You know good marketing when you feel it — and that’s usually when it’s less like marketing and more like a conversation. Nobody likes to be marketed to, but we’re happy to sit down and have a conversation if you invite us to the table. Few other days in the U.S. feel less oversaturated by marketing efforts than Black Friday. E-Commerce giants, Amazon, Walmart, and Target claim the top spots in Google, followed by Best Buy and Black Friday deal sites.

And it makes sense, right? There are a lot of visits to be had by the giants during Black Friday.

Keywords Average Monthly Search Volume (AMSV) 
black friday 368,000
black friday deals 246,000
black friday 2016 135,000
best black friday deals 60,500

But what kind of organic traffic does that leave for everyone else? Not much. So what’s your option if you want to make an impact for Black Friday? #OptOutside, in other words, try something new. In 2015, REI launched their #OptOutside campaign living up to their mission of inspiring, educating, and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. With 83 linking root domains and 149 links total to their Black Friday page, REI gave a boost to their SEO with their Black Friday campaign, not to mention their insane number of social brand mentions. You might be wondering, how else did this impact their SEO?

Improve rankings for non-branded queries. There was a post on Moz about a year ago after Google filed a few patents about the relationship between branded and non-branded phrases. The hypothesis stands: searches for branded terms impacts non-branded queries. If you look at Google Trends from 2015 for the keyword phrase ‘REI opt outside’ you see a significant spike in searches:


REI was able to create search queries with a keyword that’s relevant to their niche: outside. Not to mention, the search volume for REI opt outside is now over 1,500 searches a year. They’ve stimulated a whole new set of keywords that they’re able to rank for and that brings people into their brand.

Acquire backlinks from new linking domains. Since bidding on paid advertising and battling over media placements is an uphill battle, REI’s strategy of opting out of the whole thing makes it much easier for them to get links from sites covering Black Friday. You don’t have to look far into REI’s backlink profile to find links from new linking domains that are commending their business on their choice to avoid thinning margins and do something that matters for their co-op members.

Stake their claim in mission-driven profits. REI co-op members aren’t the exception. There has been an overwhelming shift in marketing, especially businesses focused on reaching a millennial audience, in trying mission-driven messaging. Since REI customers value experiences outdoors over congested Black Friday consumerism, this seems like a great way to start a conversation. Their meeting their customers where they’re at by saying: hey go outside, we’ll be there too. And to top it all off, this year REI is offering a winter sale through the 21st, just in time to gear everyone up for their time outdoors on #OptOutside Black Friday.

How can you put something like this together for your business? Start with what your customers care about and how that relates to your product. Get your team in a room and brainstorm your customer’s values. What do they care about outside of your product? What are the larger social issues that matter to them? If you’re a fitness brand, how can you get people to workout on Black Friday instead of shop or if you sell skateboards, how can you celebrate the fun of hanging out at the skate park next Friday? Below, I’ve listed some strategies to get you started on developing your alternative Black Friday campaign for your small business, one that matters and where you won’t be competing in an already oversaturated landscape.

Brainstorm for Alternative Black Friday Campaigns 

  1. Create a list of 5 shared customer values.
  2. Using one of these values, write out 10 digital campaign ideas that you can promote on social media.
  3. Select a #hashtag.
  4. Create a landing page for the campaign that explains the mission.
  5. Share with your audience & promote on social media

Start developing a Black Friday campaign from that place and your likely to find something that will resonate with your audience. And if you need inspiration, just watch this on loop: