We’ve all seen it. Images of lines wrapped around buildings consisting of people bundled in their winter coats and videos of similar crowds bursting through department store doors, often trampling each other for subpar deals. While this has become generally accepted, and one could even argue, engrained as a part of our holiday culture, we have to ask why? Why do we suffer through lines full of people we have no connection with, why do we plod through stores overly-saturated with crowds competing for today’s best deal? Even for those of us who do not actually participate, why do watch the news every Black Friday and Saturday, taking in the images and footage with a mix of comedic horror? The answer, albeit an easy one, is often overlooked and under discussed. We have been subjected to one of, if not THE greatest marketing and branding project of our generation.
When you break it down, people rarely leave Black Friday having saved an exorbitant amount of money. The deals are not too much better than the other days of the year, barring a few “doorbusters” and raffled off giveaways. So how do they do it? Year after year, millions flock to the stores and spend money that they would normally save, all in some misguided effort to take advantage of Black Friday. There are primarily three ways that you can apply this Black Friday model to your own business, regardless of your product or brand.
Market An Event, Not Your Product
Every marketing campaign does not have to be firmly rooted in your product. Event marketing is easy, eye-catching, and starts conversations in an organic manner. Instead of marketing your product, host a couple of events a year whose sole purpose is to generate conversation and build relationships within your network. An open house, a client appreciation party, your options are only limited by your creativity. By marketing an event, you are bringing the consumer to you and allowing your passion for what you do to do the rest. People get excited for Black Friday as an event just as much as they anticipate the deals. Waking up early with your friends or family, bundling up in your favorite winter wear, stopping at Starbucks, and other similar Black Friday rituals have become so important to family/friend dynamics that even if you walk away without buying anything, you enjoyed the process. Build hype around your event, not your product and let the lines form!
Take Advantage of Holiday Marketing
Black Friday has become synonymous with American holidays, with commercials and print advertisements utilizing Thanksgiving and Christmas imagery and messaging. As such, it has become so necessary to participate in the holiday deals that the companies marketing their products do not actually market the product. They market the holiday, e.g.
“It’s not Thanksgiving without Black Friday.”
“Black Friday IS Your Christmas Shopping.”
You should use the wave of holiday marketing for your advantage. Client appreciation gifts, social media images, specific holiday specials, etc. the options are truly limitless. Throw in some cross-promotion hashtags that correlate with each holiday and you’re really setting the stage for holiday marketing success.
Add An Element of Exclusivity
Technically, Black Friday is a 24 hour sale. As such, if you do not participate, you miss out. While, yes, many places have started increasing the timespan of their sales, it is still very limited. People often joke about suffering from “Fear Of Missing Out” syndrome, but the innate need to feel included is very real. By making Black Friday such a limited time frame, or by making the deals limited to the first X amount of customers through the door, these companies are cashing in on our natural desires to feel included. You will rush to their brick-and-mortar location. You will trample over others to get through the doors. You will spend countless dollars on deals that really do not save you that much. And you will do it because you appreciate the rush, want to join the ranks of other Black Friday shoppers, and like to feel like you are a part of something bigger.
Next time you plan on participating in Black Friday, take some time the month beforehand to record the prices of your favorite items. I guarantee you that the deals are not exactly what you think they are. While a few people will cash in on the “insane door-busting deals,” the vast majority of you will buy things you do not need at prices that barely differ from their year-round counterparts. And that’s okay. These companies pay millions for marketing strategies because it works!