Let’s Talk About Black Friday (Before It’s Too Late)

Before you fire off that discount email… Let’s talk about Black Friday. Before it’s too late.

I might be in the minority here, but I will often sway a business away from participating. Don’t read this as pessimism. On the contrary, I believe you’ll benefit from sitting this one out.

In this very concise article I’ll tell you why.

lets talk black friday

“Sit this one out champ, this ain’t your fight”

When is Black Friday 2020?

when is black friday 2020

Why is Black Friday such a problem?

Because the numbers rarely stack up.

If you’re a box shifter competing with the likes of Amazon and you have no USP – then sadly – you might have no choice.

Also, if you’re running a subscription based service, then I can see the benefits of running a promotion. That is, if your retention rate is strong and can take the strain of the discounts.

As for everyone else?

Ask yourself: will I get more customers for longer by running a deal?

Example of why it [often] doesn’t work

Let’s say your average order (AOV) is £/$50. You might make £/$15 on that order.

If you offer a ‘black Friday worthy’ discount of say 30-50%, then in many cases you’d need to double your AOV just to compete with existing sales.

Or, worse – you’d actually lose money.

But doubling AOV is really hard (understatement) and bargain hunters are not in the mood for spending more money.

Turn up the VOLUME!

But think of the volume – more orders! More revenue!

I’m running a business Ed, I can’t be choosy – what’s not to like?

I hear you. But you’re not Vidal Sassoon.

Obscure, mid-90’s hair pun’s aside, let’s look at the reality of ‘more’.

With volume comes risk

Start with the obvious. It’s more work for you and your team to fulfil.

It increases the potential for mistakes, stock issues and customer service requests.

Aka. creating a bad experience for everyone.

What’s worse, a flood of negative reviews and issues? Or missing out on some low profit revenue that as I say, might not even make profit. Especially when you factor in additional overhead and higher return rates.

Up to 30% Return Rates

A study from KPMG revealed 31.4% of consumers who had bought fashion apparel on 2017’s Black Friday, expected to return one or more items. Okay this is fashion apparel which does have a higher than typical return rate, but the inflated figure still stands – and a third of items come back.

Who pays for that? You do.

Worse still, the study found only 48% of returned items could not be resold at full price.


Instead of volume, there’s an important metric that we often neglect.

New vs Existing customers

If you’re not convinced, ask yourself by running a big deal on Black Friday, can we:

  • increase new customer volume?
  • do so without upsetting existing customers?
  • actually make money here, and if not…
  • does AOV make sense over the coming quarter and/or year?

I think these points are often missed in the melee, with the panic and rush to create the biggest and brightest offer.

Only for the dust to settle and the regrets to surface.

Don’t have any regrets. This might be a fight worth sitting out. ?

By Ed Leake

Ed Leake is a seasoned professional with decades of experience in the world of internet and advertising. He was one of the earliest adopters of domain ownership and website monetization. Ed built his first website in 1996 and has since managed over $250 million in ad spend. He is an agency owner, SaaS product owner, Ad Tech builder, PPC specialist, investor, and mentor. He has been running his agency, Midas Media, for over 13 years and acquired Adboozter in 2018. Ed also built AdEvolver, a tool to automate Google Ads accounts at scale. He uses his expertise to help businesses grow from small to large, leveraging Google Ads and Analytics, along with a significant focus on conversion optimization.