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Erica Julson: Welcome to The Unconventional RD Podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We'll talk all things online business to help you start, grow, and scale your own digital empire.

Erica Julson: Can you believe we're already more than halfway through October? I don't know where this year is going, but it's happening really fast. And for today's episode, since Black Friday is right around the corner and all those crazy sales that go on the day after Thanksgiving and even through Monday for Cyber Monday. As business owners, we can really capitalize on this as an opportunity to get some extra sales. So I thought I'd talked today about 16 highly effective Black Friday promotions that you can use in your business.

Erica Julson: I've done this, a lot of my peers have done this and have had great success. Actually Black Friday is one of the most fun times of year for me. I actually really enjoy putting some thought and energy into the promotions and affiliate promotions as well that I do around that time period. And before we dive into the tips, fair warning, we just got a puppy last week. So he's still learning the ropes of getting into a schedule and everything.

Erica Julson: So he's supposed to be napping right now, but he saw me close the door and got a little whiny. So if you hear him in the background, that's our little brand new... He's like nine weeks now. Fox Red English lab puppy. We named him Colby-Jack like the cheese because he's like an orangy color. He's super adorable, but super... This is not the right phrase, super a lot of work. He has to get up and go to the bathroom a lot in the night. So I apologize in advance for any brain farts that might happen in this episode as well because I'm running on not enough sleep.

Erica Julson: But anyway, back to the topic at hand. Highly effective Black Friday promotions. And just to caveat here, I know not everyone listening here offers a passive income type of product. Maybe you're doing one-on-one services still. And if that's you, this might not really apply. So I like Black Friday sales and deals and things like that for leveraged income stream. So things where you're not trading your time for money and your profit margins are usually really high, so you have that wiggle room to play around.

Erica Julson: If you are solely trading your time for money, I'm not a huge fan of doing discounts on those types of things. I think your time is valuable. I think it's worth what you're currently charging. And in those cases, discounting can cheap in your services in my eyes or I don't know. I think if you're trading your time, that should be your highest value thing and that is worth a certain amount of money and nothing below that.

Erica Julson: So unless you have a really high profit margin perhaps on your services, I probably wouldn't do a Black Friday promotion for one-on-one type of services or any type of service that involves your direct time. But if you have a product or a digital good, a physical good, a course, a membership site, anything like that, you could totally experiment with doing some Black Friday promotions.

Erica Julson: So we're going to talk today about 16 strategies that you can try to help boost your sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And for those who aren't familiar, if you don't live in the US, or you never really quite looked up what Black Friday means, Black Friday is just the Friday after our Thanksgiving holiday. And Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday and then Black Friday kicks off super early Friday morning, sometimes even like midnight or things are even getting pushed back these days into Thanksgiving, which I am not a fan of.

Erica Julson: But it's a big time for sales in the United States. So it's often when companies go from being in the red each year. So kind of in debt, not profitable to in the black or being profitable for the year. And then in recent years, this new or phenomenon called Cyber Monday has also become a thing. It's like Black Friday, but for online stores. And that is the Monday after Black Friday.

Erica Julson: So now the whole weekend just bleeds together and it becomes four days of crazy sales. So sometimes even from Thanksgiving, all the way through that Cyber Monday, there's lots of great deals to be had. And just some stats from how Black Friday went last year in 2019, I looked it up, 93 million people shopped online during Black Friday last year and $7.4 billion of goods were sold.

Erica Julson: Out of all the demographics of people buying, millennials actually bought the most. So if your target market falls in that millennial range, the 24 to 39 year olds, that's where they're at right now, age wise, then you have a good shot of possibly getting a boost in sales for this Black Friday/Cyber Monday period. Some people think, "Oh, ho-hum. Black Friday. Just another time when things go on sale." And all they really conceptually think about is like, "Oh, what would I do for Black Friday? Like say, oh, 25% off. And that's it?"

Erica Julson: But no, there's actually a lot of really fun marketing experiments that you could try during this four-day window. So I just wanted to share some of my favorites. Obviously, you're not going to be doing all of these. You can listen to this episode and pick out the ones that sound good to you.

Erica Julson: Maybe just one, maybe one or two things, try them out, and let us know how it goes. If you're not already in the unconventional and RD community on Facebook, go to Facebook, search for The Unconventional RD community, request to join. Anyone is welcome, who's interested in online business. But it's mostly dietitians, interns, students, things like that, and some other wellness professionals as well, like therapists, personal trainers, things like that.

