The Super-Powerful Secret That Drives Black Friday Sales Success and How You Can Replicate it Year-Round

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Last night I went to Best Buy at 1:00am to try to get a new laptop and maybe grab one of their Door Busterin TV deals. When I saw the line to pay, I bounced and went home. Why would I shlepp out to a store at one in the morning, and than just leave empty handed…by choice?! Simply put, I was missing the driving motivators that power the Black Friday Rush. Obviously, there were hundreds of other people who were driven by those needs, as shown by their commitment to stand in those lines. In fact, some of them probably waited for half a day waiting to grab a deal. Where did Best Buy go wrong? I am in the market for a laptop. I left the house and went to the store at 1am, spent time messing around with different laptops, chatted up sales reps, yet some how, they failed to close the deal…

Joe Apfelbaum from Ajax Union sent out an email today where we wondered by people spend so much time on Black Friday trying to save a few dollars, when they could spend that time working a little harder and earn more than enough money to make up the difference. He even postulated that if we spent more time creating and less time surviving, the world would be a better place. Logically, he is absolutely right, but behavior is influence by emotion, not logic.

To Understand what powers holiday shopping, we need to think about why we give gifts, who the recipient is and what reaction we are hoping for when we give.

For starters, the act of giving in and of itself feels good. We connect with others, we invest in them, and in fact deep love is developed by giving. So, when we give a gift, it as about us and our emotional needs more than it is about the person on the receiving end. When shopping for a gift for a loved one, or for anyone, we play a fantasy out in our minds about how the person will react to the gift, how good it will feel. This fantasy in and of itself is extremely powerful. However, you can buy gifts at any time, so what drives black friday sales specifically (or for that matter cyber monday?)

I know what you are thinking. It’s the great deals of course. We all know that deals are a powerful sales tool (although as a business I strongly discourage offering sales and deals without a good reason for it… otherwise it will compromise your price integrity.) But, why do deals work so well? I mean Groupon, and Woot, and others sites capitalized on this for quite a while…

What drives deals is scarcity, and the fear of missing out. Making money is nice, but nothing feels better than getting the better end of a deal.

Stores have convinced us that because this day is when they go into the black from the red, they can afford to move inventory for dirt cheap. The fear of missing out on a great opportunity triggers one of the most powerful emotional drivers in the world… “The Desire to Have What We Can’t Have.” the reason this is so powerful is it changes our frame of mind from thinking about whether we want or need something to desperately making sure we don’t miss out. It moves us past the price and the utility, and focuses us on one mission. Being One Of The Cool Kids, Who Got What No One Else Has The line at the store and the social proof just drives you more and more to want what you can’t have. Have you ever gotten auction fever where you were involved in an auction, and way overpaid, went above your budget, and regretted it afterwards? That’s what auctions do… they pit your ego against other egos and force you to ACT NOW, emotionally, without giving you time to stop and think logically. The fact that someone else wants it, makes you want it even more.

How many of you have friends who got a great deal last night, and rubbed it in your face to which you invariably replied one of two things. Either, you are crazy to wait in line, what a waste of time… or Did you really need that TV, was it such a good deal? it is last years model… To which they will likely reply well, I could just sell it on craigslist or ebay and make money on it, so it was totally worth it.

What’s going on in the above power exchange is two egos battling to be the cool kid. The one guy who has what no one else has. The person who got the item needs to defend his purchase, which likely was driven by the emotional need to not miss out. The person who missed out, needs to defend his position, and not feel like the nerd who missed out, so he talks about the waste of time, and how crazy it is to wait in line for something you don’t need, that is an older model, etc…

Basically, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the Perfect Storm of Emotional Drivers, Wrapped all in up in a bow. IF you can replicate these circumstances, you can cash in all year long.

You have the desire not to miss out, the desire to have what you can’t have. The desire to have the new cool thing that no one else has, and the perfect fantasy of the look on the face of your kid, or wife, or friend when you give them the gift to keep you occupied while waiting in that long line. All wrapped up in the perfect logical defense for your purchase, a door busting deal you cant get any other time. They of course take the risk out of  the purchase with a strong gift return policy…so, all my objections are removed.

IF you can replicate scarcity, social proof, and give a strong logical defense to the purchase, you can sell like crazy year round…

So, why did Best Buy miss out on my wallet? Because I was shopping for myself. I am self-aware of these emotions, and Because the laptop I wanted wasn’t a good enough deal to justify waiting in line in middle of the night. I didn’t need the door busting TV, and my Wife appreciates gifts from the heart, not the wallet… So, the desire not to miss out got me to shlepp out to the store… but too many ingredients were missing to motivate me to wait in the checkout line.

Happy Hunting for Gifts and Deals, and remember… there are holidays you can market around all year round… you just need to add the crucial elements to tie it nicely together…


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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

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