$24k In A Day, $194k On A Weekend. How To Successfully Launch And Scale During Promotional Periods Without Getting Beaten By Your Competitors!
Holiday sales, promotions, new product launches, end of season blowouts and black week. All things that if done correctly will net you a handsome bit of cash! So how do so many people get it wrong?
You might be a business owner reading this and have had these very thoughts. You’ve felt disappointed with your sales, you’ve been unable to essentially ‘give away’ stock and yet you see other people crushing it during this time? This leads you to think about what they are doing differently… right?
Well, look no further. We are going to break down each element step by step, with examples and actionable advice that will lead you to that ‘pot of gold’ you seek.
With that being said, let’s get stuck in!
The first and most obvious place to start is mapping out all of the promotions that you plan on taking part in throughout the year. This could be dependent on a few things. Are you a fashion brand and have end of season blowouts? Do you have your own promotions outside of the ‘norm’? Or, are you taking part in all the conventional ones? Either way, it’s important to start out the year with this in mind and even more importantly mark them down on your calendar. This is important for other reasons (outside the obvious) that will soon become clear.
The next step is to actually understand what the intended outcome of the promotion is. Are you trying to make a lot of money? Are you trying to acquire a number of customers? Are you trying to sell off old stock? Or launch a new product? This is important because the way in which you go about these are all slightly different.
For example, if you are wanting to sell off old stock, it might be because you need warehouse space for the new product lines, so it’s a case of getting rid of what you no longer want and making some quick cash. This is common in the fashion industry and that’s why they have end of season sales.
The next step would be to decide which avenue you want to use to sell the stock. For example, are your current customers going to want these products? After all, they have already purchased from you before so there is a relationship there. On the other hand, there is a big opportunity to tempt in a new batch of customers with heavily discounted stock, doing so would get them into your brands ‘sphere of influence’ which is never a bad thing.
The path commonly traveled and one we would recommend in this case is a combination of both new and old customers, especially because you can increase your margin by leveraging current email and messenger bot lists and increase acquisition with the advertising budget.
My last recommendation on this strategy is simply a word of warning when it comes to discounts, be careful not to devalue your brand, the last thing you’d want people to think is that when the product is full price they are getting ripped off.
Commonly, either just before or just after an end of season sale there is a launch of a new product line, and this, like other promotions, is where the tactics and strategies come into play to give you the biggest ‘bang for your buck’.
In the next part of the case study I’m going to be breaking down ACTIONABLE steps including samples and some examples of what we’ve been able to achieve.
I’m going to tailor this case study to the biggest elephant in the room in terms of promotions, the Black Friday Weekend. In doing so, I am going to break down my thought process and the challenges we might face along the way, finishing with how we would overcome them.
So the first step we’ve taken (as above) is marking the promotional weekend in our calendar. For this example, I am going to say we are 6 months away from our target which allows us enough time to follow the steps below.
The next step would be to map out smaller promotional opportunities prior to the Black Friday weekend. Why? Because we are going to use these as an opportunity to test offers. More on this later.
A prime candidate for testing your Black Friday offers on, prior to the weekend, is Labor Day (I’m going to assume you are targeting the USA market).
With that sorted, our third step would be thinking about the desired outcome of the promotion. You might currently be staring at the screen saying “My desired outcome is to make loads of money” and I’d agree. However, at this point I can almost guarantee we are thinking about different things. Chances are you are talking about profit, not ‘money’, which in my opinion is sales. You see I think promotions are an incredible opportunity to not only make a lot of money profitably but MAINLY to acquire A LOT of customers quickly.
In my opinion, promotions should be about getting people into your ‘sphere of influence’ and in doing so will enable you to continuously try and sell to them, forever. I don’t want to go off on a tangent in this case study but having a firm grasp on your customer’s lifetime value (LTV) will enable you to build your empire.
Promotions seem simple, but that’s why so many get it wrong. We need to test and trial things out. Which is why our next step is to brainstorm. What offers do we want to run? Are they discounts? Bundles? Bundles and discounts? Are we adding additional value but keeping the price the same? This is serious stuff, it is genuinely ‘make or break’.
Here are some examples of some different offers we’ve found.
How do you know which will work for your brand? Truth is, you don’t. That’s why we’ve planned ahead and started early. We’ve given ourselves enough time to test it. All the decisions need to be made 4 weeks (minimum!) before the intended promotion.
Let’s look at some business fundamentals. Specifically, Supply Vs Demand. This may seem basic, but it is important to mention and understand because ultimately this is the big driving force behind being successful.
When supply is plenty and demand is low, what happens? Prices drop and competition is simply fighting at the ‘bottom of the barrel’ to get customers.
