The initial returns from Black Friday sales show online shopping trumped bricks-and-mortar shopping. The number of people heading to the malls was down five percent over last year.
While the National Retail Foundation felt the downturn was certainly caused by more people jumping online plus a diverse view on the economic recovery, the biggest factor was major retailers promoting Black Friday-level discounts as early as Halloween. The big players never let up in using TV, direct contact and social media.
There are lessons to be heeded for our industry as game-changing year-end sales loom in addition to planning for 2015. Keep your gun blazing and be bold enough to not only pull the trigger but pull it first!
Here are some observations of what I view as the right things to do:
RIGHT TIME: “Pre” Is Not A Dirty Word!
Walmart, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Target were first to begin pre-Black Friday discount advertising starting October 31 and were the biggest winners.
As you look at 2015, plan to be first with your message. In January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, January 19 (after the second payday on the Thursday prior). The same goes for Presidents Day, on Monday, February 16. With the Fourth of July on a Saturday, a “pre” event will be a necessity.
The right time is something we often refer to as “guerrilla” marketing, because it’s literally an ambush in how it catches the market off guard.
RIGHT OFFER: The Deal Better Be Real!
During our Thanksgiving dinner conversations, even Mike Strong had seen a broadcast ad featuring a desirable TV on sale and said, “It’s the real deal!” Why? He had done comparison shopping online to validate this door-buster.
One can only imagine the cross-shopping between the big-box stores to see how advertised offers compare. We are well aware of how much car and truck shoppers are investigating from the factory to the dealer 500 miles down the road to your competition across town. Make your deal stand out and absolutely stand up to consumer scrutiny.
RIGHT PLACE: Connect The Awareness Dots.
The amount of research related to finding a customer’s “push point” continues to ramp up as marketers try to clarify the process leading to purchase. One thing
is certain: awareness for your store must be created!
We always talk about connecting the dots in the media marriage – a TV message based on a real offer is then validated by a home page graphic and supported by an eblast to your customer body that confirms the deal and urges immediate response. Budgets are always a consideration, but the awareness value of each dollar is enhanced by a plan crafted to cover and connect the bases as efficiently as possible.
RIGHT BUYERS: Know What They Are Thinking.
One example of knowing what the potential market is thinking is in advertising from cable companies and dish providers about high definition (HD). It’s no wonder 60″ flat screens were being advertised so heavily – electronic retailers were aware (and built awareness).
A relevant parallel to our industry is fuel prices. National news is covering it, millions of holiday travelers experienced it, and we are aware from history that the drop in fuel price equates to more interest in trucks and SUVs. Our dealers focusing on trucks have seen this proven true once again.
Identifying the right people and understanding what might push their purchase button is based on both the sales history of your dealership and a keen eye on conditions in the marketplace. I have to say it: existing customers equal the best opportunities.
Be wary of anyone who tells you to consider yanking the plug on one form of media in favor of another. I have seen major next-day traffic generated at minimal expense because of planning. The target may be a potshot or a long shot, but until someone pulls the trigger a miss is as good as a mile.