Black Friday – the busiest shopping day of the entire year and the official start of the holiday gift-buying season. Eager shoppers line up in droves outside their favorite retailers hours before they open, money in hand, weather be damned, and turkey still digesting. The objective: get deep discounts on the year’s must-have merchandise. Today’s meaning of “Black Friday” came about in the 1980’s because, as people started their holiday shopping, it was often the day of the year when retailers’ profit margins shifted from “in the red” to “in the black.”

As a retailer, you’d be crazy to close your doors on Black Friday, right? Not necessarily.

Though certainly profitable for merchants and a winning day of savings for many consumers, Black Friday also faces its share of criticism. It’s perhaps best known for inciting mass hysteria, selfishness, and unruly behavior just one day after gathering with friends and family to give thanks for the many things we already have.

A Bold Brand Choice
It was for these reasons that Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) made a decision some might consider insane. In 2015, REI decided to close every one of its stores on Black Friday and give each of its then 12,000-plus employees a paid day off. They encouraged employees and customers to skip the Black Friday frenzy, gather their loved ones, and opt instead to spend their day enjoying the great outdoors. And it’s a tradition they’ve continued every year since.

Why would REI make a decision that could potentially cost them thousands of dollars in revenue? It came down to one thing – the values at the core of their brand identity.

What’s in a Brand?
Your brand identity consists of both tangible and intangible aspects, all of which come together to distinguish the products and services you sell from those of your competitors. It includes everything from your logo design, price point, and marketing channels to promises you make to the consumer and the culture and feelings you wish to inspire inside and outside the walls of your organization. Ideally, everything you do should mesh with the brand you’ve established.

For REI, shutting its doors on Black Friday was a daring, attention-grabbing way to reiterate the intangible ideals their company works to impose day-in and day-out.

REI is not only a leading retailer of outdoor equipment, they sell an entire outdoor experience. Their overall motivation as a company is to inspire a love of the great outdoors while also providing the equipment, advice, and opportunities people need to connect to nature and start adventuring. Jerry Stritzke, REI’s CEO at the time, explained that closing on Black Friday was a way to get back to the core of REI’s brand values: “…It was about reclaiming a day that was distorting a time to give thanks for what we have, and re-grounding in what we value most in life as an outdoor community.”

Big or Small, Brand Matters
Sure, national retailers like REI have a little more room to experiment and make bold moves with the actions they take to tell their story. They can afford to sacrifice sales for the sake of making a larger point. They’ve got the resources to offer an extra paid day off to their employees. Just because you operate on a smaller scale, however, doesn’t mean you can’t represent your brand in a big way.

In everything you do, remember where your company came from, where it’s going, and who you want to come along for the ride. This information will guide your branding efforts. Whether your business is large or small, there are no limits to the ways you can show your customers what you’re all about. With a bit of ingenuity and thoughtfulness, your brand’s story, like REI’s, can be a tale told for many years to come.

The quarantine paradox for the small business owner: You now have all the time in the world and can't afford to waste a single minute sitting around. As entrepreneurial voyagers, deep down we're wired to understand nothing is certain – even though from time to time we fool ourselves into believing otherwise. Then a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic hits, and the realities of our risk-taking shake us hard.

An instantaneous, complete stop. All around you, competitors begin closing down. Fast moving economic opportunities freeze. A panicked workforce looks to leadership for answers, and the top doesn't necessarily have a solution. Customers halt demand, retreating to conserve and protect themselves.

So now what? Simply put, this is the point where you decide. The moment when you weigh the sweat equity of yesterday against the odds of existing tomorrow. Forget how you'll do it, the shift in strategy, or the stress you'll endure. First, you must choose – succumb or survive?

If you opted to call it a day, no need to keep reading. Honestly, that's not always the worse-case scenario. However, if you're in this to push your brand through the crunch, let's get to work on a communication's foundation and make it stronger as a result.

Brand Reassessment
In a life or death situation, the main objective is to find ways to continue forward. The same goes for keeping a brand together during tough times. To do this, you need to run a baseline check of your brand position. You need to reassess its health. How does your customer loyalty look heading into this challenge? How strong is your identity right now? Are your offerings a luxury or a necessity? Do you have a close connection to those who support you?