Erica Julson: Please join that community. And after you listened to this episode, if you decide to try any of these tactics, let us know how it goes. Start a conversation in The Unconventional RD community on Facebook and share which tactics you tried and how well they went. But let's get into the tactics now. So I'm just going to go through each one, one at a time and let you know what the tactic is and the types of results you might see. And then I'll kind of summarize them again at the end.

Erica Julson: So the first one is the obvious one that everyone thinks of and that's offering some sort of ridiculous or rare discount. So typically, when people think of Black Friday, they think of like, "Oh my gosh, the biggest sales of the year. This is the time that I can get the best deal on something." And it is true that deep discounts are common during this time. So the average discount is something during Black Friday is 37% off, which is pretty high. So that's a lot higher, I would say than the usual sale.

Erica Julson: If you are a business owner and you're thinking of doing some really high discount, or maybe you don't really do a discount often, and this is going to be the rare moment that you do offer a discount, you can decide, "Oh, do you want to discount everything?"

Erica Julson: Or just certain products, either way, it's up to you. So I'll give you some examples. For my Functional Nutrition Library business, which is my membership site, where I published notes on functional nutrition topics a couple of times a month and people subscribe and they can either pay monthly or annually to be members. And again, if you haven't been fully caught up on these episodes, I am shutting down that membership site actually in January of 2021, but I've been running it since 2017 and I've done Black Friday deals, I think every year.

Erica Julson: So what I usually do for Black Friday is offer a discount on the annual membership. So I never do a discount at any other time of the year. There's no discounts available for my product. And it's usually $149 for an annual membership or 14.99 a month to join monthly. But only during Black Friday, so one time a year, I do offer a discounted annual membership. So it goes from 149 to 119. A few people jump on that.

Erica Julson: Last year, I didn't really even promote it. We'll talk about this later. Some other strategies that I did for promoting my deals for Black Friday. But for the Functional Nutrition Library, that hasn't really been my focus over the last year or so. I've really been leaning into The Unconventional RD brand. So all I really did was post about the deal in a blog post that I had done that also contained other deals. We'll talk about that later. But that was the only advertising I did.

Erica Julson: I still sold about a thousand dollars in extra memberships. But every year that I do the Black Friday deal, it kind of compounds on itself. So this was the third year that I had done this type of discount on Black Friday. And I have a really high retention rate for this business. So most of the people who signed up for the Black Friday deals and previous years, they renew their membership also around Black Friday, the next year.

Erica Julson: So then every year, November ends up being a really great month for my business because there's a big surge of annual membership purchases that happen in that month. So that's something to think about as well, especially if you have a recurring payment. If you continually offer good deals like annual deals in November and people do renew, then in November of every year, you can plan on having a great month, which is wonderful right before the holiday season.

Erica Julson: So if you are going to do a discount, typically it is a big discount, I would say over 30% to be attractive, usually. But it's a really effective way to get people who might've been on the fence to join. Another tactic for discounting. This is tactic number two. Instead of just doing the ho-hum X percent off of this product or X percent off of everything, if you want to try to get a little creative, you can do the type of discount where it's like spend X dollars and get X percentage off.

Erica Julson: So for example, spend a hundred dollars, get 15% off. Spend $250, get 25% off. Spend $500, get 35% off. And this is really common. I see this happen a lot with the clothing industry. They do these types of deals often. And the strategy is that people see, "Oh, if I spend more, I get more percentage off. So when am I going to get this deal again? I might as well spend the highest amount to get the highest discount."

Erica Julson: So you can get a larger number of people spending $500 plus on your site or whatever ranges you want to make. So people will spend more to get that discount and then you will have a better month in the end. But obviously, you have to have good profit margins to make that worth it. So obviously, you don't want to be discounting 35% off if you don't have more than a 35% profit margin on those goods.

Erica Julson: But if we're talking about things like digital goods here, our profit margins are extremely high. So you should be good to go if you're doing some sort of discount like this on eBooks or a course, or I don't know, mini trainings, webinars, whatever, something like that, your profit margins should be good to go even if you do, do a really attractive discount.

Erica Julson: Tactic number three is offering some sort of exclusive bonus. So you could create an extra download offer or even an extra physical good that someone gets if they buy during the Black Friday or Cyber Monday period. And this can also be really motivating to push people off the fence if they weren't sure if they wanted to join. So I went through and looked at some of the Black Friday deals that I was scoping out last year, and there were some great examples of this.

Erica Julson: So the online education course platform, Thinkific did something like this. They were giving away microphones and seven months of free access to their online training where they teach you how to be a better course creator for anyone who signed it for an annual plan for Thinkific during Black Friday. And I believe the annual plans were also discounted. So you had to sign up for the annual plan. So they're using that tactic I said earlier, where they're only discounting the annual plan.

