Why Wait Until Black Friday To Make Your Best Offer?

7 Ways to Increase Sales (Including Mobile & Social Media)

By noon on Thanksgiving day, there was a line of people camped out around the block at my local Best Buy waiting for the Black Friday Sale.

As a marketer, I wonder how many of these customers will buy anything that’s not on sale and what proportion of their purchases are just time shifted to take advantage of the reduced prices, after all it’s the holiday season. From a marketing perspective, have we just trained customers to expect holiday sales?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to spread your promotions through out the entire year?

Part of my first job out of business school was to analyze successful promotions and plan new ones. What I found working for a consumer-oriented direct marketer in the pre-Internet days was that the more you offered a given promotion, the less effective it was at generating sales. Based on my experience, it was important to mix up your offering even if the promotion was only presented differently in terms of graphics, wording and/or product offered.

All promotions aren’t created equal

You couldn’t offer your best promotion catalog after catalog without killing the promotion’s ability to generate sales and causing a drop off in purchases. The same holds true today whether you’re using social media, content marketing, digital marketing, offline marketing or mobile marketing. This includes Black Friday Sales.

Therefore, I recommend developing a promotional calendar where you change up promotions and make they contextually relevant to calendar events that resonate with your buyers.

7 Promotions to increase sales

Here are seven promotions you can incorporate into your social media, content marketing and/or mobile marketing to increase sales. The goal is to use your promotions to celebrate your customers.  (Here’s the eleven steps to creating a marketing offer.)

  1. Give new customers a special offer. Like love, there’s a honeymoon period. Take advantage of it by offering new customers a discount for making another purchase within a week or 30 days of their initial one. You benefit by targeting people who have already bought from you. They know you and you don’t need to invest additional marketing resources to find them. Actionable Marketing Tip: Collect their email or mobile information to make the offer. One easy alternative is to include the offer in the confirmation email you send.
  2. Entice customers to share their mobile phone numbers. Get customers to share their mobile phone numbers by offering a special, first time, mobile purchase deal. Actionable Marketing Tip: Don’t overlook less automated ways to collect this information.
  3. Make your customers’ birthdays special. Give your customers treats for their birthdays. Many clothing stores do this. It’s a great way to celebrate your customers. Actionable Marketing Tip: Make your customers feel special by including a shout out on your social media platforms. Of course, understand that many shoppers won’t want to share their age, so just use a month or month and day. (Here are 50 ways to celebrate your customers’ birthdays.)
  4. Celebrate your customers’ anniversary of shopping with you. For this to be effective, it should include a promotional incentive to entice buyers into your online and/or offline stores. Actionable Marketing Tip: Record shoppers’ start dates. Use this information as an incentive to gather shoppers’ email addresses. This is another way to celebrate your customers on your social media sites.
  5. Offer customers an upsell deal. This type of sale is good for getting customers to increase their order size. For example, if a customer is buying a black sweater, offer them a deal to buy a second one at the same time. Actionable Marketing Tip: If your order system won’t let you create this type of upsell, create a special offer for anyone buying specific products. Note: This shouldn’t be your newest product.
  6. Tempt customers with a free offer. This can be a special promotion or a free gift with purchase offer. Think: get a free belt with a pair of pants. For example, Uniqlo, a Japanese store with several outposts in Manhattan, offers free hemming on pants that cost over $20. It’s a great deal for both the buyer and the store. Customers get pants that fit their needs at no extra cost and it ensures that the customer keeps the pants. Actionable Marketing Tip: Brainstorm different ways to provide special services at a good price for your customers.
  7. Throw your own birthday party. My favorite local yarn store does this. They have a birthday party where they have a sale and give every buyer a small gift. In addition, they have cake and soda to get the locals into the store. Actionable Marketing Tip: If your actual anniversary isn’t convenient for this promotion, consider changing your anniversary celebration. I’ve had clients move their anniversary event to a time of the year when there are no other promotions.

The bottom line is that it’s important to drive sales throughout the year. Consider what’s most successful at persuading your customers to buy more from you, more frequently.  Don’t forget to include a call-to-action and a trackable promotion code to measure your results.

What promotions have worked well for your business?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38551892@N02/7238730060/

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