Should I do a Black Friday Deal? Can Following the Crowd be Good for a Small Business?
Black Friday has arrived in all it's glory in the UK again this weekend and we're just about to career head-long into Cyber Monday.
Black Friday Bandwagon
I've seen a lot of small businesses jumping on the 'Black Friday' bandwagon on social media, offering various discounts, all jostling for attention with the bigger retailers on my social feed. My news feed was basically a plethora of 'Black Friday' deals, all trying to vie for my attention, and there were LOTS! Did any of them stand out and speak to me? There were so many of them that it's hardly surprising that the answer is no. Why? Because it was too difficult to differentiate one from the other, and I'm only human. It's social media, it's meant to be devoured 'on the go' and I it will only grab my attention for a very short time.
The Buying Journey
So what do I mean by only human? Well, us humans are creatures of habit and when we look at buying from a company, without realising it we go through something called the buying journey, it's a process of psychological and sociological factors that lead us to the decision to make a purchase. Some journeys will be more complex than others;
For example, I see a Mars Bar in a shop - there will be factors that I will only briefly consider as it's a low cost purchase, such as 'Am I hungry?' 'Have I got some change in my pocket?' Those two things might be the only consideration I make. However, if I wanted to invest in something else, maybe I'm looking at buying a photography course, or considering having my hair professionally coloured for the first time. My decision process for this is going to be vastly different; I will do my research, I will want to know if the people I am researching appear to be knowledgeable in their field. I will want to know what their qualifications are, what products they use and whether they are easy for me to get to. I might want to know if some of my friends have used the services as this will help me to confirm if they are trustworthy. I might spend a while on the internet looking at various purveyors of these services. So you see, my buying and decision journey is far more complex for the photography course or hair colour than buying the Mars bar. I will also be going through something called the 'Know, Like, Trust' cycle:
Developing Trust with Your Customers
First of all, I will want to know your business, I will be looking for you on the internet, perhaps I'll ask for recommendations on social media. I might not be ready to make a decision yet, but I now have my list of recommendations or businesses I have found online. I now Know them, however, I'm yet to Like or Trust them because I've not seen any proof of being able to like or trust them yet. I might follow a few companies for a while on various channels and I might start to engage or 'like' some of the posts put out, probably by the businesses that are showing their knowledge or proof of quality (testimonials and pictures of recent work), in these areas and it is this knowledge and proof of quality that will lead me to begin to Trust the business and therefore more likely to buy from them.
So What's All That Got to Do with Having a Black Friday Deal or Not?
The thing about social media is to remember that every person that interacts with your business online is a real person, with a real life and real aspirations. They will also be going through the buying and decision making processes that I have touched on above if they are looking at your products and services. If I'm looking for a Black Friday deal, it is not because I want to begin a relationship of liking and trusting a business, I want a quick fix deal for something that I've probably wanted to buy for a long while, such as a TV or a computer and I've already done my research on the brand I want - I've just been waiting for the price to come down. Am I likely to be entering into a 'know, like, trust' cycle with the vendor that I'm buying from on Black Friday? No, of course not. I just want the best deal and that's the end of the transaction.
David vs Goliath
My point is, as a small business, if you are trying to do a Black Friday deal alongside the behemoths of the High Street and internet retail World, you're probably going to get lost in the noise. The other point I am trying to make is that Black Friday is probably not the best day to be appealing to people who have never entertained your products and services before. IF they do manage to notice your posts about Black Friday above all the noise, they are going to be looking for something quick and transactional and for this reason, they won't necessarily be your 'ideal customer'. They just want to make a saving and won't necessarily be loyal to your brand or business at all. they probably won't even be repeat customers.
Show Your Customers How You Add Value Instead
So my advice to you is to think carefully about adding to the noise of Black Friday with a discount that might be more damaging to your business than you realise - it's not what your ideal customer necessarily wants from you. What they want is to Know, Like and Trust your business before they make their considered purchase from you. Put your energy into educating your page followers and business 'likers' about the value behind your business, products and services, it will serve you far better in the long run and it won't undervalue what you sell for the other 364 days of the year.