Fall is in the air, and along with pumpkin spice lattes and controversy over the color of coffee cups, nothing says fall quite like Black Friday — in keeping with the season, I’ve come up with a list of Black Friday tips to help you stay ahead of the competition.
And staying ahead is exactly what you need to do. In the U.S. anyway, Black Friday is the beginning of the make-or-break, get-rich-or-die-tryin’ time of year.
It’s not just Big Box retailers that make the majority of their yearly income in the weeks following Thanksgiving in the U.S. — all the little guys out there tryin’ to survive in the harsh seas of modern corporate America are going toe-to-toe with Amazon, Ebay, and their tiny brethren to grab a chunk of some very attractive change.
What does this mean for marketers? It means you really need to be on top of your game.
So let’s dive in — here are my 5 top Black Friday tips for marketers in 2017.
#1 Don’t Be Afraid to Spend, Spend, Spend
If ever there was a time to spend money on marketing and advertising, the weeks and months leading into the holiday season are it.
I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to run across clients who are unwilling to sink money into their marketing and advertising.
These are the same people who are upset that the measly five bucks a day they’re willing to spend on Facebook ads doesn’t give them a return. Well no joke, Joe Smoke — you gotta spend money to make money!
Black Friday (and the weeks following it) are going to see major upticks in the price of online advertising, both for social ads, PPC ads, and retargeting/programmatic marketing, and such is the nature of the market, but the clever marketer is going to understand that this is simply the price of winning — if you have the product/service capacity to back it up, the money you spend on these ads can drive a serious amount of sales, both online and offline.
This doesn’t just apply to digital ads. Depending on your industry, your target markets, and what you sell, it may be very wise indeed to drop some cash on TV/radio ads, outdoor advertising, and the like. If you do nothing else, increase the budget on the marketing/advertising methods that have always worked best for you in the past.
The simple truth is that, for most businesses, you’re going to get a better return for your advertising/marketing dollar during the holiday season than during any other time of the year.
So spend the money that you need to spend to make an impact — your competition isn’t going to be hesitating, I promise you that.
#2 The Niche Is Your Friend
Because of the saturated nature of the marketing and advertising landscape during the holiday season, because your potential-and-current customers are being inundated with advertising at a level not equalled throughout the entire year, you’re fighting a bit of an uphill battle…
But if you sit down, look at what you sell, look at who your ideal customers are, and really narrow down a few niche audiences, you can increase the effectiveness of your marketing/advertising by going after a smaller audience with a message closely tailored to their needs.
This has a variety of tasty advantages to the marketer who hates wasting money on low-return campaigns:
- Though you reach fewer people, those people are more likely to listen, to talk to you, and to buy
- Because you’re targeting a smaller audience with a solution that’s more personalized to their needs, you’re setting up a better relationship in the future
- You might actually be able to save some money on your marketing/advertising because you’re only targeting such a small group (or number of groups)
- In all the advertising noise, your unique deals are going to stand out to those customers
In theory, this is what we should all be doing all the time — in practice, marketing and advertising is messy, and putting together specialized deals for niche audiences is sometimes too time consuming for your team to make happen in a reasonable amount of time.
But this is the time of the year to make it happen — plus, an audience who is courted intelligently, who appreciates that you’ve taken the time to get to know them and understand their needs, that audience is going to be more likely to become a long-term customer.
Shotgun-blast marketing/advertising might just draw in deal-seekers. Those people have about as much loyalty as a cat with full access to your refrigerator.
#3 The Time to Take Risks Is Now
If you’ve been playing it safe all year, if you’ve been sticking to tried-and-true methods, there may be no better time to try that crazy marketing/advertising idea you’ve been wondering about than the holiday season.
Now I’m not knocking tried and true, but if something has the potential to pay off big, it’s better to try it at a time when the chance for a big payoff is high.
I’m assuming, of course, that you’ve thought your crazy plan through a bit and have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to work — don’t go rogue on me and try to implement some nutty advertising scheme that’s got a snowball’s chance in heck of paying off.
What I’m talking about here is what I often see in the average small-to-medium-sized business — a distinct fear of doing anything with their advertising or marketing that’s unique, anything even slightly edgy (and this generally includes doing anything humorous or fun, let alone controversial).
Throw that thinking out the window this year. Do the things you’ve always thought would be great, the things that you’ve just been a little too conservative to try.
Just don’t be like these guys.
#4 Always Be Checking Your Data
If you’ve convinced your customers to share their data, then you’d better make darn sure you’re making use of that data throughout the season.
But what usually happens? Businesses of all shapes and sizes get so busy during the days and weeks leading up to Black Friday (and the even busier days that follow) that they basically stop following the data, stop optimizing, and fall into a holding pattern.
Planes weren’t meant to go in circles folks — they were meant to soar.
If you’re going through all this trouble to get data, to sift through it, don’t let the nuttiness of the season drive you to squander that data, to let it waste away in a dashboard you never check.
Let it work for you. Let it fly.
Do whatever you have to do to force yourself to look over the data at hand. Look it over daily if you can, especially if you’re pumping extra cash into your marketing/advertising as I suggested above (or giving a few risky campaigns a shot). Do some A/B testing, try out different things, see if you can learn what’s working, what’s not, and how you can tweak it to get the most out of your marketing dollars.
And don’t forget to check the data on your products/services! ‘Tis the season for price optimization. Feel free to raise/lower prices, mix-and-match products/services into different bundles, and then track how customers respond.
Some of the most successful online retailers out there are making waves and attracting customers during Black Friday because they’ve stretch the elasticity right out of their pricing and figured out the sweet spot for every item they sell.
Again: Don’t be afraid to experiment!
If you haven’t gotten on board with the whole automation thing, there’s no time like the present.
Automation tools exist for budgets and businesses of all shapes and sizes, but when you’re deep in the holiday season, the last thing you want to have to deal with is setting up a new automation tool.
If you set up marketing automation now, before you get busy with day-to-day operations, your future self with thank you for the reduction of work and stress, not to mention the bonus your business is going to feel when it no longer has to worry about marketing or advertising falling to the wayside.
Now not everything can be automated, and there still needs to be someone steering the ship, but there is a lot that can be, and it’s worth it to put in the time necessary now to learn it all and put the systems in place that will support you through the madness that is Black Friday.
Once They’re in the Door, Focus on Retention
Black Friday is all about getting eyes on the website and feet in the door so that product bursts off the shelves and revenue climbs out of the yearly pit.
But it’s also an excellent time to reach customers you might not see again for another year, if at all.
Make the most of that opportunity to introduce your business to new customers, to show them that you’re a brand worth following year round.
Focus on retention from the very beginning, on building that relationship over a Black Friday deal, and if you’re not sure where to begin, check out the phenomenal Sam Hurley’s article — 5 Magnetic Retention Concepts + 15 Tools You Can Use Today.
And good luck out there, marketer.