The cultural and business values created by Black Friday pose a serious threat to the relationship between businesses and customers.
As consumers become part of a statistic, a number, and a purchase in a ledger, they are less likely to benefit from the kind of care and rapport that business owners work so hard to build. On the flip side, businesses and employees become no more than an end to a means for deal-thirsty consumers who are willing to literally kill for a good deal.
Let that sink in for a minute: There is a death ticker committed to tracking the number of Black Friday deaths since 2006.
If you think that these crowds care about your morals, brand loyalty, or team members, then consider how they treated their fellow humans who threatened their shopping experience. Black Friday reduces the buying experience to a cheap and meaningless interaction that leaves both parties only partially satisfied.
It may sound like I am merely a Black Friday “hater” (or even a hippie, anti-capitalist), but I assure you that neither of those labels apply.
In fact, I have stood in line at the Boise Towne Square mall in the wee hours of the morning to score half-price Christmas presents along with thousands of other people. I have since forgotten all of the stores and deals that I got that day, nor did I make any repeat purchases based on those one-day bargains.
But I have not forgotten viciously snapping at a poor, frazzled store clerk who forgot to offer leather cleaner to go with a pair of gloves that I had just bought for my dad. There had been signs all over the store that if they didn’t offer the cleaner, it was free — and in the commotion of the moment, the poor man had simply forgotten to upsell this simple product.
I’m not proud of how I acted, but as I was pushed against the register by surges of other shoppers, I selfishly demanded my free leather cleaner. Looking back, the cashier probably got in trouble for giving away a free product that has sat unused in my pantry for the past four years.
Needless to say, I understand the excitement and the adrenaline that shoppers experience during their Black Friday shopping excursions. I even understand retailers who are desperately trying to slash prices and get customers through the door after a slow summer season.
The key with this event, as with any marketing endeavor, is to do it the right way. The right way, in this case, is to have a relationship with your clients that will last beyond the twilight hours of
Gray Thursday Thanksgiving. This relationship is sure to create more customer satisfaction with your brand, a higher overall profit from sales, and a positive image that projects the business values of service and retention over the quick buck.
You can avoid these Black Friday mistakes by skipping the cheesy gimmicks and taking the time to court your customers and prospects. Of course, we believe that you should create that relationship by sending a monthly newsletter, but there are other ways to maintain a long-term relationship with clients throughout the holiday season and beyond.
You Can’t Shotgun a Lasting Relationship
The one thing that we have consistently found to be true is that stronger relationships come from direct mail. Whether you are sending postcards, a newsletter, or even just greeting cards, patients are more likely to create an emotional connection with your brand if you reach them through the mailbox.
Reach out to your audience LONG before Black Friday. Relationships follow a 90-day principle. This is about how long consumers will take to research a big purchase, and studies show that you should introduce your brand to customers approximately three months before you start asking them for money.
This means that you should start your direct mail advertising campaign TODAY. Literally, right now. Every day that you wait to start a relationship with customers, you are delaying your future profits. Your first contact is often the most important because it will give customers and prospects a basis for what they can expect from you moving forward.
It’s up to you to decide what kind of impression you want to make and how badly you want to create a strong relationship with customers. One of the best ways to do this is consistency. If you send a monthly newsletter, be sure to send a monthly newsletter.
Promising a regular mailer and then sporadically changing the format and timing is a sure way to waste a lot of time and money while confusing or disappointing clients. That being said, sending anything is better than sending nothing at all.
Most Black-Friday marketing strategies make the mistake of assuming that once customers are in the store they will open the gates to greater profits. This is not necessarily true, as most consumers do not make repeat purchases based on of a single deal.
Research shows that customers consistently return to brands they trust and those that are stored in their long-term memory as being reputable.
See, marketing is a lot like dating. For a lasting relationship, it is best to take things slow. Businesses who form a rapport with clients are far more likely to see customer retention and referrals than those who shotgun Black Friday deals once a year. So take it from the pros — instead of luring customers in for a one-time sale, invest in brand loyalty and create a relationship all year round.