5 Thanksgiving marketing strategies

Many bemoan the loss of tradition and family time with door-buster sales and holiday marketing gimmicks, but Black Friday is here to stay.

It’s slicing more and more into Thanksgiving Day with each year.

Brand managers will have to choose a strategy carefully. Do you want to stand with stores that send the message, “We care about our employees and time with family”? Or will they succumb to the call of the cash register and shut down for just a few hours like Radio Shack?

Here are five marketing strategies for turkey-fueled sales, including the days following:

1. Black Friday: “Get out of the way, world—that HDTV is yours”

Not only do marketers have to balance excitement versus downright loathing for Black Friday sales, they also must be heard above the noise. According to Accenture, excitement for Black Friday sales is at an all-time high, and Adobe estimates consumers will spend more than $ 1.35 billion on sales.

Some brands have targeted influential social media users to spread the message and drum up sales. Kohl’s and Toys R Us used mommy bloggers to host special Twitter chats:

2. Black Friday online: “Save the trampling for concerts—get your video games from the couch”

Online holiday marketing strategies—along with opportunities and challenges—are similar to in-store Black Friday sales. However, brand managers might have a slightly easier time persuading consumers to avoid the hysteria and stay at home to shop:

Retail chains such as Walmart have extended online holiday sales to encompass the entire week of Thanksgiving, boosting their chances for sales. Amazon is trying a different approach by donating to a charity of your choice with each sale:

3. Small Business Saturday: “I shopped local before it was cool”

American Express has successfully persuaded consumers to shop locally the day after Black Friday with its #SmallBusinessSaturday initiative: Inc reports an estimated 103 million Americans patronized a local business during the campaign in 2013. The amount spent during the day grew from $ 5.5 million in 2012 to $ 5.7 million in 2013.

Small Business Saturday speaks to the savvy consumer looking to avoid large retail chains, so brand managers should pay attention to engagement opportunities:

4. Cyber Monday: “Because you can never have enough tech toys”

Perhaps people feel better about dropping loads of cash on cheap holiday goods once the holiday has passed, because Cyber Monday has become the biggest online shopping day in history. An Adobe study reported consumers spent $ 2.29 billion in 2013.

The challenge for brand managers promoting Cyber Monday is battling the fatigue from the weekend before, especially given that Thanksgiving sales have been starting earlier and earlier. Marketers will have to employ email and social media strategies that not only remind consumers about online sales, but also offer them added value.

5. Giving Tuesday: “It’s better to give than to receive”

The #GivingTuesday initiative was created in 2012 by the United Nations Foundation and New York community center 92Y as a way to “start the giving season.”

The results are staggering, especially considering how new it is: Donations reached $ 10 million in 2012 and $ 19 million in 2013. The effort’s Canadian campaign also saw marked success:

Does all the shopping for Black Friday bargains fatigue consumers so they don’t want to donate when Tuesday rolls around? Woodrow Rosenbaum of GivingTuesday Canada says it doesn’t:

The secret to fighting fatigue, Rosebaum says, is telling stories that your audience can embrace. The more creative a charity’s stories, the more they get shared—and the more people will be inspired to donate.

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