Around this time every year, B2C companies start prepping for the most important sales holiday—Black Friday. But can B2B companies also participate in the epic sales event?


Where Black Friday and B2B Meet

Ecommerce impacts B2B buyer behavior as much as their B2C counterparts, as they shift toward digital self-service. According to McKinsey, two thirds of B2B buyers prefer digital or remote in-person interactions.

Through the use of online marketplaces, a greater focus on boosting fulfillment, and an emphasis on a personalized customer experience, the B2B buyer experience isn’t much different from the B2C customer journey.

These changes make Black Friday—traditionally an event for B2C—possible for B2B as well. Read on for a dive into Black Friday psychology, B2B’s fit in the Black Friday landscape, and some Black Friday best practices and common mistakes.

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 are also capable of tapping into the all-too-human instincts of B2B buyers.

Should B2B Companies Sell on Black Friday and 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 behavior where many long for a shopping experience that more closely resembles B2C.

The B2B companies that benefit from this behavioral 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.

Not-A-Great 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 B2B 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.

A 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: 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.

Ecommerce can assist companies further by using B2B behavior 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 participate in Black Friday 2022, 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, and 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. 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 Playbook.

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 offer clients the chance to receive a discounted price if their shopping basket exceeds a certain amount. Merchants can pour more gasoline on the fire by adding a ticker to increase the feeling of FOMO.

Hourly promos also boost 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?

Related reading: 15 Simple Black Friday Ideas to Boost ROI

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.

1 – Overselling Stock

Avoiding 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.

In our Black Friday playbook, 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: How long does an item stay in a basket? 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.

By following this advice, businesses will be able to avoid overselling items and disappointing their clients.

2 – 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.

Key Takeaways

  • If a company’s clients are selling on Black Friday, that means B2B businesses can also profit.
  • Black Friday psychology affects B2B shoppers too.
  • Companies should start Black Friday planning as early as possible.
  • 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 You

Download our Ecommerce Playbook for Black Friday 2022 below. With over 14 years of supporting our clients on Black Friday, we know a thing or two about how to make the sales season count.

Ready to make this year your most profitable yet? Talk to us today about putting a rock-solid strategy in place.

How To Win Big on Black Friday: The Ecommerce Playbook