Did it feel like Black Friday lasted nearly a month this year? Has your inbox been flooded with Cyber Monday teasers since the onset of November if not sooner? What were once day-long occasions to bolster holiday gift sales have become weeks-long marketing campaigns that run the gamut from price-driven to gift-driven and everything in between. You have retailers offering up charitable donations with purchase, exclusive social content teasing upcoming deals and, of course, limited time only offers based on price designed specifically to drive immediate action. So, as your inboxes continue to be overwhelmed with holiday offers from your favorite retailers (sorry – there’s still a few more weeks to go), what lessons can small businesses glean from the marketing madness that was Thanksgiving weekend 2015?
During the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many retailers teased rock bottom prices, limited time offers and even went so far as to preview a handful of their top specials for the weekend. They got their online audiences buzzing on social media, drove email opens and started building their store foot traffic and e-commerce hits for Thanksgiving weekend.
Whether you are unveiling a new product or service, announcing an expansion, launching a charitable giving campaign or hosting a once-in-a-lifetime event, develop a marketing strategy that teases the upcoming occasion, engages audiences and ensures the right people are tuned in when it comes time to make the big announcement.
Create a sense of scarcity
While the phenomenon of “doorbusters” can’t apply to every industry, there is something to be said for letting people know your offer won’t be around forever. Whether you offer a limited number of copies of a special toolkit download on your website, bundled services for a finite period of time or offer an incentive to win for qualifying purchases made during a dedicated time frame, a perceived sense of scarcity can help to drive immediate action.
Although creating a sense of scarcity can be a marketing opportunity, it can also present a marketing challenge. You don’t want target audiences to be frustrated by their inability to take advantage of an offer. You also don’t want the offer to seem so limited that audiences bypass it due to a perceived lack of opportunity to seize the advantage.
Social media is a powerful tool for staying on clients’ and prospects’ radars. It’s also key for driving traffic to your website and other online content. And, for many retailers, it’s also a great place to put the spotlight on a featured product and/or promotion.
As shown by countless retailers during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the days in-between, social media marketing helps to get the word out and bolster audience engagement. The built-in sharing functionality also lends itself to growing one’s audience. Take a tip from retailers this holiday season and find ways to use social media to put the spotlight on everything from your products and services to culture and charitable initiatives.
Deliver the “wow” factor
Once you’ve built up some anticipation, you need to follow-up the hype with a “wow.” While retail “wows” are often price-driven, particularly during the holiday season, they can also include incentives and experiences that span far beyond one’s shelves. The secret to a great “wow” is making sure it has a high perceived value amongst your target audiences and, of course, that it lives up to all of the hype you poured into teasing it.
In service industries, “wows” often solve clients’ problems/address a specific pain point that they are experiencing. Unveiling a “wow” of this nature demonstrates a company has a deep understanding of its clients’ wants and needs, and demonstrates that clients are being heard and that the company is committed to meeting their needs.
Know your audience
While by no means exclusive to holiday marketing, the importance of knowing one’s audience and understanding what motivates them to take action cannot be overstated. Whether your audience is motivated by charitable giving, purchase incentives, limited time offers or a combination of the like, know how to package your content – and your offer – to inspire the desired action at the right time. Among the tools companies can leverage to take their audience’s temperature are post-purchase surveys, focus groups and the list goes on.
While holiday marketing is often dominated by retailers, companies have the opportunity to break through the clutter by using their keen understanding of their customers’ wants and needs, timely environmental factors/opportunities and a spark of creativity to drive action. And, while the volume of Thanksgiving weekend marketing can be overwhelming, it’s only the start of what’s to come for the holiday season. The good news? It will end – eventually – and it will provide countless ideas and insights to help inspire both what to do and what not to do to marketing your products and services in 2016 and beyond.