At this time every year, B2C companies start planning for the most important sales holiday—Black Friday. But can Black Friday also work for B2B companies?
Where Black Friday & B2B Meet
Black Friday sales soared in 2020, with online sales growing by 22%, according to Adobe Analytics. This, in part, was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which threw a match on an already booming sales season for digital commerce.
Digital commerce is also impacting B2B buyer behaviour as they shift to a world of digital self-service and start to resemble their B2C counterparts. Recently, a survey by McKinsey noted that mobile-app ordering grew by 250%, preferences for digital orders increased by 30%, and live chat was the top channel for researching suppliers. In the near future, these trends will not change: 65% of bosses in the same survey noted that the remote model is as effective as their pre-COVID model.
With the use of online marketplaces, greater emphasis on boosting fulfilment, and personalising the customer journey, B2B consumer behaviour is becoming more like B2C. These changes make Black Friday—traditionally an event for B2C—possible for B2B as well. Let’s discuss Black Friday psychology, B2B’s fit in the Black Friday landscape, and some Black Friday best practices.
Related reading: Reimagining the B2B Buying Experience
The Psychology of Black Friday Shopping
Humans love a deal—it’s in our genetic code. Sales trigger our brains to release dopamine with hints of exclusivity on Black Friday sales copy: Discount, Sale, Deal, 50% off, Buy 1-Get-1 Free. These offers override our rational side and spark the reward circuits in our brain.
Scarcity and social proof also influence us. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) isn’t just about missing a concert but also when we bypass a great deal. Fundamental human instincts—for better or worse—ensure that Black Friday and Cyber Monday is also capable of tapping into the all-too-human instincts of B2B buyers.
Should B2B Companies Sell on Black Friday & Cyber Monday?
Knowing what’s at stake and how customers think about Black Friday is not enough—B2B companies still need to judge their company’s position in the market during the sales holiday and assess recent B2B customer behaviour where many long for a shopping experience that more closely resembles B2C.
The B2B companies that benefit from this behavioural change are those conducting business with B2C consumer goods and retail products. Some B2B examples include selling to painters, electricians, office supply buyers, retailers, restaurants, hotels, among others. If a B2B merchant’s customers have a Black Friday marketing campaign running, then they can also run campaigns.
Still, some B2B areas are better than others for Black Friday sales, and B2B companies need to think about this before investing their resources into a marketing campaign. Let’s go through a few examples of the companies that fit and the ones that don’t.
Bad Fit for Black Friday B2B
Products that solve a specific need at a particular time are a bad fit for Black Friday. Spare machine parts fit into this category—nobody is looking for replacement parts for fully operating machines on Black Friday.
Then, there are more complex B2B solutions, which require a string of individuals across a company to give a thumbs up or thumbs down. According to Gartner, it takes 6-10 decision-makers to approve a complex B2B solution. With such a long purchasing journey, it is guaranteed that 10 B2C leaders won’t be sitting in front of the same monitor on Black Friday, refreshing B2B products pages.
Lastly, non-scalable B2B services don’t translate well to the biggest sales holiday of the year as their finite expertise will quickly run out.
Great Fit for Black Friday B2B
The best bet for running a Black Friday marketing campaign is if B2B companies sell to companies in a handful of industries: the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), fashion, utilities, office equipment, and consumable goods. In short, B2C companies offering easy-to-buy products are a great fit for Black Friday.
Digital commerce can assist companies further by using B2B behaviour to sell repeat products quickly on Black Friday. In fact, only 15% of B2B users want to speak to a sales rep on repeat purchases, according to McKinsey. That means focusing deals on low-cost B2B items can lead to more sales this holiday season.
Three Tips For A Black Friday B2B Marketing Campaign
If you decide to take part in Black Friday, you can ensure your success by following these three tips:
1) Unify campaigning across physical (sales reps, workshops) and digital channels
Consider the relevant channels for running a Black Friday marketing campaign. First, where are potential customers located? Will it take place both in-store and online, or only online? This will mean providing various assets that differ based on the channel and ensuring that they still offer a unified message.
2) Start small, learn—make it bigger next year
Make sure to do a proper retrospective and document it in advance—it saves time and decreases stress for the following year. Secondly, companies can choose the scope of their campaign, and it is especially relevant if they are trying Black Friday out for the first time.
Above all else, all businesses involved in Black Friday can reduce stress by starting high-level Black Friday Preparation in July or August. Here are a few things to consider based on the previous year:
- When is the best time to launch the marketing campaign?
- What promotional messages worked the best?
- What products were driving customer interest and sales?
Companies that succeed year after year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday take the time to perform a post-mortem. Take the weeks following Black Friday—while the event is still fresh—to assess overall performance, shortcomings, and victories to continue improving in the future.
3) Put together a solid plan
In addition to learning from past Black Friday experiences, companies can also access best practices gathered from other industries. There are a lot of resources out there for this. At Vaimo, we help global brands succeed on Black Friday and during peak season sales. One of our most popular resources is our Black Friday Preparation Checklist.
Related Reading: Black Friday Preparation: How to Build A BFCM Command Center
Using Black Friday Limited-time Offers and Promotions
B2B companies can also tap into Black Friday psychology. Limited time offers—both quantity and time-based—create a sense of urgency. For instance, they can only offer clients the chance to purchase an amount over 50 to receive a discounted price. Merchants can pour more gasoline on the fire by adding a ticker to increase the feeling of FOMO.
Hourly promos also increase the sense of urgency and excitement around products. Again, B2B and B2C are merging. So why not take advantage of the Black Friday mindset by running a blitz promo that offers discounted products for a limited time?
Common Black Friday Mistakes
It can be challenging to hit the mark on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. After all, it includes tons of moving parts. Here are a few key mistakes to avoid based on Vaimo’s time-tested approach to Black Friday.
Overselling stock requires noting historical sales records from the past and associating them with current popularity and market changes. First, form a contingency plan if stocks run out.
On our Black Friday checklist, we have included a few key items to prevent this issue from happening. Here are a few things to consider and check off in advance:
- Identify stock movement on site: 1) How long does an item stay in a basket? 2) How quickly does stock come off the system?
- Audit stock levels for 100% confidence—assess as close to Black Friday as possible to avoid disappointing customers.
- Decide whether to adjust special prices on the day.
- Consider the expected percentage of buffer stock.
- Specify whether to adjust stock quantities on the day. Note: Avoid clearing the cache to ensure stability on site.
After following this advice, businesses will be able to avoid overselling items and disappointing their clients.
Black Friday B2B Campaigns Should Inspire Action
Black Friday deals should outshine quarterly or monthly campaign offers. For B2B, Black Friday can do more than offer low prices. For example, merchants can offer an extended warranty on a product, or customers can even buy one service to get a discount on another. There is room for creativity to attract customers to holiday deals, but the deals need to inspire customers to make a purchase.
Related Reading: Holiday Ecommerce—How to Prepare for 2021
- If a company’s clients are selling on Black Friday, that means B2B can also profit.
- Black Friday psychology affects B2B shoppers too.
- Companies should start Black Friday planning in July or August.
- A Black Friday marketing campaign should unify messaging across relevant channels and start small.
- A Black Friday post-mortem is essential for continued learning and success.
- B2B companies can use limited-time offers and hourly promos to create urgency.
- Common pitfalls on Black Friday are overselling and offering uninteresting deals.
HOW VAIMO CAN HELP
Vaimo has produced a comprehensive checklist for Black Friday preparation in 2021. We have over a decade of experience supporting our clients over Black Friday. If you have any questions about how to create an unforgettable Black Friday, please reach out to our team.