Is Your B2B Company Ready for Black Friday?
In November, your email inbox gets flooded with offers prepared for Black Friday. The same happens on social media, or even with outdoor ads you pass on your way to work. You might be wondering whether your B2B company should also jump on the sales frenzy. In this post, let's delve into the phenomenon of Black Friday in B2B to help you make the best decision.
Black Friday – Market Context
If you still think that Black Friday is for Americans, you're not entirely wrong. Black Friday, of course, originated from across the ocean, where customers kickstart their holiday shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and sellers take full advantage of it. However, for the past several years, the tradition of offering special promotions on the last Friday of November has made its way to Europe, complete with extensions like Cyber Monday and Black Week.
Holiday shopping is naturally the domain of B2C, so the question arises: should businesses with a B2B focus even care about Black Friday? There are several reasons why this might be a good idea:
- People Buy in B2B Too: Just like individual customers, B2B buyers appreciate the sense of having scored a good deal.
- Generational Shift: More and more B2B decision-makers belong to the millennial generation or even younger customers who are familiar with Black Friday and expect special promotions related to this day. They notice their absence.
- B2B Buyer Experience: B2B buyers increasingly want their purchasing experience to resemble what they're used to in B2C. They also prefer online shopping without direct contact with salespeople.
- Companies take part in Black Friday: Companies that organize their Black Friday promotions may be willing to take advantage of deals for their own business needs.
As you can see, there are plenty of arguments in favor of B2B companies offering deals for Black Friday. However, it may not be suitable in every case.
Should My Company Participate in Black Friday?
Whether your company should participate in Black Friday depends on the nature of your business. Here are a few questions to help you make an optimal business decision:
Who Buys From Me?
If decision-making for your products and services involves multi-person buying committees, a Black Friday promotion may not be a good idea. It's hard to expect all decision-makers, such as management and the finance department, to gather specifically to consider your Black Friday offer.
How Long is the Decision-Making Process for Your Customers?
If the sales process takes months, Black Friday might not be the ideal opportunity for you. Black Friday promotions usually operate on a "urgency" basis, creating a sense that the time to gain benefits is now. Consider whether a subscription or license renewal aligns with your business – for the latter, a shorter buying process could work, enabling you to benefit from a "quick" offer.
Custom Solutions vs. Crowd Frenzy
Do you sell standardized products or services, or do you customize them to individual customer needs? Tailored products can be challenging to offer at the scale that Black Friday demands. For products like spare parts or repairs needed in specific situations, selling on this particular day may not make much sense. In such cases, it's often more advantageous to stand out from the crowd rather than following the herd.
Embrace Online Sales
B2B customers who opt for online shopping increasingly prefer to go through the entire buying process on their own, without contacting the seller's sales department. If your business model primarily relies on online sales, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Black Week promotions can be just as effective for B2B as they are for B2C.
How to Prepare for Black Friday?
Once you've decided to embark on sales and marketing efforts related to Black Friday, it's essential to prepare thoroughly. This will help you avoid pitfalls and maximize the benefits of this special day.
- Choose the Offer Period: Decide whether you're running a marketing campaign on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Black Weekend, or for the entire week before or after the "darkest of Fridays." For businesses focused on online sales, "Cyber Monday" might be an especially good choice. Remember that the power of Black Friday offers lies in their limited availability.
- Start Early: Planning a good marketing campaign for Black Friday can take several months, so experts recommend thinking about it in the summer. If you're considering it now, it might be too late for a full-scale campaign. However, this doesn't mean all is lost. It's better to carefully assess your options, schedule, and develop an effective plan of action. Sometimes, it's wiser to focus on a few "shots" rather than launching a full-scale, multi-channel, but rushed campaign.
- Begin Gradually: Start with a more modest offer to your audience. You can limit communication, such as an "exclusive" email offer. See how your customers react and evaluate the results. After a few months, you can start preparing sales hits for the next year.
- Promotion and Consistent Communication: Your offers should be visible, and you should utilize your email database (of course, only for those who have given proper marketing consent), social media, and your sales team's personal LinkedIn profiles, as well as paid advertising. Ensure that communication is consistent, and that not only the marketing department, but also the sales and customer service departments are fully informed about your actions. If everyone knows everything, the risk of potential crises significantly decreases.
- Prepare for Increased Traffic: During Black Friday, your website must be ready for higher traffic. Ensure that it can handle the load and be prepared for efficient order processing.