The answers to these questions can be based on existing feedback or mere intuition. Regardless, you need a starting point to forecast possible outcomes and how to navigate each of them during this new set of circumstances. Do a quick wellness check. Ask yourself:

Address the Market Quickly
It's time to work with what you've got. You've put together a quick brand reassessment, adjusting it through the lens of the new normal. It will now steer you on how to address the situation. First, you need to get out in front of it. Acknowledge that things have changed.

Keep Lines of Communication Open
By dividing up your customers into Stay / Pause / Go, we've taken a very simplistic view of your supporters' anticipated behaviors. This by no means is a wise long-term plan. It glosses over too many important customer considerations and is unbalanced. But for now, it's meant to put energy where it's most needed during this challenge. Consider it a brand triage to prioritize the necessities of those who stick with you, while also staying fairly engaged with those that drop off. A simple communications outline for this approach looks like:

Regardless of the customer type, these communications can be done through a series of personal outreach and broader efforts. During this challenge, you need to keep your brand voice active and be responsive to those who want to engage. Blogs, social media, emails, website updates, etc.

The goal of all of this is to position your brand on the forefront during the slowdown and make it top of mind when the market returns, which it will. Remember, brands that hold together through a crisis start with thoughtful, relevant communications as the glue. Keep it sincere, focused, and keep pushing forward!

Bon’s Eye talks a lot about being an authentic, human brand.

Today’s consumers want a whole experience – something that connects with them beyond merely product or service specs.

We believe it all starts with how businesses speak to others.

We’ve written plenty of blogs and produced B2B podcasts about establishing a thoughtful, empathetic voice. You’ll often hear us say that great brands build relationships by telling it like it is. They don’t woo with over-the-head jargon, but rather invite others in through a relatable story. It’s less about verbal glitz and more about meaningful narratives.

At Bon’s Eye, we build brands on these principles of realness. So, it only makes sense we apply the same standards to our communications. That’s why in 2020 we’re calling ourselves out when we veer into cliché marketing talk.

Introducing the BEM Jargon Jar.

For the team’s New Year’s resolution, we’re throwing money into this bad boy every time we utter a branding buzzword or trendy industry phrase. It’s about to rain up in here.

No more lingo drops like, Evergreen Content, Growth Hacking, Gamify, Thought Leader, Data-Driven, Design Thinking, Localization, etc. We’re going to do our damnedest to avoid these tempting, but obnoxious gems.

Let’s be really clear here – we will slip! We need you guys to point it out, and we’ll pony up. The money accumulated in the jar will be used to buy Bon’s Eye swag for our supporters, so check in on giveaways.

Cheers to a New Year filled with genuine brand interactions and jargon-free conversations.

Your Bon’s Eye Crew!

Cruising Now, But Who's Driving?

Over the last few miles, your brand has really picked up speed. You're turning heads, and a crowd of new customers has flagged down your business for a lift. They want your products or services and are eager to invite others along the way. Yeah, it's turning into one hell of a ride, but to where?

It's easy to let the thrill of high-performance, accelerated growth drive you. Still, someone needs to take the wheel and steer – at least if you want to avoid hitting a wall. If your only destination point is, "Until the gas runs out," the best that can happen is you drift to an idle stop. It's a scenario that can be a death kiss to a business on the move.

In the world of brand management, someone's always watching the road ahead while keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror.

They oversee everything from market navigation, speed, mileage, and direction. There's always a Point A and Point B to each leg of the journey. There's clear vision, and the brand never runs out of fuel.

If you don't have someone doing this in your business right now, buckle up. You're in a moving vehicle without a driver.

Develop A Brand Story that Attracts

If you have a brand, it has a story. When crafted properly, this narrative can attract people far and wide for many, many years. The secret to others wanting to step closer and listen to your story relies on its ability to entertain, offer some type of valuable information, or resonate with them on a personal level.

To do this, brand copywriting must follow some basic rules of thumb – all of which require creating outside of yourself. The best ones:

99 percent of failed messaging comes down to content that appeals more to the creator than the target audience. It's produced by and for them. We call it ego writing!

It's much more effective for brands to develop a narrative that welcomes customers into the journey and inspires them to keep turning the proverbial page. After all, if you want people to invest their time and money into your story, it's best to pen a Choose Your Own Adventure than a single-focus autobiography.

