Note: Upon her indictment on federal money laundering charges and her arrest February 8, 2022, Inc. dismissed Heather Morgan as a contributing columnist. As is our practice, we do not unpublish editorial content, and rather have added this note for full transparency.
Not a fan of holiday music, big shopping crowds or conspicuous consumption in general?
But all these holiday shopping deals, especially Black Friday, can teach us invaluable sales and marketing lessons. And these lessons are not just for consumer companies: even enterprise Business to Business (B2B) companies or scrappy SaaS startups can apply Black Friday-style techniques to drive revenue growth.
Check out these five actionable tips:
1. Build up hype
Part of why Black Friday works is because customers know it's coming. If you want to have a big promotion or special event to work, you need to announce it in advance and promote it over time. That way you can build up excitement and give people time to prepare for it, and make sure they're available.
2. Create urgency
This is one of the simplest but most effective sales and marketing tactics. B2B salespeople often try to do this by saying pricing terms will expire on some specific date, but most savvy buyers know this is an empty threat. In order to create real urgency, you need credibility. Customers have to believe that they really will miss out if they don't act now. One good way to do this is by offering them some special perk that they could not get otherwise if they act within a specific time period. This could be unlocking a premium feature or maybe even a new feature that's still in private beta that you haven't even released to everyone yet.
3. Drive excitement with scarcity
Scarcity works great with urgency. Together the two create a magical marketing combination: exclusivity. An easy way to build credible urgency is having a finite or scarce quantity of something that you're selling or giving away with an offer. This is a little bit harder to do with software than it is with physical goods. But even SaaS companies could have a holiday offer that says something like "the first 50 customers to buy [x] will also get [y]," with 'y' being some exclusive limited offer. It could be as simple as some fun, branded customer swag, or a sought after gadget. Just be ready to deal with existing big customers who want one too--you might need to stash away some extras for your customer success team to share with them!
4. Make your customers advocates
Most successful consumer-facing companies realize the power of customer advocacy and social proof. Many of them even aggregate social media postings about their products onto their website to demonstrate social proof, and actively sell through their most loyal customers on social media through loyalty programs, affiliate links, etc. But you don't have to always give away something if your margins are thin or you're worried about devaluing your product--just giving a shout-out or a simple thank you to your best advocates can go a long way. Likewise, you can have built-in mechanisms to encourage your customers to share their experience on social media throughout your customer journey.
And if you're worried about bad reviews, you can start by asking them to give you a simple rating out of five stars. If they give you a good rating, then you can redirect them to a link to share on social or some other review site. But if they give you a poor rating, you can direct them to a link that goes to your support or product team to receive their feedback.
5. Run split tests
Testing is the key to improvement and success of all kinds--whether it's sales, marketing, product, or even entertainment. You don't need to wait for a holiday offer to be running A/B tests. Consider running experiments around different types of offers, sales pitches, and pricing models in order to optimize your conversion rates, and drive sales overall. These data insights will help you figure out the optimal way to sell and market, but make sure to interpret your data correctly: don't forget about statistical significance when running tests! Also, remember that correlation doesn't always imply causation, meaning that just because two things are trending in the same direction, doesn't mean they cause each other.
Do you have other insights from consumer-businesses that B2B companies could learn from as well? If so, I'd love to hear.