Spoiler alert- reading to the end will give you some hope.
This year I've taken a cold hard look at the madness that is Black Friday outside of the U.S.
In an effort to combat the dent in sales felt by the major online players, European retail businesses have tried to compete by launching their own "Black Friday" deals or even more embarrassingly launched "Black Friday Week" or "Black Week".
On several levels this is a road that leads to ruin. Let's look at why.
1. Amazon & co. have already won the psychological battle.
America and American companies have the proverbial high ground, by nature of being part of the initial drive of the event. Literally every conversation I've had this week has seen people mention "Amazon" within 20 words of "Black Friday"(I did count). Like it or not, that's your starting point. If you think that's a negative, well it's also the starting point of your geographical competitors too.
2. Doing Black Friday tells your customers not to visit you.
Think about it. You are telling your customers all your deals and value for them will be there for them on Friday. So why would they visit either side of that day? So you will employ staff, stock shelves and wait for customers that aren't going to come all week because your Black Friday promotion has told them not to. You know what they are doing on the 6 days they aren't visiting your store? Browsing online. You've not just lost, you've done it spectacularly.
3. "Black Friday Week" confuses the hell out of your customers.
So you think you can counteract point 2 by having a week long event? You can't. The word "Friday" in "Black Friday Week" is screaming at your customers. It's a red flag telling them subconsciously that the real deal will still be Friday. So even if you manage to get this customer in your door, they will not commit to buying until Friday, no matter how politely you inform them the discount is week long.
SO....with all that in mind, can you win?
The answer is you certainly can, but it won't be easy. Here's a few tips...
1. Acknowledge the novelty of it.
It's an American tradition linked to thanksgiving. If your business isn't driven by that market, don't act like it is. Play up the novelty of it. Today we rolled out a campaign that lead "Stuffed from all that Thanksgiving Turkey? Of course you aren't..." playing up the madness of non U.S. businesses jumping on the bandwagon. Be yourself.
2. Offer something unique.
If you go with the standard 10% off and your product is freely available online, you are facing an uphill battle. Instead, offer something unique for the day. Free branded pen with suitcase purchase? Free manicure when you book a hair appointment? Think about what you can reward your customer with that isn't a generic discount. Give them something rather than offer to reduce something.
3. Get an expert in.
If not us, then someone. But get someone who has a flair for thinking outside the box. Someone can make the event work in your favour by hacking the concept. Doing what everyone else is doing is not the way to get ahead. Throwing advertising money at facebook ads or sending out endless mailing list spam won't help you stand out. You need innovation. If you can come up with something, great. But if you can't get in touch.
I'd love to hear your comments, insights and opinions on it. Get in touch over @wesellwant on the social channels or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org