Willpower Gets You to New Places. Not the Map.

At some point in life, we've all had big plans. Big plans to learn a new skill. Big plans to get into better shape. Big plans to try something we've never attempted before. In some form or fashion, we've all had big plans to advance ourselves on this journey.

Many of us spent quite a bit of time and thought towards this end. We dug deep into our psyche, exploring the "why?" and "what ifs?" of such change. We wrestled with the idea of commitment. We weighed the benefits of potential outcome against the comforts of our current position.

In the end, we formulated a plan – a map – based on all of this data. We outlined a starting point, milestones and desired destination. Now all that stood in the way of us progressing was physical execution.

It's at this defining moment, so many big plans devolve into colossal energy wastes. In some cases, we succumbed to analysis paralysis. "What foot should I lead with to get the biggest push off?" Other times we become overwhelmed by the breadth of scope, too exhausted to carry out under the weight of our own self-imposed hype. It's a Screw It point that keeps our feet planted exactly where we stood from the outset.

The real secret behind big plan success isn't so much adhering to the map, but rather tapping into willpower... staying driven and committed. After all, there are many different ways to reach a destination. Pathways will washout and detours will arise. However, no one ever went anywhere without movement – and that must be frequent and unwavering if you're looking to go new places.

There are two parts to every marketing push. The vehicle and the content.

The vehicle is systematic. It's a marketing machine to deliver the content to your audience. Your website, social media channels, digital billboards, ad platforms... They're all positioning tools, designed to move your brand to many places at once.

The second part, the content, is your appeal to the people. It's the welcoming creative used to secure your audience's attention and buy-in. A relevant message, captivating narrative, eye-catching visual... They're all your business' charisma, designed to tell your story in the most compelling terms.

Vehicles undergo constant improvement, forever being overhauled with faster engines, precision routing and more advanced automation. They change as quickly as technology allows.

Content also is in a constant state of growth, at least if your brand is evolving (and it always should be). It's the only way to articulate your progress and invite others to experience it firsthand.

Results of both vehicle and content rely on one another. A great vehicle with weak content is worthless, and vice versa. Many businesses overlook this equation, investing the lion's share of time and money in one over the other.

They bank on the latest vehicle innovation to get them in front of millions more. It's expected to move them to measurable outcomes, because that's what it was built to do. But when their brand reaches the masses, it's dead on arrival because the content lacks purpose. In other cases, businesses get lost in the possibilities of creative, neglecting the importance of good placement.

Simply put, you need to adjust your marketing machine if your brand finds itself:

A. Painstakingly perfecting content that usually never sees the light of day
B. Forever searching for a new vehicle, because nothing seems to stick

Influencer marketing is a hybrid of two positioning strategies. The first being celebrity endorsements. The second being social media. The influencer – who generally isn't a celebrity but has a large following on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. – promotes a company's product or services.

So Why Does This Work?

The influencer provides the brand with instant, 24/7 access to an already captive audience... their loyal fans. It's an unspoken rule that influencers only promote the brands they believe in. This goes a long way in compelling their followers to buy in. Some reports show as high as 49% of Twitter users rely on influencer recommendations when making a buying decision.

There are two different ways that a brand can curate a relationship with a digital marketing influencer. The first is to formally contact them and send "free" products in exchange for a quick plug on their social media feeds. Keep in mind, there's no certainty this approach will work in your brand's favor. If a product is blindly sent as part of a PR push, the influencer could opt to focus on the negatives. Since they've worked hard to earn the trust of their audience, most aren't scared to call out flaws in their effort to present authentic information.

The second, and more sure-fire, way to build a relationship is for the brand to actually employ the influencer. The brand pays them for so many endorsements. In these cases, terms can be more defined because the influencer is under contract.

In either case, it's important to seek an influencer that aligns with your brand's personality and offerings. You wouldn't want someone with an older following advertising products designed for younger consumers. To that same point, you would not want someone with questionable character representing your brand.

Influencer Marketing: Is It Worth It?

If you decide to engage with an influencer, the great ones will be able to tell you:

  1. Number of followers
  2. Their conversion rate (how many purchases associated with their posts)
  3. Post frequency
  4. Other products they represent

Influencer marketing is hardly a fleeting trend. In fact, some celebrities have cashed in big time, using it as a side stream of revenue. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, Kim Kardashian makes roughly $270,000 per post. While that might not be the route for your brand, remembering these few simple points can help you in getting the most out of your influencer experience.

