What Black Friday taught me about being a manager

22 November 2018 -

Black FridayThe head of marketing at Biscuiteers shares her experience of Black Friday trading

Guest blogger, Nicola Downes

Biscuiteers is a luxury gifting company, specialising in hand-iced gifts for all different occasions. The business launched in 2007 as an alternative to sending flowers to friends and acquaintances.

My role is to manage the marketing function and e-commerce trading by creating annual and three-year promotional strategies and overseeing their implementation.

This will be my fourth Christmas at the company. About 30% of annual sales are made through our website between November and December each year. We try to avoid blanket online discount promotions, but Black Friday (November 23rd 2018) is the one time of year we get involved. The discount sale day marks the start of the festive shopping season.


As a head of marketing I think the main challenge of Black Friday trading is cutting through the noise. My efforts tend to go into owned our social media and web channels and publicity.

Essential tasks for managers who are overseeing Black Friday include:

  • Increasing server capacity to ensure a website is running at full speed for online purchases
  • Deciding what promotions to run
  • Communicating those promotions internally and externally. To operate efficiently during a busy period, all communication and production teams must be fully briefed


Start early – and reflect on previous successes

I’ve learned to start Christmas planning early. Usually we begin preparing for Black Friday around July, by reflecting on the previous year’s performances, challenges and successes. We all take the time to sit down and go through our ‘do’s’, ‘don’ts’ and ideas. Finalising Christmas plans the end of August, we begin selling Christmas product from the day it goes online (1st September).

Think ahead

I share the anticipated sales patterns for Black Friday with the full team, so everyone fully understands the sales curve and increase in demand, and is fully aware of the expectations from the onset.

Be agile

Last minute changes or ideas can be challenging, but I think it’s well understood that Black Friday is a huge sales weekend for us and we must have a level of flexibility in anticipation for that. It’s as important as ever that everyone puts the customer first, if that means supporting customer services or packing up biscuits to ensure we get them out the door then we will!

Be positive about team successes

Black Friday is a very exciting time of year for the whole business and I encourage the team to see it as a moment to celebrate.

Therefore, my final tip for managers is to enjoy the season! As marketers in retail, we’ve worked all year to acquire and retain customers and equip our websites with the capability to drive Christmas sales – the peaks are really a reflection on business and team success.

The CMI provides training and leadership qualifications to help managers lead during their own busy periods.

Image: Shutterstock

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