A Lesson from Amazon on Holiday-Creating

July 24, 2015

Tags-orangeWhile many seemed dissatisfied by Amazon Prime Day, what it really looks like is that these empty-cart-ers didn’t get to the site quickly enough. Every year on Black Friday, there are lines almost half a mile long outside of stores like Best Buy at the wee hours of the morning. People who strolled into the store at 3:00 PM later that day probably didn’t find much. The same goes for online sales. We tend to assume that online stores have an unlimited stock of items. But like any other retailer, that’s not the case, and Amazon ran out of the good stuff fast. “Prime Day peak order rates have already surpassed 2014 Black Friday. Prime members have bought tens of thousands of Fire TV Sticks, 35,000 Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray sets, 28,000 Rubbermaid sets, and 4,000 Echos in 15 minutes. The Kate Spade purse was gone in less than a minute,” an Amazon spokesperson told Adweek. So while some customers didn’t get what they wanted, sounds like many people did, including Amazon.

Amazon knew what most other retailers did tooholidays mean promotions which means higher volume of sales. But instead of waiting for the next big holiday, they made their own out of their birthday. This way, all of the attention was on them. No other company had a reason to celebrate Prime Day and consequently, there was no battle for consumer attention.

For those unfamiliar with Amazon Prime, it is a type of Amazon membership in which members pay a $ 99 annual fee to receive free 3-day shipping on any prime-eligible products. This meant that on top of product revenue from July 15th, Amazon gained an additional $ 99 from each new member acquired from the promotion, both before and after the big day. According to Christian Camerota of  Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, this $ 99 membership turned out to be about $ 4 billion in revenue for Amazon before Prime Day.

Amazon isn’t the only company who has taken to this marketing and sales tactic of made-up holidays. In 2009, Alibaba, celebrated Singles Day (11/11/11), generating over $ 9 billion in revenue within the 24-hour sale. Similarly, Angie Dudley of bakerella.com founded National Cake Pop Day, boosting sales of her delicious confections. Dudley even got Martha Stewart’s attention with this day, and was invited to be on her show. A company-made-holiday family favorite is National Pancake Day by IHOP, when customers get a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. Of course customers generally order a few things extra. So what will you offer your customers, and when?

Inc. Features editor, Diana Ransom, says to choose a day that would make the most sense for your brand. For example, celebrate Espresso Day on the date of espresso’s debut in 1906 if you’re a coffee distributor. After that, the most important part is to let the world know that it’s happening. Start by spreading the word to those most local to you. Issue a press release to regional news sources and bloggers. With the right social media strategies and effective advertisements, this small wave can generate a whirlpool of excitement for your holiday. Using creative or unique hashtags like #PrimeDay can help you keep track of any news related to the day and measure your social media efforts. There are plenty of other methods to build hype as well such as creating a countdown clock on your website’s homepage or producing short promotional videos.

To legitimize your company-made holiday, you can submit your event to Chase’s Calendar of Events or National Day Calendar. Once you’ve successfully celebrated your holiday for the first time, remember to continue your efforts in the coming years. This way your holiday will create annual buzz in no time!

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