If you're a small business owner, Black Friday can be a tough time to compete with large retailers and their equally-large marketing budgets. But as a small business owner, whether you're in traditional retail or offer a service-oriented product, you have the advantage of a smaller infrastructure that allows you to quickly react to competitive changes in the marketplace. More importantly, you're able to deliver an infinitely higher level of personalized customer service as well as post-sale follow-up and support.
These advantages allow you to position yourself on equal footing (if not well above) large retailers, enabling you to take full advantage of Black Friday and related post-Thanksgiving sales promotions. Here are a few proven strategies to get you going.

Get Creative with Your Marketing Tactics

Go where the people are. If you offer a product or service that has mass appeal, there's no one stopping you from targeting the herd of people piled up in lines, parking lots and traffic jams on the morning of Black Friday. You literally have a captive audience for your marketing message! And best of all, these shoppers are already in the buying mode, making them even more susceptible to an enticing offer.

Take advantage of the crowds at large retailers like Wal-Mart, Target or your local shopping mall by offering a free promotion (hot coffee is ideal for those standing in long lines) with a brochure or flier detailing your sales promotion. The one thing you need to be careful of here is 'solicitation'. Some malls and retailers have policies against targeting their shoppers but if you negotiate an agreement with one of the larger established retailers, they may even let you set up in their lobby if the product or service you're offering is non-competitive and provides a clear benefit to their customers.

Consider Focusing Your Efforts on the Day After Black Friday

Everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But this year, there's a new day vying for shopping dollars and it's geared solely to you: Small Business Saturday. Originally promoted in New York by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in partnership with American Express, Small Business Saturday is an attempt to redirect consumer attention toward small business offerings during the post-Thanksgiving sales rush.
To generate awareness and create buzz, American Express recently launched a campaign via traditional advertising and social media through Facebook and Twitter. This promotion enables users to offer "shout outs" to their favorite small business. In addition, the first 10,000 small business owners to join the effort will reportedly receive $100 of free Facebook advertising to help promote the event. Plus, owners can create personalized, geo-targeted ads that run on Facebook and download online promotional materials that can be used to promote Small Business Saturday. Already establishing itself as a notable presence among consumers, the Small Business Saturday page has received 850,000 "likes" on Facebook since American Express launched the initiative in early November.

Some Quick Service-Oriented Tips to Set Your Small Business Apart

As small business owners, we often get stuck in the middle of the chaos of Black Friday. But as mentioned above, one of the key strategies to edging out the big-box competition is through the enhanced levels of customer service and support you provide. Do consumers like the door buster deals offered by big retailers? Yes. Do they like sleeping in their car the night before, standing in line at 3 AM, and having to don protective gear more suited to an NFL linebacker just to brave the frenzied crowds? They definitely do not!

So as a small business owner, here are some easy ways to appeal to these shoppers by offering the one thing the big boys can't: a stress-free experience.

Open your shop later

A large percentage of Black Friday shoppers (reportedly 40 percent) actually prefer to avoid the crowds and shop after 10 AM.

Promote gift cards

Recent studies show that over 95 percent of consumers have gift cards on their shopping list this year. Quick and easy to purchase, you may consider setting up a register dedicated solely to the purchase of gift cards.

Get the word out with social media

Use those Facebook and Twitter pages to their full effect, offering special promotions to reward your loyal subscribers (and grab a few new ones).

Provide extended support, guarantees or returns

Many of the large retailers cut off their holiday return period around the third week of January. Even if you just extend an additional two weeks, you'll grab the attention of those who don't want to deal with the hassle of the post-holiday return rush.

Bundle products with services

Combining products at a discounted date (like free batteries for a new flashlight) or free gift wrapping above a certain dollar amount is one easy way to set your small business apart from big retailers who tend to charge for every little add-on.