Erica Julson: But to help push you to do it, they are like, "Hey, you get a discount and you're getting a microphone." So there's no excuses that you can't do it because you have poor audio quality or whatever. And seven months free training to show you the ropes and help you understand how to develop a successful course. So that's a really motivating example of a bonus. So that's a really attractive bonus for their ideal customer.

Erica Julson: Another example, Vimeo, which is like an online video hosting platform, similar to YouTube, but it's premium, it's paid and you have extra capabilities. You can make videos private so that you can embed them on your website and they're totally private and protected. So you can use them for your courses, things like that. So Vimeo, which I use by the way, it's great, gave away digital cameras if you bought their premium annual plan during Black Friday.

Erica Julson: So yet again, it's another tactic where it's like, "Hey, buy this slightly discounted premium annual plan, which is like one of their pricier plans and you get a free digital camera." So again, since they're a video hosting company, they're like, "Hey, let me take away the excuse of, I don't have a nice camera to do video. Here, sign up for the plan, So you have everything you need to host your videos and we'll give you the digital camera to help you create the content."

Erica Julson: And it doesn't have to be something crazy, fancy like that. Another example, if you follow the Kardashians, Kylie Jenner's makeup company, she has a company called, I think, I want to say it's Kylie Cosmetics or something like that. She gave away Christmas stockings with her branding on it. If you bought a certain amount of her makeup during Black Friday. So it can be extra little things like that, like a sticker or a coffee mug, or if you have a nice following who really is into your brand and they'd want some swag with your brand on it, then that's another fun thing you can throw in to get people excited.

Erica Julson: And if you don't want to do physical goods, you can definitely also give away digital goods. Maybe you have some templates that you've made that you've never sold or featured anywhere or some eBooks or a spreadsheet to go along with your offer or some extra Canva layouts or worksheets or anything really that relates to your offer and adds value, something extra, something bonus something that would help them take action on whatever you're selling. So that's a really fun one, exclusive Black Friday bonuses. You can think about that.

Erica Julson: Then tactic number four is doing a discounted bundle. So again, we've talked about regular discounts. We've talked about spending X amount to get X percent off. We've talked about adding extra bonuses, but you can also offer a bundle. So you can say, if you buy two things, you get one free, that type of thing. Or you can say buy five items, get 20% off where they only get the discount or the extra item when they buy more than one thing.

Erica Julson: So this was the strategy that I took last year, for my unconventional RD business bootcamp courses. I never did discounts. I only ever raised the prices when I re-ran the courses and updated them for the second time. That's what I did throughout all of 2020. But in 2019 I had run each one of my courses once. They were all $390 at that time. And for my Black Friday deal, I was like, "Hey, I'm going to do a bundle where it's buy two courses, get one free." So people were able to get all three of my courses for $780, which is an outrageous steal because now in 2020, each course is $590. So they got three courses for $780.

Erica Julson: I didn't do a huge marketing push. I think I emailed about it a couple of times. And I, again, included that offer in a roundup that I had done of Black Friday deals and I sold 11 spots. So I made $8,580 from my Black Friday deals for my course bundle, which was amazing. It definitely contributed to having a really good November of 2019.

Erica Julson: Then the fifth option that you could do, which is something I also dabbled in, you could do a special payment plan. So let's say you have a high-end course or something like that and maybe it's a thousand dollars. As of right now, your only payment plan is maybe four payments of $250, like four monthly payments. But that's still a little out of reach for some of your audience.

Erica Julson: You could say something like, "Hey, I'm going to do a discount. It's going to be..." I didn't do the math on this, but let's just pretend you're going to say it's going to be a $100 per month for one year. So they're paying $1,200 overall. So they're paying a little bit more to spread out the payments, but it's only $100 per month instead of your normal $250 for four months. So they're paying a little more, but the payments are a little more manageable.

Erica Julson: So that is also really motivating for some people. So you could say, "Hey, for Black Friday, we're doing a special payment plan. We never offer this at any other time. If you're on the fence, if you're on a budget, I'm going to give you one year to pay off the course, for example." And that can be really motivating as well. I did that last year for my bundle offer.

Erica Julson: So remember, I just said, I offered all three of my courses for the price of two, so $780. And I said, "Hey, if you want to extend this into one year payment plan, you can pay $75 a month for one year." So in total they actually were paying $900, so slightly more than the 780, but they were still getting over 20% off than the full price for the courses."

Erica Julson: I ended up selling two of those. So not a lot. It's like almost $2,000 more. So it was enough to push me over the $10,000 mark actually over the $11,000 mark for my Black Friday core sales. But I wouldn't be seeing that money in full until they made all 12 payments. So it was only an extra $150 a month, but that was $150 a month that I could bank on every month for the next year. And that could be a car payment, that could be put towards paying off a credit card, something like that.

