Whether you love it or hate it, there’s a lot to be learned from the American shopping phenomenon known as Black Friday (aptly named to describe the point when a company’s finances transition from red to black). With the introduction of Cyber Monday, Black Friday has now morphed into a four day weekend of shopping hysteria. Retailers whip ordinary, seemingly sane people into a froth of consumption insanity. Adults often behave so irrationally that Black Friday has become TV fodder for the rest of the world (which news outlets love to capture… it’s Reality TV gold).
So what’s the secret? How do retailers get customers to queue up at their stores at 4:00am? The answer is simple: urgency. The key to Black Friday sales lies in a retailer’s ability to manipulate consumers’ emotions through a sense of urgency. Offer a great deal with a limited quantity during a defined time period and BOOM! To the victor goes the spoils! It’s a play on psychology that is less about the actual sale, and more about the bragging rights associated with scoring an incredible deal and outmaneuvering other shoppers.
So how do you leverage Black Friday to sell a high volume of gift certificates at your DZ? The key lies in Positioning and Urgency.
To best position yourself, you need to be where your customers are. In today’s world that means developing a strong social media presence (Facebook, for the majority of DZs) and utilizing a drip marketing campaign (your newsletter). Every person that walks onto your DZ is either a future customer (spectators) or a repeat customer. Do not let anyone leave without having them “like” your DZ’s Facebook page or giving you their e-mail address (contact me if you’d like to know how to do this). Expanding your reach throughout the year is essentially a setup for an end of year promotion. Think of your social media platforms and newsletters as an opportunity to build trust and engage with your followers as opposed to an opportunity to bombard them with a neverending sales pitch. If you do the latter, your followers will start to tune you out. Gary Vaynerchuk highlights this in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook and speaks to the importance of publishing great content throughout the year until you’re ready to hit (with a right hook) your customers with a killer deal. The same holds true for your drip marketing campaign. Offer interesting, engaging content without a sales voice. Build trust. Then, offer a great deal. Essentially, we’re employing the daily deal model ourselves by expanding our database to reach as many people as possible. If your loyalists trust you as a company, then they’ll buy from you.
Creating urgency has to begin weeks before the sale date. With your newsletter, advertise exclusivity by offering your subscribers ‘first dibs’ and “pre-sale” notification before the deal goes live. Highlight the sale date. Prep your followers to expect something big down the line and make them feel special by sharing inside information with them in return for their loyalty to your business.
CASE STUDY: REI Let’s take a look at how REI employs this strategy. REI offers exclusive specials to their members and allows them to view sales before they’re offered to the general public. As a result, REI loyalists feel like VIPs and REI gets to clean out unwanted inventory by creating a special event. It’s the ultimate win-win. In the example below, REI is already prepping their membership for an event two months down the road with a Garage Sale (this will probably consist of the many returns brought in from Black Friday and last minute Christmas sales). Notice the details in the ad: “REI MEMBERS ONLY EVENT” and also the term ‘Quantities limited’ in small print.
Here’s the MOST IMPORTANT DETAIL: Do not offer an unlimited quantity of gift certificates for sale… advertise that you have a finite quantity that will only be available for a limited time period. Once the quantity is sold out… the deal is over (potentially before Cyber Monday). Of course, you probably have every intention of selling much more than the limited quantity you’re advertising, but creating this urgency motivates people to spend instead of procrastinate. Most consumers like to wait as long as possible to part with their money, so give them a good reason to part with it by ramping up the sense of urgency. This isn’t an altruistic practice, but it’s a marketing technique leveraged by nearly every company looking to drive a special promotion.
HOW TO ROLL OUT YOUR PROMOTION
FIRST MENTION – At the beginning of November, inform your followers with your newsletter that they can expect a great sale (don’t reveal the deal just yet… keep anticipation high, by offering ‘THE BEST SALE OF THE YEAR). (Newsletter Only)
WEEK PRIOR – Remind everyone that in one week, the SALE of the YEAR is on it’s way. This is where you start to build interest. Reveal your great deal! (Newsletter & Social Media)
COUNTDOWN TO THE SALE – Build anticipation each day with a countdown towards this epic deal! This keeps you front and center and builds anticipation. Use social media exclusively for this. Newsletters will start feeling spammy and many of your users will unsubscribe if it clogs their inbox. (Social Media Only)
GO LIVE – Announce when the deal has dropped. (Social Media and Newletter)
COUNTDOWN TO END OF SALE – No one wants to miss out… begin the stopwatch reminding people of the little time left to capitalize. (Social Media)
*NOTE: For social media, be sure to have a generous budget for maximum exposure.