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Compete With the Big Guys on Black Friday If you're looking to lock horns with Big Box Discounters on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, we have some tips.

By Matthew Ong

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

National chains steal the headlines on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year with door busters, loss leaders, and early store openings the day after Thanksgiving. To contend with the big box discounters on this year's Black Friday, small businesses should learn from best strategies the chains use, leaving the stress, long lines and shoving to the superstores.

1. Leak your Black Friday ad to the media
Black Friday websites, bloggers and the mainstream media publish leaked Black Friday ad scans in November. These leaked ads are popular with consumers, who enjoy perusing the ads early, discussing the deals on forums, and setting their shopping plans for the big day.

While some retailers still threaten legal action against the sites leaking these scans, many of the largest merchants have now come to understand the value of free press. Walmart and Best Buy, two of the most popular Black Friday shopping destinations, both intentionally "leaked" their ads directly on their websites this season.

This year, identify which bloggers or local media sites might help you publicize your sales and send them your ad scan. While you're at it, give them a news hook: ways shoppers can shop at local small businesses on Black Friday.


2. Offer door busters (even if you think you can't afford it)
It's one of the oldest tricks in the book of big retail – offer an extremely limited supply of insanely discounted items on Black Friday to lure customers into the store. While your business might not want to participate in race-to-the-bottom pricing, consider slashing prices considerably on a few popular products. Remember that door busters are about marketing, not sales, so dip into your marketing budget to pay for the decreased profit margins on these items.

3. Open at a sane hour on Black Friday
Black Friday was firmly pushed into Thanksgiving in 2012 and store opening times continue to creep up this year, too. Kmart will open its doors at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Toys R Us opens later that day at 5 p.m. that day, with Walmart and Best Buy opening an hour later.

While these big box retailers have received some backlash from consumers and store employees, their stores will likely be crowded on Thanksgiving day. This is a good thing for small businesses – big box retailers can receive the negative press and foot traffic on Thanksgiving, leaving the actual day of Black Friday wide open. Try and capture an audience of recovering Thanksgiving shoppers (considering offering free coffee in your shop) and locals unimpressed with the big box chains.

Don't forget, too, that the real reason for Black Friday's genesis – the fact that millions of Americans have the day off work the Friday after Thanksgiving and nothing else to do but shop – hasn't changed. Offer noteworthy value and let the Black Friday brand do the marketing for you.

Matthew Ong is a senior retail analyst at NerdWallet.com, a consumer finance website based in San Francisco. Ong is currently working on researching Black Friday deals and reviewing the best and worst of the shopping holiday.

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