How B2Bs Can Beat the Black Friday Blues
Black Friday has long been the kick-off of the holiday shopping season, a day famous (and infamous) for big advertising pushes, big crowds, and – fingers crossed – big revenues for retailers.
Here are the U.S. numbers from Black Friday 2013, as reported by statisticbrain.com:
- $57 billion: Total spent
- 307 million: Average number of consumers shopping (in stores or online)
- $213: Average consumer spending in bricks-and-mortar stores
- $194: Average consumer spending online
- 23%: Retail shoppers who camped out at a store (arriving before midnight)
But what if you’re not a retailer?
Is there a B2B Black Friday equivalent? More to the point, can B2Bs get in on the shopping-frenzy action and gain some top line love?
The consensus is a resounding “yes.” And although the revenue lift may not be as spectacular as what B2C’ers experience, the bright side is that you’ll likely not have any newsworthy, caught-on-camera fistfights breaking out in the aisles.
So although B2Bs generally can’t compete with door-buster deals and midnight store openings, you can definitely reap the benefits of Black Friday … and Cyber Monday, for that matter. Here are some strategies and tips to make it happen.
4 Strategies that Make It Easy for Businesses to Spend Money with You
- Make the most of use-it-or-lose-it budgets. For most organizations, there’s no such thing as “rollover budgets”; that is, if allocated dollars aren’t spent by the end of the year (or the quarter), they’re generally gone. Take advantage of this by promoting your products and services at a range of price points that meet the budgets of your target business customers. BUT …
- Know your customers’ budgetary cycle. Not all businesses have fiscal years that align with the calendar. So it’s wise to know when your customers are keenest to spend, either in general or due to leftover budgets that are on the chopping block if unused. This is not necessarily tied to Black Friday, but it’s a best practice at any time.
- Tailor your products and services to your customer’s needs. Sounds pretty obvious, particularly since we’re so used to retailers targeting and retargeting us based on our search patterns and purchase histories. B2Bs need to take a page from the retailer’s playbook and analyze what their customers want, why they want it, and when they want it. Tailor product and service offerings, pricing, and promotions to meet these needs and you’ll likely increase your sales.
- Address the need to invest, and communicate it repeatedly. According to research consultancy Chadwick Martin Bailey, businesses (just like consumers) are always interested in making life better; e.g., through new technologies or fashions. So just as retailers promote the latest tablets and gaming systems to bring joy to consumers, B2Bs can promote products and services that will “bring joy” to their business customers in the form of new opportunities to grow and advance their businesses. In a B2B sale, personal value has twice the impact of business value in closing the sale, says Executiveboard.com.
3 Tips to Break Through the Clutter
- Send emails over Thanksgiving weekend. Biz Dev expert Matt Heinz has often referenced studies that show most people check their work email over the holidays. While it’s true that Cyber Monday has increased the volume of emails hitting the Thanksgiving airwaves, planning email campaigns right before and on Thanksgiving is still a viable tactic for B2Bs to increase leads, particularly at the top of the funnel. For example, business customers who seek a bit of peace from family activities may be quite interested in signing up for a future webinar or downloading a case study.
- Optimize your landing pages. According to SiriusDecisions, 80% of B2B buyers conduct their own research online before ever engaging with a seller. That means they’re trawling your website and viewing your content to figure out if you can deliver what they want and need. After employing some of the above strategies, be sure your landing pages are designed to capture your target’s attention and convince them to spend money with you. For example:
- Create “business guides” – landing pages that showcase your products and services based on specific business challenges.
- Practice good search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to help your pages get found by prospective business buyers. Our eBook, SEO 101: The Basics and Beyond, shows you how.
- Make your site (and your emails) responsive to ensure they render well on any device and screen size. Why? According to Google, 75% of users prefer mobile-friendly websites, and EmailClientMarketShare.com says 43% of email opens are on mobile devices. For B2Bs this may be a stretch goal, but it’s becoming increasingly important. (If you’re an Act-On customer, you can get to the finish line quicker with our responsive template designs.)
- Mix up your promotions. Just like your retailer counterparts, putting a twist on your marketing mix can help you generate traffic, both foot and cyber. Here are some ideas:
- Extend sales and/or warranties. Add a bit of urgency to grab attention and leverage some psychology (e.g., “Another 23 hours and 56 minutes to save!”)
- Join forces with partners and associates – aka “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Cross-promote complementary products and services (e.g., salesman tablets and ERP system integration, or plumbing fixtures and custom tile). Like each other’s Facebook page to help build strong connections between your respective businesses and fans, thereby widening your potential audience.
- Create and heavily promote deals that only come around at the end of the year. For example, Laurentian Bank of Canada offers new investors a 3-day opportunity (every Nov 29 – Dec 2) to take advantage of its most flexible terms. The bank hasn’t published how many new customers this rakes in, but I’d bet one whole Canadian dollar that it’s a bunch.
What about Cyber Monday?
According to comScore, Cyber Monday 2013 was the heaviest U.S. online spending day in history with consumers spending $1.7 billion clams. (That’s 18% more than in 2012.)
So yes, B2Bs should absolutely grab onto the coat tails of Cyber Monday just as they do for Black Friday, because the two shopping days (three if you include Small Business Saturday) are bleeding into each other.
It was bound to happen, right? B2C and B2B customers now seamlessly engage with physical and digital shopping experiences – online campaigns are being used to drive bricks-and-mortar visits and in-store promotions are being used to drive online purchases. And remember this: retail consumers are also business owners and business buyers.
Since approximately half of all Cyber Monday purchases are made at work, why not get your B2B products in front of your business customers … who are online right now searching for – and receptive to – deals?
I can’t think of one good reason not to.
“Black Friday gold prices” image from Library of Congress.
“Cyber Monday” image by Kevin Marks, used under a Creative Commons license.