Erica Julson: I'm grateful for that. That's wonderful. So it wasn't a huge smashing success to do the drawn-out payment plan, but a couple people took me up on it. And if you know your audience and you think that maybe pricing is something that's a struggle for them, maybe you target beginner dietitians or maybe you target a population that doesn't typically have a lot of extra cash. That could be something that you could dabble in as well.

Erica Julson: All right. So we've done five. We've talked about five things. So I just want to recap really quick. Number one was offering a ridiculous or rare discount. Number two, was spend X to get X percent off. Number three, offer an exclusive bonus. Number four, create a bundle that's discounted. And number five was a special payment plan. Now, we're going to move on to some more fun, exciting kind of tactical stuff. So another thing that you could do, this is tactic number six is add an element of surprise to your offer.

Erica Julson: Personally, this works on me. So whenever I get emails like this, I always have to click it. And basically what you can do is offer a mystery discount. So have you ever seen those emails when they're like, "Oh, you could get anywhere from 10 to 50% off?" What did you get?" Then you have to like click a button and it reveals your discount, or you have to spin a wheel and you land on something.

Erica Julson: You can do that as well. So if you can use a tool called Wheelio to set this up on your website, or if you use the email marketing tool, OptinMonster which is not an email marketing platform, but it's like a fancier tool to help you create cool opt-in forms on your website, they also give you the capability of doing these discount wheels. I've seen this on clothing stores like Forever 21.

Erica Julson: I often get their emails and they're like, "Hey, what deal did you get?" It's really fun and effective. Even if I'm not planning on buying anything, I always click it, just to see what a discount I got, so then I can decide. So that could be a fun way to push people over or pique their interest at least. And it could even go viral if your audience is really excited and they want to win the good discounts.

Erica Julson: Tactic number seven, you could do flash sales. And there's different types of flash sales. So remember Black Friday is going from Thursday all the way, or maybe Friday all the way through Monday. And throughout that time, sure, you could just have one offer and you could send it out and be like, "Hey, this is my Black Friday thing. This is my Cyber Monday thing." But there's so much happening over those four days. People get bombarded with sales emails. So it can help if you can stand out, if you can add some freshness to what you're emailing.

Erica Julson: So one way that people do that is they do flash sales. So some brands do a new offer every couple hours. So they're like, "Okay, on Friday, if you buy between 9:00 AM and noon, you get this extra bonus. If you buy between noon and 3:00 PM, you get this bonus." And they break the day up like that. And they have it all laid out on their website, tons and tons of tons of extra bonuses broken down by our time slots and there's limited numbers available for each of those time slots. So they're like, "Hey, if you want this one, you got to try to buy it now because there's only XYZ available."

Erica Julson: I have a feeling that that's really effective. The brand I'm thinking of that did this was the theme called Divi, which I've used in the past, but I don't really recommend for designing websites in today's day and age, because it's a little bulky and bloated. There's some lighter theme options that I prefer. But they do a Black Friday sale and they use that tactic of offering a new bonus every few hours.

Erica Julson: They're really smart about it because the bonuses that they offer are tangential extra products that go along with their theme that would help the person out. So if you use Divi, you can purchase child themes that other people have designed. So fancier themes that are pre-made that use the Divi framework. So they would be like, "Oh, if you buy during this hour, you get this child theme for free." Or maybe there's extra plugins that people use that are usually paid that offer extra capabilities to go along with your theme. They'll offer those for free that type of stuff.

Erica Julson: So is there something like that, that you could do for your business as well? Maybe there is, and maybe that would be highly motivating and exciting for your people. In the dietary dietitian realm, I have seen Dietitian HQ do this, last year. So Dietitian HQ is run by Heather Neal. She's an awesome dietitian. She's the one who puts on the RD Entrepreneur Symposium every year. And for her Black Friday/Cyber Monday offerings, she did a different deal each day over the weekend.

Erica Julson: I actually made notes. So on Friday, so Black Friday, she was offering $100 off annual membership to her membership site where she coaches people through being an entrepreneur in the dietitian realm. Then on Saturday, she offered free access to a RD business jumpstart program for people who signed up to be an annual member of the society. So Friday you could get a hundred bucks off. Saturday, you don't get any money off, but you get an extra bonus.You get this business jumpstart program.

Erica Julson: Sunday, if you join her society membership program, either monthly or annually, you get access to the older trainings that are archived from before you joined. That was the bonus. And then on Monday, you could purchase the fall RD Entrepreneur Symposium that had already ended that had happened a few months prior. It was no longer available. You could purchase that for $197.

