The Black Friday Survival Guide For Brands Craving A Boost In Sales

This content provides tips for brands to survive the holiday season, including preparing ahead, establishing scarcity, and avoiding heavy discounting.

By Will Blunt ・7 min read
Best Practices
Campaign & Contest Ideas

The holiday season is almost upon us again…With this time of year comes certain expectations and opportunities for brands of all shapes and sizes to execute promotions, campaigns, and special offers -- all in an attempt to pique customer interest.One thing we do know is that consumer spending spikes in the holiday season. People are ready and willing to open up their wallets and hand over their hard-earned money for a few once-in-a-lifetime deals.In fact… people can get a little crazy!

The challenge you face is multi-level:

  • All of your prospects expect a deal. So to reap the rewards of increased consumer spending, you need to come to the party with an offer of value.
  • Everyone else is doing it, too. Just about every business conforms to the holiday season circus of deals and offers, including your competitors. So how will you ensure customers use their discretionary income to purchase your products rather than someone else’s?
  • Deals and discounts squeeze your margins. Many businesses choose to radically discount their products or services at this time of year, simply to compete and win new business. But this approach can slash your margins and put the health of your business at risk. So how do you compete without going under?

In summary, the Black Friday period can be overwhelming, chaotic, and severely damaging to a brand’s reputation and profitability if not handled in the right way. That’s why we’ve put together this survival guide of tips to help you get through the holiday season unscathed and positive about your results. Let’s get into it...

Tip #1. Be prepared

It might sound simplistic, but preparation is one thing that many brands don’t give enough time to. With a month left until Black Friday, you need to start planning now so that you are ready for the whirlwind.When it comes to Black Friday preparation, I’m not just talking about choosing an offer, whipping up a few emails, and being on the ready to handle customer support questions. Truly being prepared is far more than that.Here are some other vital things to consider:

  • What are your goals for the holiday promotions? How would you know whether or not they had been successful? How will you measure their success?
  • What offer/deal/discount will you offer during the period? Is it compelling for your prospects? Have you done the financial mathematics to determine whether or not this offer is profitable?
  • How will you handle a spike in customer service requests? Who else do you need on hand to help out?
  • Do you plan on re-engaging prospects after the holiday season? If so, what contact information do you need to capture? How will you automate this process?
  • How will you stand out from your competitors and other Black Friday offers on the market? Have you analyzed previous holiday season campaigns to see what you’re up against?
  • Which type of campaign will support the delivery of your primary offer? What collateral do you need to support this delivery mechanism? (Emails, blogs, landing pages, and banners etc.).
  • How will you test the campaign prior to launch to ensure it goes off without a hitch?

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts that influence the successful execution of a holiday season promotional campaign.

If you don’t plan ahead then you are bound to miss something important.

Tip #2. Establish scarcity

People don’t want to miss out, which often leads them to purchase a product or service that they aren’t even sure they want. By making your offer limited (or scarce) it creates a sense of urgency with prospects and entices them to take action.So, for your Black Friday promotion, limit your stock. Promote the fact that there are only a limited number of your once-in-a-lifetime offer available and that people need to act fast to secure theirs.Creating scarcity benefits your holiday promotion in numerous ways:

  • It establishes exclusivity, due to the fact that only a select group of people can take you up on your offer. This exclusivity helps people feel like they are part of something special and unique.
  • It generates urgency. As I mentioned before, limited stock accelerates the purchase decision of prospects because they don’t want to miss out. This is why eCommerce stores always show the stock count on products in a bold red color, like here:
Establish scarcity for Black Friday Survival

Example of visual urgency.

  • It maintains your brand equity. By limiting the number of discounts or offers you provide, it allows you to escape the holiday season without falling into the “discount brand bucket”. Too many businesses offer significant discounts during the holiday season and find that their customers become accustomed to paying a lower price. Subsequently, they are then forced to discount their products at other times of the year to accrue sales, creating a vicious cycle of discounting and margin-crushing.
  • It keeps things under control. Due to the uncontrollable nature of Black Friday and the holiday sale season in general, it can be overwhelming for your team to keep up with demand and service requests. This is not only stressful but can also result in a diminished reputation. By limiting your stock you take back control of the game and reduce the chance of things getting stressful and balls being dropped.
Genuine scarcity is a critical component of any marketing campaign, especially during the holiday season.

