BFCM Mistakes to Avoid: Lessons Learned from an eCommerce CEO

Chris dishes his top tips on common mistakes DTC brands make during Black Friday Cyber Monday—based on personal experiences and learnings from ecommerce events with other founders.

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My favorite learnings from Commerce Roundtable

A few weeks ago, I shared a room with over 300 other entrepreneurs for 48 hours in San Diego at Commerce Roundtable. This event is known for connecting established brands and rising stars in the DTC space.My biggest takeaway wasn’t conversion rate optimization or ways to boost your AOV, but a simple one… start being happy with what you have. The sooner you’re content with what you have, the sooner you will feel personal happiness.

Here Chris is on a panel discussing how to trim the excess and maximize profit with JJ Workman of Tapcart, Ben Emmrich of Tusk Logistics, Geoffrey Prince of Digit.

There’s always going to be a bigger dog. Somebody who has more money. A larger business. More employees. Being able to be happy for them but also happy with where you’re at is vital to a life worth living. 

Without this perspective, you may fall into the trap of buying that big house you can’t afford, watches to impress people who don’t care about you, or cars to impress girls who still think you’re ugly. 

Less is more. 

Unless it’s with Chic-Fil-A, I’ll always take more. 

So, what did I learn flying out to San Diego? Let’s get straight into it:

1. The best brands have operators that are 100% focused on their mission.

They cut out all the shiny objects and only focus on one thing daily. This reminder hit home because I’ve been flying so much that I feel like an American Airlines employee. After the next few weeks of travel, I need to stay put, focus on the business, lock in, and prepare to end the year as profitable and in the best position possible. 

2. If you’re a marketer, mastering creative content should be your top priority. 

Nearly 100% of the people I spoke with said that if they were starting a brand today, the #1 skillset they’d lean into is getting good at making creative content: the TikTok, the selfies, the founder videos. Your #1 job as a marketer is to create views and leave a lasting image about a product or brand to your consumers. It may be cringy or uncomfortable initially, but you must do it. I’m so good at writing but so bad at video and making speeches. That ends today.

3. Reallocate marketing dollars toward content marketing.

We spend tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads but are unwilling to invest money into the content behind the ads. I thought more about this because it’s easy to justify spending money on FB. After all, you’re seeing money back (hopefully at least at break-even) the same day. Creating content is a 100% gamble on yourself, and there’s no cash back until you start running the ads. From there, you have to see an increased ROAS on that ad compared to what you were running before, and then you can map out how long it takes for that new content to pay for itself. 

4. Plan ahead when it comes to BFCM shipping logistics 

Holiday shipping charges start in October. If you ship with FedEx, they will tack on a $7 surcharge. Adding a $7 fee to our current unit economics with our ROAS would break out contribution margin goals. We are seeking a new carrier immediately to get us through the logistics challenges of BFCM.

BFCM prep tips from 17 founders you’ll want to know ✏️

If you’re still preparing for Black Friday or haven’t even started yet, don’t worry; you’re not alone. On Friday, we had one of our weekly Founders Club meetings where 17 people shared their strategies, last year’s mistakes, and strategies they are considering this year. 

Founders Club Meetup in San Diego

Here are my favorite ideas:

1. Set a company-wide goal

Units sold, top-line revenue, and contribution margin were the top three discussed. Last year, we didn’t have any of this. It was, “oh, I hope we do better than last year”.

2. Make sure your email flows are on point

We just officially moved over to Sendlane four weeks ago, so making sure that every flow has been copied over the Klaviyo and has the most up-to-date product upsells, imagery, and talking points. Create a holiday email flow if your prices are going to be marked down or you have a special offer. Make sure it's as up-to-date as possible.

3. Do whatever you can to not give away margin

Can you bundle in a product for free instead to preserve some margin? Offer some type of compelling offer such as a gift card for $50 worth of value for $15, knowing that AOV on your site is $100+

My friend, Aaron from Hush, went on a rant about how his VP of Marketing forced them to change their strategy last year, and instead, they gave away their best-selling item for free when they bought enough of the Tier 2 SKUS. Most of us as operators want to give away the shitty SKUs, but consumers want to do anything to get an excellent product.

4. Analyze your updated margins

Don’t assume you can run a 10% or 20% off sale because you did so last year. Freight has changed. Manufacturing costs have gone up. Pick & pack + holiday surcharges. Run every number and dial into a contribution margin you’re actually happy with. 

5. Do as much as possible leading up the BFCM to get new potential customers in the pipeline

Can you do a social giveaway? Partner with a brand? Run a competition. These new top-of-funnel leads will be the hungriest to spend money with your brand.

And that's all for now, folks.

I’d love to hear back on what’s stressing you out as we head into the craziest time of the year.

Shoot me a message at or DM me on Instagram.

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