Therefore, when supply is short and demand is high, what happens? Prices rise and competition are fierce as people who can supply the demand, are able to cash in, big time!
Why is this important? I’m not sure if you’ve checked out costs on Facebook recently but CPM’s are climbing year after year. What do you think happens when something as big as Black Friday comes around? Prices go through the roof and it can get incredibly hard to actually see ANY results from your efforts if you are a ‘last-minute Larry’.
So why am I telling you this? Do I have some top secret tactic that is going to allow you to get delivery? No. Well, actually yes. It’s called planning ahead which isn’t nearly as exciting, or is it? This brings us to step four.
Understanding what’s happening on Facebook, specifically CPM’s and the supply vs demand shift during promotional periods is going to help you win. How? Because we are going to collect all the customers interested in your products prior to the price spikes. More on this later.
Let me set the stage for where we are at right now:
● We’ve marked our calendars with the promotion dates
● We’ve set reminders 4 weeks in advance of these dates (minimum)
● We’ve brainstormed offer ideas and built the creative around them
● We’ve got labor day coming up and we are using it for testing our Black Friday weekend offers
What next? We build a custom landing page/sales funnel. Step five.
(A quick caveat; this isn’t absolutely necessary for a smaller promotion however I would ALWAYS do this if possible.)
There are a few key advantages to running your offers through a separate landing page/funnel rather than your standard store:
● Sales funnels tend to have a much higher conversion rate than a typical product page
● It is much easier to alter these especially if you are using drag and drop funnel builders like Clickfunnels, Lead Pages or Unbounce
● You can easily create product-specific upsells to increase the average order value
● You can easily track these customers using a separate pixel
Chances are this last point has left you a bit puzzled. Good, because this is the stuff that people don’t think about.
The Facebook Pixel simply gathers data. The issue with this is that it gathers ALL data. You might be thinking that’s a good thing, and you’re half right. In normal circumstances it most definitely is but when it comes to promotions there is an issue. With any promotion, you will be attracting your ‘raving fans’ however, and more importantly, you WILL attract a lot of ‘Bargain Hunters’.
So why does that matter? Well, for the average business owner it might not make a huge difference, but if you want to build an empire then it’s important to build on strong foundations. And strong foundations mean segmenting your audience into buckets. The more granular the better.
The issue we are facing here is blindly obvious, only once you’ve noticed it. Let me give you a very simple example:
Let’s say you’ve got 1000 customers who have bought $1000 worth of product (Full price). Then let’s say you’ve run a promotion and you’ve got 10,000 customers who’ve bought $100 worth of discounted products. The revenue is identical but the effect after the promotion can be pretty damn dramatic.
Have you figured out the issue yet?
You see, now your pixel has 10x as many people who’ve bought the product at a cheap price, Facebook is going to use that data when you start advertising again. The only issue is that your products are now full price ($1000) and yet the majority of your data is based on people who want to spend $100. The chances are you are going to have a pretty rough time profitably acquiring customers in the immediate future because you’ve given Facebook lots of apples, and you want oranges, makes sense?
Hopefully you can see why you might (and when I say might I really mean should!) want to run a separate landing page and pixel for your promotions.
It’s almost game time and with our test offers ready and waiting for the Labor Day, it’s now time to start building the hype around the promotion. This is step six.
The simplest, cheapest and most obvious route to achieve this is via your email and messenger bot subscriber lists. You can most definitely run ads to a pre-sell page however in the example I am about to give, we don’t (time crunch!). However we did do this on the run-up to the Black Friday weekend so I am going to touch on that strategy in more depth later.
The idea around this early push is to gauge interest and fill those segmented ‘buckets’ of people.
It is launch day. Ads are ready, the budget is allocated, landing pages and offers have been built, it is time to open up the floodgates. If you’ve done all this you should expect to see a torrent not a trickle of customers. It’s important to remember that in the example I’m laying out, the intended purpose is to figure out offers that convert for the brand based on no previous data.
If your research of competitor brand offers has been done properly I would guarantee you would have made some great money, but most importantly BOUGHT DATA and have some incredible insights to move forward with.
We would continue to leverage the above strategy year-round for any promotional opportunity, big or small to ensure we are current when it comes to offers the market wants.
So where are we now? Offers and the landing page have been tested and we have market feedback.
It’s time to analyze this data, pivot the strategy where necessary and prepare for ‘promotion to the big leagues’.
Preparing for the big day(s)!
The ability to correctly analyze data isn’t something that is specific to this strategy. It’s a fundamental requirement to be good at advertising. This is no place for emotions, just hardcore logic. That’s why on the run up to any promotion the first step would be analysing the data from the last. What worked? What didn’t? What improvements could be made?
