Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, on the fourth Thursday of November. Since 1952, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S. and many of the U.S.’s major stores open very early and some even stay open overnight in order to supply customers with the demand for their promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday in the U.S., let alone here in South Africa. In fact, South African retailers have only recently started participating in the now international Black Friday craze. Most of them have benefited from hopping on this bandwagon – with pictures of stores filled with products on special and the customers demanding them going viral all over South Africa.
It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. since 2005. Stories resurface year upon year at this time, portraying hysteria and shortage of stock, creating a state of frenzy for both consumers and businesses. The same trend, at a less frantic level, is now being seen throughout South Africa every year.
It seems that 2017 will be no different with regards to the success of the sales and promotions in getting impressive numbers through store doors, with more and more stores already advertising their Black Friday promotions in anticipation of the grand sales day. That’s all good and well for these large retailers, as they often have specials throughout the year anyway, but what does the newly-found popularity of the Black Friday in South Africa mean for you and your not-so-big business?
No matter what kind of business you are running – no matter the industry, size or marketing strategy – Black Friday is simply an opportunity for your business! It’s a yearly event, almost guaranteed to have a viral effect on consumers, on and offline. The event is regularly covered on television, radio, news outlets and social media every year.
This is free exposure any business could benefit from if they sincerely take the time to consider the possibilities for optimising the promotional opportunity the Black Friday hype offers them. The question isn’t ‘is black Friday relevant to my business?’ but rather ‘how can I make Black Friday produce the greatest possible advantage for my business?’ This is not because your business needs to jump on every trend and every bandwagon but because Black Friday happens to be one of the very few trends which truly can be relevant to every single business!
Of course, we couldn’t provide a single marketing strategy every and any business can make use of for Black Friday, not just because we usually charge for that but also because such a marketing strategy simply does not exist. If it does, it’s probably a very bad strategy. Instead, here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you are going to be the smart business owner who takes advantage of Black Friday.
What Black Friday does is that it gives you the opportunity to have extraordinary numbers flocking into your business, your job once they arrive is to encourage them to make their purchase on the very day – that’s how long the specials are available and therefore that’s how long their interest is going to last! Don’t make life harder for your customers. Have the items that are on special out in the open where everyone will see them, make your special offers clear from the start – do not try to catch your customers out on technical issues or small print, and give them incentives. If your business has an online store you are in the ideal position as yours is the easiest way for customers to make purchases. But you can make it even easier – offer free shipping, offer special offer codes for your most loyal customers or even limited customised products.
Remember what we said about images from the last Black Friday going viral? Well, the best place to be to take part in all this action is on social media. Afterall, social media was one of the factors that contributed to Black Friday going from an American tradition to an international craze. If you have a Black Friday special running, social media is the quickest and easiest way to let the right audience – your customers and potential customers, also known as your followers – know. We recommend promoting your specials beforehand as well as on Black Friday itself (November 24th) to give yourself time to reach as many users as possible and nurture their interest.
The hype you see big brands getting around Black Friday isn’t just because consumers love trends. They do, but it is also because consumers love a good special. 5% off your oldest stock that has failed to sell for years will not do here. If you want to gain anything from your promotion, you will have to make it worthwhile for your potential customer to decide to make the purchase, especially on a day when every other business, especially big retailers, also have a special or some kind of promotion happening. Give your potential customer a reason to use your product or service over theirs, even more so than usual. This means you may have to make some sacrifices in terms of your profits for the day. It’s up to you to weigh up the potential gains you stand to make against the loss you might have to make on this day. Remember that the extent to which you are willing to lose in this regard is completely up to you – don’t run your business into the ground!
If this seems like a lot to consider, get your marketing agency on it!