Erica Julson: So you wouldn't be able to go live, but you could watch the recordings in case you missed it for a discount. So those were her deals last year. And that was really cool to watch. I'd love to chat with her and see how that went and whether one of the days was more popular or if she would do that strategy again. I guess we'll find out this year and that can give us an insight. But that is an example of a dietitian doing that on Black Friday for her business.

Erica Julson: Tactic number eight, which I've already mentioned is highlight scarcity. So like I said, with the example for the Divi theme, how they were like, "Oh, you can get this bonus between these hours, but there's only 50 available." And then they would like have a little timer on their website, showing how many were left. That's highly, highly motivating for people. So you can do that or you can use countdown timers to show, "Okay. There was only like two hours left on this deal."

Erica Julson: I do this in my business. I use a tool called Deadline Funnel to set this up. It is a paid tool. It starts at $49 per month, but it allows you to add countdown timers to your landing pages and your website and your emails, and automatically expire deals at a certain time. So if someone clicks the link and the offer is expired, it redirects them to some other page. And that's really nice and convenient and effective. So I pay for that tool.

Erica Julson: But if you don't want to go to that level yet, and maybe you just want to add a countdown timer to an email, let's say, there is a tool called Sendtric, S-E-N-D-T-R-I-C. And that's a free tool that you can use to create a countdown timer just for your emails. That tool that I talked about earlier, OptinMonster, they can create countdown timers to put on your website.

Erica Julson: Case studies have shown that if you use a countdown timer on your sales page or on your website, it can increase sales by two to three times. So it's that effective. So I do think it's a worthy tactic to try out. And then the other one would be offering a limited quantity like, "Oh, this special gift is only for the first 25 people who joined." So for example, if you were giving out a physical good like we talked about how Kylie Jenner gives out stockings or how Thinkific was giving out microphones. Maybe they limit the quantity of how many they're doing and it's only for the fast action takers.

Erica Julson: Or you could say, "Oh, this deal is only good for the first 100 people." So maybe your actual discount is limited and it's only good for a certain number of people. Or, if you're offering physical goods like coffee mugs or t-shirts or something like that, you could also do the tactic of, "Oh, there's only a hundred of these available so they could sell out," and use that type of scarcity as well.

Erica Julson: So how fun is this? I hope you're listening And you're like, "Oh, taking massive notes. Oh, there's so many good ideas." And I wanted to talk about this like in October to give you some headway to take action on this before November. So you can plan ahead, write your emails, design your sales pages, come up with your exciting offer before we get too close to the date.

Erica Julson: All right. So tactic number nine, moving away from just discounts and that type of stuff. You could also do a raffle or a sweepstakes. So again, Divi, that company that I talked about earlier, they also do this. They give away a MacBook Pro every year to one person who bought during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period. So that's highly motivating. I mean, obviously only one person gets it. So your chances are pretty low, but it's a freaking MacBook Pro. So people are like, "Well, if I was going to buy, now is the time to buy. I might as well have a chance at winning it."

Erica Julson: And if you do decide to do some raffle or sweepstakes, you can use tools like Rafflecopter or there's another tool called King Sumo that can set up these raffles or sweepstakes for you on your website, and they let you do things like offer bonus entries, if they share the raffle publicly or if they like your pages on social media or follow you on different social platforms or if they join your email list, they get bonus entries.

Erica Julson: And then if you use those tools, once you have all the entries, you just click generate a winner and it spits out the name and email address of the winner immediately. So it's pretty easy. It's very fair. It's totally random. I've used them before. I think I used KingSumo for the last one that I did, but I've used Rafflecopter too and they both work really well. So that can be a fun way you're trying to focus maybe on growing your email list for Black Friday, you could just do a raffle or a sweepstakes if you don't really have anything that you want to discount during this time period.

Erica Julson: Tactic number 10 is really unique. I haven't seen a lot of people do this, but I think it's an amazing idea. So you can use Black Friday and Cyber Monday to help give back to your community. So you can offer a discount or a special bonus or something like one of the things that we talked about, but the caveat is people can only get that discount or that bonus or whatever you're offering, If they donate food to a food bank or donate clothes to a clothing donation place, or whatever, donate X amount to a charity of your choice.

