can kick it old school and keep paper copies within a filing system. Google Photos is a handy app that will automatically sync your photos to the app from your mobile device and store them on a private, password-protected site for you to access from anywhere through your Google account. That way, if your mobile device is compromised, you won’t lose all your photos! Make sure that you have Two-step verification enabled on your Google account to make it harder

Here at Octopus Creative, we keep your online brand safe, and security is never an add-on option– we consider it a necessity.


Facebook Plans to Reconnect the Work Environment

The launch of Facebook for everyone over the age of 13 in September of 2006 was a turning point in internet history. Facebook launched as a place for friends and family to connect. Facebook soon evolved into an elaborate business and advertising platform and has since completely reinvented marketing. As of July 2016, there are over 1 billion daily active users on Facebook, with a whopping 38.6% of the online population utilizing the social media platform.

Its popularity is astronomical. Facebook is the top performing social media platform, with over 50 million active small business pages! It seems like nearly everyone uses Facebook, or is at least aware of its existence.

Facebook recently announced that the official launch of Workplace would happen in October, which will reimagine how businesses and their employees communicate. The switch for businesses to utilize Workplace should be fairly straightforward, considering the vast majority of the population is already comfortable with the standard platform. Their campaign boasts that “being a connected workplace, makes us a productive workplace.”

When utilizing Workplace, you’ll be creating a separate work account, which you can then link to your personal account, allowing you to be logged in to both accounts at the same time. Now, this does not mean that the posts from your private account and your work account will overlap – the content will stay entirely separate. With features for video chat and voice chats built directly into the messaging centre, you’ll be able to enable these features quickly, and efficiently, which is touted to make your team stronger and more communicative.

Workplace by Facebook features the familiar News Feed, only here it’s specific to your company, including what’s new and relevant. You’ll be able to maintain private chats with co-workers, group chats, and you will have the capability to invite the entire company to events. The advantage to Workplace will be its ability to filter communications so rather than seeing lots of useless chatter; you will see the most relevant information. It will display content from the colleagues you interact with most, and posts that are endorsed by other teammates will be more widely seen on the company page.

The popularity of Facebook itself could be one of the biggest assets for their newly launched platform. “Facebook at Work’s strength is that we’ve spent ten years and incorporated feedback from 1 billion active users,” says Lars Rasmuseen, the engineering director at Facebook. Great connections are the foundation of great companies. Facebook At Work understands that your job becomes easier when sharing ideas in one place, and you can keep the entire team informed quickly.

Workplace is relatively cost effective, charging $3 per month for the first 1,000 active users, $2 per month for the next 9,000 active users, and $1 per month for each additional active user that surpasses 10,000. Workplace is available for all companies and businesses, no matter the size of the company. Workplace is used by retail, technology, telecommunications, financial services, media, entertainment, food & beverage, transportation, real estate, utilities, shipping and government. To sign up for a free trial, you can apply through their website.

Workplace is competing against many other integrated communication systems used by businesses, including Glip and Slack. Glip offers team collaboration, built around real-time messaging, integrated task management, video conferences and a shared calendar. Glip offers free usage which includes unlimited posts & storage, 500 minutes of video chat, and unlimited people. The Basic account is $5 per user per month and includes unlimited posts & storage, 1000 minutes of video chat per person per month and 24/7 premium support. Upgrading to a Pro account for $10 per user per month gets you everything the basic account includes, with an additional 2000 minutes of video chat, totally 3000 minutes of video chat per person, per month!

Slack allows you to organize your team conversations in open channels. You can make a channel for a product, a topic, a team, or anything else you can think of so that everyone has a complete view of what’s going on. You can also create private channels and invite a few team members so that projects and conversations stay private and only involve those that are required. Slack allows you to drag and drop all files necessary (images, documents, PDF files, etc.) and share with any team member you’d like. Slack also has an option that is free to use and includes 10 apps or service integrations, apps for iOS, Android, Mac & Windows desktop, two-person calls and 5GB total file storage for the team. Their standard account for $6.67 per user per month includes unlimited apps and service integrations, custom retention policies for messages and files, guest access, custom user groups, group calls and 10GB of file storage per team member. For $12.50 per user per month, you receive everything included in the standard account plus compliance exports of all messages, 24/7 support with 4-hour response time, user provisioning and de-provisioning, real-time active directory sync with OneLogin, Okta & Ping as well as 20GB of file storage per team member.

You should navigate through the various options and find the workplace communication that works best for you and your crew.

We have to wonder: Is email the next thing to go the way of the dinosaur?

With so many active users already on Facebook, implementing a structure to utilize the social media platform for companies could open a variety of doors. Employees will be able to communicate with co-workers that they would not typically have a chance to connect with. It will also help build a strong foundation for companies to stand on within the employees. By opening the doors of communication and encouraging interaction, companies will strengthen employee loyalty. Having all information related to each project in one location will be more efficient and time saving than other options.

Consider the following statistics from Vitru:

• 20% of work time is spent looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues for help

• Average time spent in the office trying to contact customers or colleagues is 74 minutes

• Poorly managed work groups are on average 50% less productive and 44% less profitable than well-managed groups

• 96% of executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communications for workplace failures.

Communication is key to maintaining a creative, productive, and thriving business and the possibility that implementing Workplace by Facebook could throw all the above statistics overboard, is nothing short of inspiring.

If you’re interested more in what social media can do for your business, contact Octopus Creative today!