Why do we get so excited about Black Friday? Black Friday sounds more like a contractible malady than a good time. Nevertheless, we push ourselves back from the dinner table each Thanksgiving with excitement and wonder at the late night bargains to be had.
What is it about Black Friday that causes this Pavlovian response and what can nonprofit organizations learn from the aura that Black Friday creates?
Black Friday is a powerful brand.
The term is an umbrella brand for all retailers. Black Friday has come to signify bargains, late night shopping, chaos, long lines, shameless capitalism, and did I mention bargains?
The takeaway for nonprofits: When building your organization’s brand be clear about its characteristics. There should be a direct correlation between your Mission and Vision statements in the creation of your brand. Choose your words carefully for the tagline, logo, marketing messages, positioning statements, etc. These help create and support your brand. Be as clear and concise as possible when crafting these statements.
Black Friday creates excitement and good stories.
As a shopper you know what you are getting on Black Friday from long lines to good deals and everything in between. Whatever your personal expectations are, every Black Friday shopper comes home with a story about ‘the greatest deal ever’ or ‘the one that got away’. If you partake in Black Friday shopping you WILL come out of the experience with a good story. Promise of the story is part of the reason that shoppers return to the chaos year after year.
The takeaway for nonprofits: Provide the raw material to your donors, volunteers, and staff to create their own story about their involvement in your organization. Provide your supporters with actual client experiences and get them excited about your growth and sustainability as an organization. Give them a forum (newsletter, luncheon or event, Facebook) to share their experiences with others. This will create a personal investment in your organization and turn your supporters into ambassadors for your cause.
Black Friday produces a positive ROI.
Shoppers know that they will get their best deal if they stay up late and battle the crowds. No pain, no gain. Shoppers are willing to suffer a bit for an extra 10% off so they feel like they have gotten the best possible price and spent their money wisely.
The takeaway for nonprofits: Producing a positive ROI is critical for the health of your organization. But you don’t have to make your donors suffer. The most effective way to create a positive ROI is through diligent stewardship. There are many ways to be grateful and appreciative to your donors and volunteers without being annoying (see my post ‘How to Say Thank You in Chinese’ 11/15/11). The reason that 6 out of 10 donors do not give in the second year is that those donors are not appropriately stewarded. It is ten times harder to regain a lapsed donor or volunteer than to correctly steward an existing one.
Black Friday-one phrase fits all.
Every retailer uses this same phrase to mean bargains. The only difference is the ‘at Walmart’ or ‘at Target’ or ‘at Macy’s’.
Takeaway for nonprofits: Consider partnering with organizations within your sector to create a larger presence. Create an event or conference with an umbrella title for the benefit of all of the partners. The effect is two-fold. Donors will witness the strength of the sector and the variety of its programs while organizations can create program partnerships and cross pollenate their base of supporters. Ultimately, productive partnerships can lead to more efficient organizational structures.
Black Friday is always the day after Thanksgiving.
It is already on the calendar for next year. Black Friday is always the same day although getting earlier and earlier (will shoppers really embrace Grey Thursday? It remains to be seen).
Takeaway for nonprofits: There is merit to having consistency in your event planning. Having an event on the same day every year creates an ‘appointment event’. It is already blocked off on the calendar and has a higher likelihood of attendance.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shopping!!
(Little known Black Friday fact: The term was coined in this country by the Philadelphia Police Department referring to the gridlock traffic in Center City Philadelphia the day after Thanksgiving).