Erica Julson: So you could say, "Hey, I'm partnering up with XYZ food bank or XYZ, whatever cause and say, "Hey, if you participate, if you send me proof via chat or DM or email that you donated food to the food bank or whatever, send me a picture of yourself, donating food at the food bank and I'll give you the special offer." That could be a really fun way to help give back and also earn money. You'll probably earn less money because you're asking somebody to do something in order to get the sale, but you can feel really good about it and you can be excited that you helped contribute to a good because over the holidays. If you want to combo this with other offers, like maybe you still have a regular discount, but your extra good discount is like, "Oh, if you donate, then you get an extra good one," like that type of thing.

Erica Julson: Tactic 11, if you don't have a product of your own to promote, so maybe you're not there yet. Maybe you have services, but you don't have a course. You don't have a digital good. You don't have anything really that you could leverage for Black Friday to put on sale, don't worry. You're not out of the running. You can do something called a Deal Roundup. So you can create a roundup post, a blog post with links to other company's deals and include your affiliate links in that post where appropriate.

Erica Julson: I've done this for the last two years. And this is for The Unconventional RD space. I do a roundup post every year of my favorite online business tools that are doing Black Friday sales, and I can attribute an extra almost $1,00, $984 and 39 cents from affiliate commissions last Black Friday. So Black Friday, 2019. So if you're counting, you're like, "Oh, wow, okay. She did an extra $1,00 from her functional nutrition membership site."

Erica Julson: She did another 8,000 something from her courses. And she did another thousand from her deal roundup posts. So it adds up. It's like over $10,000 of my own Black Friday deals and promoting other people's stuff. So I love this tactic and it's fun because you're helping other people because you are. I mean, I don't know about you, but whatever niche you're in, you're probably scoping out deals for yourself. You're like excited about it. So you might as well put all the good ones into a post and share it if you have an audience of your peers, and then other people can take advantage of those deals. Maybe they sign up through your affiliate link and you earn a commission.

Erica Julson: Obviously, you have to disclose that you're using affiliate links in the post. It needs to be clear and obvious and clear what that means, that you will earn a commission if someone clicks and makes a purchase. Uh, but it's a really fun way to earn some extra cash and share deals with your peers.

Erica Julson: Similarly, if you don't have an audience of your peers perhaps to promote products that you were going to buy, you can create gift guides for your audience. So things that you think your audience would enjoy buying for themselves. So maybe they're not into the same things that you would be as a nutrition professional, but maybe you know of some products that they would love or love to give to others in your niche.

Erica Julson: So you could create gift guides and create a blog post on your website with pictures that link out to products that you love that maybe are on sale for Black Friday or maybe they're not, but you're just doing a gift guide to prepare for the holidays. If you include your affiliate links in those types of posts, you can also earn really good money. So this was one of the first wins that I had way back in the day like when I first started my food blog.

Erica Julson: I would do a roundup post of my favorite cookbooks of the year. And that was the only time really that I ever earned Amazon affiliate commissions because I didn't understand how to use affiliate links at that time. So I was not using them properly or in a strategic way that would actually get people to click and make a purchase. But these gift guides, they did work better. So I earned, I don't even remember, maybe 20, 30 bucks in affiliate commissions from Amazon after I published those guides, which compared to the normal months where I earned a dollar, that was a really big increase. And my audience was very small at that time. So they can be effective if your audience... If you actually provide things that your audience would want to buy.

Erica Julson: Then tactic number 13, if you don't have a product yet, you can leverage the Black Friday time period to pre-sell a new product. So if you don't have a product yet, but you have an engaged audience, people are primed to buy during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So this is a great opportunity to pre-sell a product idea, to validate interest before you make it. So if you aren't familiar with what pre-selling is, go back a few episodes to episode 38, where I talked about foolproof product creation, how to create something your audience truly wants.

Erica Julson: And there, I talked in depth about ways to validate your idea before you create it. And pre-selling is one of them. So essentially, you put up a landing page and you're like, "Hey, I have this thing to offer. I haven't made it yet, but this is my idea. This is when I hope to kick it off and have it actually start. If you sign up now you get X, Y, Z super amazing discount. And if enough people show interest, we'll get this thing going and start on XYZ date."

Erica Julson: So I've done that. That's what I did for my unconventional RD bootcamp courses. So my three courses, I have a course on SEO, search engine optimization. I have a course on blog monetization. So how to make money through your blog. And then I have a course on email marketing to help automate your income. I pre-sold one year of access to all three courses. This was before I had done any work. This was just an idea. I was like, "Hey, maybe people want to learn from me in a more structured format, maybe they'll buy."

Erica Julson: So I just said, "Hey, I'm thinking about creating courses. I didn't even know the topics yet." I was just like, "Hey, if you sign up, you get one year. We're going to do three trainings a year. If you trust me, basically, and believe that I'd be a good teacher and have something of value to share, you want to learn about online business, sign up."

