I’ve had it up to here with Black Friday on the local marketing level. I know you can’t see where “here” is so it’s hard to see where I’ve had it up to but trust me, i’m done with it.
Every business is now trying to get into Black Friday which is understandable. There is tons and tons of business done on Black Friday so why not get your piece. There are very few “holidays” soley dedicated to consumerism so it makes sense to take advantage of it if you are a retail business.
The problem is that local businesses, DON’T GET IT! I’d like to make a comparison. Just because you get tattooed, buy fancy basketball shorts and wear the best Nike shoes, doesn’t make you a professional basketball player. It doesn’t even make you an amateur. It makes you a poser. You may look the part but you don’t have the goods to back it up. This is what’s happening on the local level. Advertisers are spending thousands of dollars to make Black Friday ads in the form of commercials, emails, banners etc etc and they look the part. It looks like they’re all setup to take advantage of this consumerist extravaganza. The problem is these companies are posing, or at the very least, they don’t realize WHY the big box retailers are so successful and in not realizing, they FAIL.
Why is it called Black Friday?
Many merchants objected to the use of a negative term to refer to one of the most important shopping days in the year. By the early 1980s, an alternative theory began to be circulated: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss for most of the year (January through November) and made their profit during the holiday season, beginning on the day after Thanksgiving. When this would be recorded in the financial records, once-common accounting practices would use red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to show positive amounts. Black Friday, under this theory, is the beginning of the period when retailers would no longer have losses (the red) and instead take in the year’s profits (the black). The earliest known use, which like the 1961 and 1966 examples above presents the “black ink” theory as one of several competing possibilities, was found by Bonnie Taylor-Blake of the American Dialect Society in the November 28, 1981 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
If the day is the year’s biggest for retailers, why is it called Black Friday? Because it is a day retailers make profits – black ink, said Grace McFeeley of Cherry Hill Mall. “I think it came from the media,” said William Timmons of Strawbridge & Clothier. “It’s the employees, we’re the ones who call it Black Friday,” said Belle Stephens of Moorestown Mall. “We work extra hard. It’s a long hard day for the employees.”
The Christmas shopping season is of enormous importance to American retailers and, while most retailers intend to and actually do make profits during every quarter of the year, some retailers are so dependent on the Christmas shopping season that the quarter including Christmas produces all the year’s profits and compensates for losses from other quarters.
Black Friday kicks off the Holiday Shopping season and hence get’s people to start shopping. In order to do so retailers have loss leaders to draw people to the stores. Most of the loss leaders are extremely limited but they are LEGIT deals that people would be thrilled to walk away with.
Back to Local. What i’m seeing is, a lot of these local retailers, like auto dealers, jumping on the bandwagon. They are spending on Black Friday advertising but they don’t have any legitimate deals that are any more exciting then any other day of the year. They’re giving away free stuff if you buy a car (oh and by the way working that into the pricing), they’re opening early (uhh ok) and providing “breakfast.” What they aren’t doing is advertising anything so spectacular that you’ll want to waste your morning there. Imagine there was a car dealer who really got it and had a schedule like this for Black Friday:
6:00am – Opening. First 100 people in the door registered for a Free Car Drawing.
7:00am – Free Car Drawing (Where they actually give away a free car or car lease)
7:05am – It’s announced that If you were entered into the Free Car Drawing and Didn’t Win, You Can Buy Certain Cars On The Lot For Dealer Cost. (Hence liquidating unwanted inventory)
8:00am – Anyone working a deal is entered to win something else free.
10:00pm – One Hour Only Deals – You Must Be There To Hear The Deals Announced
etc etc etc
Make this into an event and make offers that are legitimately great. People aren’t stupid. They can see through manufactured sales and ehh offers. Local has the opportunity to snatch up Black Friday dollars but not if they don’t want to be true professionals and offer deals that truly are fantastic. I’m sure i’ll hear some competing arguments like well, car dealers don’t do big business in the Holiday Season so they can’t have loss leaders the way retailers do. OK, well if that’s the case then those businesses shouldn’t take part in this. You need to look at WHY the holiday has been so successful in other industries and port the concepts over. Otherwise you’re just mimicking and you are setting yourself up for failure.