For example, we have always found either single images or GIF style creative to perform best during a promotional campaign, and don’t ‘beat around the bush’ with your messaging, get straight to the point. We’ve found to be true because of the pre-framing and anticipation, the creative just needed to give them an answer and it’s simply a yes or no from the customer.
Also, as I mentioned before, we love to use sales funnels/promotional specific landing pages and separate the pixel whenever possible.
So what differs from the Labor Day promotion I’ve just spoken about, compared to a major event like the Black Friday weekend? Simply put, inventory and competition. As seasoned business owners, we are well aware of the massive impact these holidays can have on our business and we plan ahead, right? However this isn’t the case for everyone, most in fact, and this is where a major issue lies.
The problem is that ‘Mr. Nobody’ with a pop-up Shopify store and ‘Mrs. Nobody’ with a decent retail business also knows the weekend is a big opportunity for a cash grab, multiply that by 3.526 billion (based on figures from National Statistics..not, but you get the idea) and you get what happens over the weekend. The issue then becomes not enough inventory, which not only skyrockets costs but can also make the delivery next to impossible. So to combat this we have to plan ahead in a few ways, so let’s dive into how we can avoid the impacts of ‘Mr & Mrs Nobodies’ during promotional periods.
If you were to read this entire case study to only get this next point, it would be worth it. DRIVE TRAFFIC EARLY. The reason we want to do this is so that we can fill our remarketing audience buckets long before the CPM’s start to take a beating. I’m talking 4 weeks in advance, if not more.
At this point a few things will start happening, so let me break them down for you individually.
Firstly, we want to build out a pre-sell funnel. This is a stupidly simple opt-in funnel that we send traffic to which enables us to build our email and messenger subscribers.
Again, this isn’t rocket science, we are driving people to a page that says something like “Sign up and get VIP access to our exclusive discounts before everyone else”. They then fill out name, phone number and email address and they are now not only in your sphere of influence but you now won’t need to compete for their attention on the Facebook platform as you have their email/messenger.
This strategy can be used for any promotion and is incredibly effective. This example below is for a high ticket product set ranging from $300-600.
So you’ve now increased spend with no immediate ROI insight, but I’ve got some more bad news, at around the 2-week mark before Black Friday people tend to stop buying completely (not true for other smaller holidays). All your campaigns will start to fall off a cliff for no reason but, as you of course know, that’s not the case. People aren’t stupid, so unless there is an immediate need they are now playing the ‘waiting game’. In 2 weeks time, chances are they are going to be able to buy that product from you at a heavily discounted price, YIPPIE! (for them), fingers crossed (for you).
Up to this point, our budget allocation has remained at around 70% new customer acquisition and 30% remarketing although it’s likely that we have generally been spending more.
Around 7-10 days, things start to change, this is when you want to start launching your early-bird promotions for the people who have opted-in to the pre-sell and then a few hours later we also start driving traffic to the custom landing page too. It will look something like this;
Step 1: Email/SMS/Messenger blast to the subscribers
Step 2: Remarketing to the people that went to the pre-sell landing page
Step 3: Start promoting to the main remarketing lists
Step 4: Start driving new cold traffic
Why? We are now concentrating on making our ‘Black Friday’ profit early, and it’s definitely not uncommon with the right strategy in place to make more on the week running up to the Black Friday than it is on the actual weekend itself.
With the weekend now in sight we want to start re-allocating our budget to predominantly remarketing. Within 5 days we would be spending 70% on remarketing and 30% on new customer acquisition and increasing the remarketing allocation each day until it’s around 90% of total spend.
When it comes to black friday we have seen sitewide sales perform the best overall, yes you can definitely run custom landers for bundles but what we usually do is only have those bundles running up until the big sale so that people MUST BUY them.
That’s pretty much it, not to undersell it as it does take a lot of work to get this right but having a strategy laid out like the one above will definitely improve your chances of cashing in big time!
The last thing I want to touch on is the day itself, don’t be afraid to be crazy aggressive with scaling. Increase your campaign budgets throughout the day if they are performing great. Doing 100%-1000% bumps and just really capitalizing on the opportunity at hand.
To round off this case study nicely you probably want to see some results of the above in action, and I don’t blame you so here are a couple with a bit of context.
This first example is a high ticket brand who only started working with us 1 month prior to BF/CM so we had no time to test the offer like I mentioned in the above case study, and we still did very well if you ask me, or the client for that matter!
You might now be wondering what happened to the company who we ran the Labor Day promotion for? Well, wonder no further…
(If you want to take your reporting and analytics to the next level then we recommend glew.io to all our partners which is the dashboard you see above.)
All in all, I hope you learned a lot from this case study/story combination, don’t be under any illusions, it’s a lot of work but 100% worth it.
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