Erica Julson: It was $320 for one year access to whatever I created that next year. This was a total hail Mary. Maybe this will work. Maybe it won't. I had no idea. But I actually sold 27 memberships at that time And I made $8,640, which was great. And then I officially launched my first course in that coming January. So I pre-sold it for Black Friday. I had, what, like a little under two months to finish putting everything together and I launched it in January.

Erica Julson: So that's a great, great opportunity. If you're on the fence, if you're not sure if your product idea is a good one yet, think about doing a pre-sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday to get interest and have people give you actual money to validate your idea before you create it.

Erica Julson: Then the last couple tips, number 14 is to offer exclusive deals only for people on your email list. And you can tease this out to people, to encourage people, to join your email list before Black Friday to get notified about these exclusive deals. So this is a great way to help grow your list right before the sales season. So you can say, "Hey, FYI. I'm going to be sending out exclusive offers and discounts only for people on my email list. So click here to get on the list." And you send people to an opt-in form or a landing page where they can enter their name and email and get on your email list. And then whenever you send out the special offers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they will get those.

Erica Julson: And a great example of this was RD2RD did this last year in 2019. RD2RD is like a dietitian peer selling portal or platform. So you can upload handouts and presentations and things like that, that you've made and sell them to other dietitians. So RD2RD offered a $5 off coupon if you joined their list. So if you joined your list, you basically get a free $5 to spend on RD2RD. So I bet that was really effective and that's a great idea as well.

Erica Julson: Then tactic number 15 is more like a reminder. You need to promote the heck out of her offers. So it's not enough just to make an offer and put it on your landing page and hope people stumble upon it. Like, "Oh, well I put the offer there. I changed the price. I said it was on sale." No, that's not enough. You need to email. You need to post on social. If you have a podcast or a YouTube channel, talk about it there. Don't just post once, be consistent.

Erica Julson: Even be so obvious as to put a banner at the top of your website. And again, you can use that tool, OptinMonster to do this or consider an exit intent pop-up, which is on your website. If someone is about to leave your page, like the mouse kind of scrolls up to the top right corner to click that X or to the top left corner, whatever browser you're using, your website can detect that motion and they're like, "Oh no. The person is going to leave the page," and then a pop-up appears.

Erica Julson: So this has probably happened to you when you're on other people's websites. They did that intentionally. That's called an exit intent pop-up, and you can, again, set that up with OptinMonster or perhaps your email marketing platform, depending on which one you're using. But if you set that up, you could do an exit intent pop-up that reminds people of the sale. So like, "Hey, are you sure you want to go? Don't forget, we're offering 20% off just for the next two days," that type of thing. Those are really effective as well.

Erica Julson: Then my final tip is to get affiliates to promote your deals for you as well. So this is a great opportunity for you and your affiliates to make money during this time. As I mentioned earlier, I am an affiliate for many many products, and I made that Roundup post, where I talked about my favorite deals and included my affiliate links in there and I made about a thousand dollars during Black Friday from mentioning other deals for other people's companies.

Erica Julson: Well, you can do that for your own business as well. So for my own courses, I run an affiliate program and other people can sign up to be an affiliate and then promote and share their links. And if they make a sale, they get 50% commission from me. So I went and looked back at my numbers. Over the last 12 months, I've paid my affiliates over $12,000 in commissions on my courses, which means they've brought in about $24,000 in sales for my courses that I may not have made on my own.

Erica Julson: My courses over the last 12 months have made over $130,000 at this point. So it's about a little less than 20% of my sales. I think 18% of my sales are coming from affiliate recommendations. So these are mostly former students who loved the course and they spread the word to their peers, their email lists, or like, "Hey, by the way. I took this course. They're having a super amazing offer for Black Friday. I highly recommend you check it out. This is my affiliate link," blah, blah, blah.

Erica Julson: So that's great And I think that's a wonderful opportunity if you are the course creator and you're trying to coordinate this though. You can't just expect your affiliates to know that you're going to do something for Black Friday. You should be proactive and you should email them. Even now wouldn't be too early to email. Give them a heads up of what you're planning on doing for Black Friday so they can start thinking about whether they want to promote with their affiliate link in a more formal way during that time period.

Erica Julson: So give them a heads up. You can even give them promotional materials to use like graphics or emails or social media copy to help make it easy for them and perhaps increase the likelihood that they'll share, and then they'll earn commission and bring you more sales.

Erica Julson: Then my final bonus tip, tip number 17. Don't forget about abandoned cart emails. So after you do all these things, after you make these great deals and you're doing all these fun tactics. Maybe you're even using Black Friday to a sale or you're using it to promote your affiliate links or you're getting other affiliates to promote your stuff. Don't forget to capitalize on reminding people to complete the purchase.

