As we are now officially in Autumn (a.k.a. ‘Fall’ for our US readers), you are probably starting to turn your attention towards this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.
With so much riding on these key sales dates, as well as meeting with your IT team to make sure your site stays up and external courier companies to ensure parcel deliveries, you will be probably also be firming up your advertising budget and deciding on the key messages you want to get across.
But as well as thinking about how much you can spend on ads, you must start thinking about the communication channels you need to get your messages to the eyes and ears of your target audience. Because, you would be ill advised to rely on paid advertising alone to cut through all the competitor noise and actually reach your potential customers. What you need is a trusted communication channel that doesn’t depend on paid ads.
First here are some facts from 2014:
Kantar Media reported that Walmart alone spent US$70m in TV ads in November 2014 in preparation for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Kenshoo found US Paid Search spend increased 49% on Thanksgiving and 24% on Black Friday compared to 2013
Kenshoo also stated UK PPC search spend jumped 145% on Black Friday 2014 compared to the previous day, which was 88% higher than ad spend in 2013
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday already predicted to beat the records set last year, we can only expect that ad spending on TV, paid search and affiliate networks will reach even headier highs than last year.
Even if you have a war chest for an armoury of ads across all the leading sites and social networks, how will you get your messages heard when every competitor is also screaming at the top of their voice from every paid marketing channel ‘75% off ’, ‘Buy one get one free’ or similar enticements. Well you could go and see your super-expensive Madison Avenue or Soho advertising agency and brief them to come up with something super-expensive that might go viral like ‘Charlie bit my finger’ or the ‘Evian Dancing Babies’. And with luck it might even be on brand, related to what you do and maybe even actually deliver some sales!
But there is a better option.
The better option is to get your existing customers, the ones who already love you and your products, to get you new customers. We live in a World where Forrester found 70% of US online adults trust brand or product recommendations from friends and family but only 10% trust ads on websites. Nielsen similarly found 84% of global respondents found friends and family recommendations the most trustworthy. So when customers increasingly distrust advertising and celebrity endorsements you should be encouraging your customers to tell their friends and family about you not just spending more on ads.
In fact, you should be constantly engaging and motivating your existing customers to bring you new ones. To paraphrase an old beloved UK ad, we think ‘a referral friend scheme is for life not just for Black Friday’. But the importance of having this kind of scheme up and running in the months up to Black Friday is because that is how you will cut through that noise from the competition.
By having a seed audience of engaged customer referrers now, you can contact them directly by email, social post or IM and offer them a great new deal if they bring in enough friends. Because, if you provide them with proper motivation and make sharing easy, you can incentivise them to share directly to their friends, family and colleagues. Because we open and read messages from people we like and trust this means that your messages will cut through the noise and be heard.
And because your customers are recommending your product to their friends it comes via the most powerful and trusted marketing channel imaginable ‘a recommendation from a trusted friend’.
How you do this is by adding the right refer-a-friend tools to your site as soon as possible. Provided your tool includes concepts like personal rewards, gamification and communal targets you can create a ‘one-to-many’ referral channel that encourages your customers to refer again and again. But the key is that by doing this you will have built up a trusted communication channel with a large seed audience of brand advocates to get your Black Friday and Cyber Monday messages where they belong – in the eyes and ears of potential customers.
We are sure you really want to hit it out of the park this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In which case there is no time to waste. The clock is ticking. So drop us a line and let’s talk about how we can build up a seed audience for your seasonal campaigns and make them a huge hit.
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