Hot Takes: Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Danielle Hannan

Hello and welcome to the first written edition of Hot Takes! (You can find past live versions on our YouTube channel.) This time, the Westies put their heads together to answer all of your burning questions about the madness that is marketing in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday realms.

You asked, and we’re ready to answer! Let’s get right to it.

Is it beneficial for all businesses to participate in Black Friday?

We’re going to have to be a little wishy-washy here: it depends. It is historically a major spending day in the United States. One study asserts that Americans are projected to spend “$148.5 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year.” So, like, a pretty penny. The same study reports that the industries most likely to benefit from Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales are furniture, appliances, electronics, and travel. (Admittedly, we are kind of curious to see if the travel industry will benefit much this year.)

Conversely, it may not make as much sense for smaller businesses to participate in Black Friday for several reasons. Many small businesses are either too focused on preparing for Small Business Saturday, can’t afford to advertise their incentives, or don’t have the flexibility in their margins to provide price cuts like large corporations. Regardless of these factors, consumers are looking to spend money.

To a certain extent, the built in Black Friday tide will float all ships. If it works for your particular business model, it’s well timed for you to participate. But, the massive amount of competition must be taken into account. If your offers aren’t compelling, it may not be worth the time or investment. Soooo, what we’re trying to say is: It’s up to individual businesses to determine whether or not Black Friday would be beneficial to them.

What should businesses do for Black Friday in the Covid world?

First and foremost, we highly, highly recommend having a fully optimized, intuitive website. Even prior to the current pandemic we find ourselves in, this is a necessity. You can read more about that on #7 in a recent blog of ours.

Don’t get too down on yourself if you don’t quite have an e-commerce site set up at this time. (We definitely suggest adding it to the top of your to-do list, though.) It’s okay to rely on brick-and-mortar sales—just make sure you’re following all guidelines put in place by your state, city and/or county. Additionally, as a privately-owned business, it’s your prerogative to enact any additional safety measures you feel are appropriate, such as a mask requirement, limiting the occupancy, or providing hand sanitizing stations throughout your store.

If you are relying on in-person sales, consider offering additional training for your employees. Black Friday is hectic during non-pandemic years; tempers might flare. Having employees prepared in relation to store policies, offer details, extra Covid precautions, and conflict resolution will be helpful in the long run.

What if my business can’t afford to run a big sale?

That’s okay. Instead, choose to share information about your brand and what value your products or services provide, whatever that may be. (A fantastic example of this is Deciem’s KNOWvember campaign; check it out.)

In the past, we’ve gone into detail about how much consumers want to support businesses that share similar values, but here is a quick recap:

  • 76% of Americans would refuse to purchase a product if they found out a company supported an issue that does not align with their beliefs.
  • 50% of global consumers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services.
  • 76% of young people said they have purchased (53%) or would consider purchasing (23%) a brand/product to show support for the issues the company supported.
  • 67% of young people that have stopped purchasing (40%) or would consider stopping purchases (27%) if the company stood for something or behaved in a way that didn’t align to their values

Tell your potential customers about all the care that goes into the products and/or services you provide; show them the extra effort you put in to ensure they have a pleasant experience shopping with you. Consumers want to get behind brands; show them why your business is worthy of that kind of loyalty.

What if my business can’t afford to promote our big sale?

That’s also okay. Two words for those of you in this predicament: social media. Utilize organic social media posts across all platforms. Commit to posting 2-3 times a day. Consumers want to support small businesses right now, so spread the word—and do it for free, baby!

Collaborate with other small businesses. Swap social media profiles with one another to engage with an entirely different audience. Both parties will benefit from the exposure at no cost to either.

Consider running a contest or giveaway that encourages your followers to spread the word for you. Meaning, tell them to tag x amount of people in a specific post for a chance to win something.

How do you approach Black Friday/Cyber Monday in a way that doesn’t follow the status quo/feel too “salesy?”

First, we’d like to say that there is absolutely no shame in screaming about the details of your sale from the rooftops—that’s exactly what these days are for, and consumers have come to expect this type of promotional advertising. And as previously discussed, consumers are looking to spend right now. But, if that strategy doesn’t jive with your brand, no worries. We have additional ideas for you.

While you should still advertise your special offer(s), it doesn’t have to be the focus of your messaging. Consider explaining the benefit of your product with an afterthought of “now x% off through [date.]” Consumers will focus on the good your product provides and then will be pleased to learn about the additional price cut.

There are likely some businesses who don’t feel ethically or morally right encouraging people to make purchases right now. For some brands, encouraging consumers to spend money rather than helping their community is not in alignment with their values, and feels wrong to do. And that is 100% valid as many people are struggling financially in the wake of the pandemic. But, this doesn’t take away from the fact that businesses need to make money to pay their employees and stay in business.

Again, deciding the best course of action for this particular conundrum will depend on what feels true to your company and your brand values. If you are feeling guilty about your company’s  participation in Black Friday or Cyber Monday, consider implementing some sort of charity aspect into your sale, such as encouraging customers to donate one canned food item to unlock a deal.

Thanks so much for kicking it with us and joining this extra special edition of Hot Takes! Contact us via social media (@116andwest on all platforms) or shoot us a line at whatsup@116andwest.com with any additional, burning questions about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.