Erica Julson: So abandoned cart emails, basically, depending on what platform you use, you should be able to send automated emails to people who added things to their cart, but didn't buy or who began the checkout process, but didn't complete it. By sending them a reminder email, perhaps with a countdown timer for the sale or an additional bonus incentive. You have a really good chance at recouping a percentage of those sales.

Erica Julson: So it's a little extra work to set up. You have to go in the backend and be like, "Hey, when this happens and this email, but it can bring in a lot of extra revenue that you maybe would have lost otherwise."

Erica Julson: All right. So to recap, our 16 highly effective Black Friday promotions that you can use in your business this year offer a ridiculous or rare discount. That's number one. Number two, spend X amount of dollars to get X percentage off. Number three, offer an exclusive bonus, a download or a physical good that they only get if they purchase during this time period. Number four, create a discounted bundle where if they buy multiple things, they get an extra discount but they don't get that discount if they only purchase one thing.

Erica Julson: Offer number five, do a special payment plan. So an extended payment plan that maybe you don't offer at any other time of year. Number six, add an element of surprise by creating mystery discounts. So use those spin a wheel or scratch off digital things to create a random offer where they're not sure what percentage off they're going to get. Number seven do a flash sale. So every few hours or every few days throughout the time period have a different offer or sale available.

Erica Julson: Number eight, highlight scarcity. Use a countdown timer or offer a limited quantity to boost your sales. Number nine, if you don't have something to sell, you could do a raffle or sweepstakes giveaway to grow your list during this time period. Number 10, team up with the charity of your choice to give back during the holidays. So offer an additional or exclusive bonus only for people who go the extra mile and donate to whatever organization you are teamed up with.

Erica Julson: Number 11, create a deal roundup. So if you don't have a product of your own, create a roundup with your affiliate links and earn money through affiliate commissions. Number 12, create gift guides. Create an article with things your audience will love to get as gifts for themselves or loved ones and include your affiliate links. Number 13, use Black Friday to pre-sell a new product. If you don't have a product yet but you do have an audience this is the ideal time to sell your idea before you create it and validate it with cold hard money in the bank.

Erica Julson: Number 14, offer exclusive deals only for people on your email list and encourage people to join before Black Friday to get notified. It's a really effective way to grow your list. And number 15, promote the heck out of it. So don't just create a deal and never mention it or only mention it once. Make sure you're talking about it many many times over that four day period and also teasing it before Black Friday starts.

Erica Julson: Number 16, get affiliates to promote your Black Friday deal. This is a great chance for you to boost your revenue and for your affiliates to make more money. And then number 17, my bonus tip, use abandoned cart emails. So don't let people fall through the cracks if they've shown interest by adding things to their cart or beginning the checkout process, but not completing it. Just shoot them a quick reminder email like, "Hey, don't forget. You've got something left in your cart. Did you want to buy it? This is your last chance to get XYZ deal. Super, super effective at closing those last few deals.

Erica Julson: So I hope this was a really fun episode for you. It was really fun to put these ideas down on paper and talk about them. I really like doing fun sales tactics and Black Friday is such a unique time when people are looking for these deals. They're basically deal hunting so the more fun and exciting you can make it for people, the better off it's going to go for you, for your affiliates and probably for your audience too.

Erica Julson: So again, if you're not in The Unconventional RD community on Facebook, go find that group and join it. And then let's talk about how our Black Friday promotions went after this time period passes. So the end of November or whenever, I don't know the exact dates of the promotional period this year, but once it's closed out, let's circle back around and let's share what worked, what didn't work and maybe even before Black Friday we can share ideas.

Erica Julson: So usually I'll post a thread in the group where we can all share our own Black Friday deals. So it's another great place to see what other people are doing and share your own deals with a bunch of dietitian peers as well. So thanks and I will see you next week where I have a really exciting interview coming up with a dietitian who created an online course and successfully launched. And this is a nutrition-based online course, and she had a successful 60K course launch.

Erica Julson: Yes, she made $60,000 from her online course in the nutrition field. So this was not a business related course, this was a nutrition focused online course for her audience. So you guys are really going to love that one. So I can't wait to see you next week for that topic of discussion.

Erica Julson: And as always, don't forget go to theunconventionalrd.com/episode041 to get the links to anything I mentioned in this episode. So if you want to check out any of the tools that I talked about, all the links for those tools will be on my website, theunconventionalrd.com. Head to episode 41 and you can find everything right there at the top. So thanks and I'll catch you next week.

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Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.