We might be thinking about turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce right now, but in less than a week, many of us will be celebrating Cyber Monday. It’s a big day for online retailers, but there’s a lot to learn from Cyber Monday promotions, including marketing strategies that small business owners can use.
Here are three:
1. Create your own special discount day. Sure, Cyber Monday is normal now—we all know the Monday after Thanksgiving people will be shopping online, but it wasn’t always like that. Black Friday was the day everyone talked about until eight years ago. What happened then? Well, according to Wise Geek, “The US National Retail Federation’s Shop.org coined the term in 2005 based on an apparent increase in Internet traffic and sales on the first day most people return to work after the four-day weekend.”
What small businesses can do: Unlike Cyber Monday, you don’t necessarily have to choose a busy time of year to invent your own holiday. In fact, we suggest choosing a slow time of year for your business and developing a themed day that gets people excited.
For example, if you’re an acupuncturist or massage therapist and you find the week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically dead, you could create something called “Batteries Included Day. You would promote the fact that treatments on this day are only X dollars for 30 minutes and are designed for one thing: to re-charge people’s batteries after the holidays. Get in the habit of offering this every year. Yes, it might take a few years before people anticipate it, but it’s worth building up. And if it’s a hit? Hold the day twice a year, like in the middle of June, when people are busy with end of school, graduations, weddings, and vacation planning.
2. Piggyback on the allure of an existing holiday. OK, so Black Friday might not be an official holiday, but plenty of people certainly treat it as such. The Cyber Monday marketers struck gold when they piggybacked on Black Friday’s momentum in order to create their own holiday.
What small businesses can do: Focus on some little-known holidays. A great source is Chase’s Calendar or Events. This book highlights all sorts of unusual days (like National Mint Julep Day or National Pasta Day). Find one that fits with your company and create an annual promotion around it. Or choose a holiday that is related to your business and piggyback a promotion onto it.
Landscapers might plan something around Earth Day. A Chinese food restaurant could plan something around Chinese New Year. A western wear retailer could piggyback on the National Day of the Cowboy. The beauty of this is that you don’t have to explain the connection—people will get it, and, over time, they might come to associate your business with that holiday (a good thing!).
A well-known example is McDonald’s and its Shamrock Shake, which is out for a limited time, starting (usually) at the end of February and through the end of March. Saint Patrick’s Day, of course, is only one day, but McDonald’s has managed to leverage and maximize this promotion for well over 30 days. Fans anticipate it every year, to the point that there are message boards announcing where Shamrock Shakes have been spotted.
3. Stretch it out. It’s the holiday season. It’s more than just one day or two days. It’s a whole bunch of days where you can make a splash. In other words, this is not the time to be strict with deadlines or rules. In an article called “3 Things Cyber Monday Can Teach You About Marketing,” the author, Erik Sherman, notes that many large retailers, like Amazon, will often keep their Cyber Monday deals running all week. “The lesson for small businesses is to increase the urgency of promotions by limiting availability. But don’t necessarily cut off late customers completely.”
What small businesses can do: Honor “late” sales and Cyber Monday coupons and prices for the whole week. You can also think beyond Cyber Monday and create special discount days throughout the month of December, much like Mod Cloth did with its “Gift of the Day” promotion from last year.
Don’t forget the power of gift cards either, especially when YOU offer them as a gift for your customers to use in the new year. In an article called “4 Ideas for Cyber Monday Sales,” the author explains how this gift card promotion would work: “Examples of these sorts of Cyber Monday sales might be something like ‘Get $100 gift card when you purchase $250 in Wrangler clothing. This Monday only.’ Or, ‘Get a $25 gift card when you purchase $50 in toys today, online.’” You’d need to make it clear that the gift cards are valid only after January 1, 2014. But it’s a great way to entice people back to your store during typically slower months.
Does your business celebrate Cyber Monday? What marketing strategies will you be using this holiday season? Share in the comments!