Tip #3. Avoid heavy discounting

It’s common to get over-excited when it comes to holiday promo campaigns and significantly slash prices to see a hockey-stick growth in sales.Not only does this limit your profitability but the domino effect is even more concerning. Support requests increase, staff are overworked and stressed, and worst of all, customers get used to paying a discounted price for your quality product or service.Here is a video from Derek Halpern than illustrates the problem with heavy discounting:

Instead of relying on discounts during your Black Friday campaigns, here are a few other high-value offers you can use:

  • Bundle deals. If you have multiple products or services, you can bundle them together and charge a collective rate. This works especially well if you have a series of low-cost but high-value items you can bundle with your best sellers. See how Petplan bundled a complementary product with a discount:
bundle deals for Black Friday Survival

A Bundle Deal example.

  • Add-ons. Much like the bundle deal, you can increase the perceived value of your offer by including add-ons. Examples of add-ons may be high-margin complementary products, product set up, additional gold-class services, or access to an exclusive community.
  • Long-term discounts. Instead of discounting your products or services for one-off purchases, incentivize customers to sign up for a yearly or monthly subscription. It’s more attractive from a business perspective to offer a discount on lock-in subscriptions than a one-off sale because it means you accrue recurring revenue.
  • Conditional discounts. You can add conditions to your discounts and offers so that it encourages customers to spend a certain amount in your store. See how Casper did this below:
Conditional discounts for Black Friday Survival

An example of a conditional discount from Casper.These are just three ideas for adding more value to your offer without heavily discounting your product or service. But as you can see, an attractive offer for your customers isn’t always going to be about price.

Tip #4. Create long-term relationships

Far too often businesses find themselves on a nauseating rollercoaster of a sales cycle that peaks during the holiday season and falls off a cliff in January.Unfortunately, that January slide can result in a spiral downwards and even to eventual closure if you are not well prepared. The key to avoiding this ill-fated destination is to ensure the new customers you acquire during the holiday period come back time and time again.Here are some ideas to make this happen:

  • Sign customers up for a year.
  • Go above and beyond with your service to make the customer experience exceptional.
  • Ask for direct feedback and adjust your product strategy accordingly.
  • Trigger automated email campaigns at relevant times throughout the year.
  • Run campaigns at other times during the year, like the “Black Friday in July” offer from Petco below:
Create long-term relationships for Black Friday Survival

An example of a non-holiday campaign.

  • Sign them up for a loyalty program and offer regular incentives.
Are you proactively thinking about the second, third, or even fourth sale of a customer you acquire during Black Friday? If you’re not then you should be.

Tip #5. Stand out from the crowd

There’s no doubt about it, Black Friday and Cyber Monday create a lot of noise in the online world. So you need to come up with innovative ways to engage with your prospects, otherwise, you’ll be just another email in their trash folder.Interactive marketing techniques use state-of-the-art technology and modern design to improve the customer experience. They differentiate you from the competition and elevate your holiday season campaign above the noise so that people take notice.How do you use interactive marketing to stand out from the crowd? Here are some ideas:

  • Contests and Sweepstakes. From giveaways to raffles and social media photo contests, this form of engagement is a proven way to capture an audience’s attention. If you narrowly target your contest by focusing the prizes on your ideal buyer, you can then “up-sell” the non-winners with your Black Friday offer.
  • Polls and Quizzes. Polls and Quizzes have an element of excitement and fun. They are also built for virality because everyone wants to share their results! Use this form of interactive marketing to engage prospects, capture their information, and then offer them your Black Friday deal.
  • Interactive Emails. Hover image elements, animations, GIFs, and interactive buttons create an in-email experience for your prospects that will help you stand out from other companies during the craze of Black Friday campaigns. The Momentist use several elements of interactivity in their Black Friday email below:

  • Interactive Videos. Interactive videos increase engagement, viewing time, and conversions from video content given their gamified experience and personalization.

How do you plan on standing out from all of the other Black Friday emails in your prospect’s inbox? These interactive techniques are a few examples you may like to try.As Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the Holiday Season fast approaches is your business primed and ready to make the most of it? Use this Black Friday survival guide to stay ahead of the game!

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About the author

By Will Blunt ・7 min read

Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.

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