According to the New York times, we're exposed to roughly 5,000 ads per day. With Facebook being a key player among the platforms pushing those promotions, it can be hard for a brand to rise above with an offer that's appealing, different and click-worthy. So, we've cooked up six ways to create effective Facebook ads that won't get lost in the noise.

Identify the Need

What's the point of advertising a product if the consumer doesn't know the need it fulfills? Educate your audience on "Why" it makes sense for them to take action. You can encourage them along with exclusive deals or timely sales to create a sense of urgency. However, make sure your Facebook ads clearly spells out the problem, then offers the solution.

Less is More

Your copy should be precise and easy to understand. Too many words not only will confuse, but also will defy Facebook's advertising policies. In other words, the posting could be denied. A strong visual and simple, but compelling, call to action works best when trying to get attention as people scroll.

Target Audience

Why advertise a popular teen clothing item to a middle-aged man? Taking a broad stroke approach with your audience segmentation could lead to just that. Don't simply boost without considering basic demographics and habits. Use Facebook's Insights to first understand your audience's location, gender, language. Then through Facebook's targeting features, pick behaviors and interests that resonate with the folks you want to reach.


Facebook allows you to track usage times of your audience and coordinate your ad post to run during peak hours when you're most likely to get in front of them. If you're a brick and mortar business and your call to action requires them to stop by or pick up the phone, make sure your ad only runs when your doors are open. Post during peak hours so you're sure to get in their feed when they're looking.


The appearance of your Facebook ads should be cohesive, pairing the right look with the right message at the right time.

Test Formats on Your Facebook Ads

Try testing various formats to see how your audience responds. For example, certain products or services might present better in a short ten second video, while others get the point across in a still graphic. In certain cases where the focus is selling multiple products, interactive ads that allow you to swipe left let the audience navigate quickly and on their terms to view the full spectrum of offerings.

Whatever the pitch, the same underlying ad rules apply. Make it target specific, cut down on clutter, position it at the right time, and test responses.

There are lots of ways to get people to your website: Digital marketing strategies, such as retargeting, influencer marketing, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Youtube ads, boosted organic posts, Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Google Adwords...

These are just a few SEO (Search Engine Optimization) vehicles in a large fleet designed to move crowds to your digital digs. Some businesses only need one to drive audiences, while others rely on a whole convoy. With so many online marketing strategies, figuring out how to get them there has become much easier. The challenge now is figuring out What will compel them to stay.

Look, every brand is trying to carve out a share of market awareness. We all crave the same thing: popularity. It only makes sense that ears perk up when a digital marketer sells the idea of $5 into a vehicle to reach 200 leads in return. It's quantifiable and we get excited about the certainty of it all, but is that really true value? In a lot of cases, we find out after the fact that it's not.

Why Your Digital Marketing Efforts Aren't Working

Bon's Eye has talked with many prospects that suddenly realized their digital marketing equation was lopsided and ineffective. In some cases, they had poured upwards of 90 percent of the budget into positioning, leaving only 10 percent to create an experience worth a damn.

Our first question is always, "How did you wind up at this point?" The answer is usually the same. They were sold on the tangibility of SEO lead generation. Someone told them they can increase traffic, and it was a done deal. For months, these brands rode the euphoria of spiked page lands. Each passing week they'd stare into the deep abyss of puffed-up analytics. Lots of traffic, but no steady conversions from visitors to customers. Sales headed in the wrong direction while the website stayed busy. Then one day it dawned on them, "We've built a bridge to nowhere."

They look at their website and see a static wasteland, littered with weak content and void of resonation on any level. There's nothing to influence a reaction... Nothing to call people back for more... Nothing to inspire guests to invite others to the party.

It's Not Too Late To Turn the Digital Marketing Ship

Over the years, we've dissected what makes a website magnetic. We've identified 5 common characteristics. Sticky websites:

It's wonderful to be widely seen. In fact, that' a big part of digital marketing, and SEO can help. But just because you have their attention, doesn't mean you have their respect. Websites must be built to constantly compel anticipation and buy-in. The best ones are the last stop on the digital journey – destinations so rich, authentic and relevant, they immediately inspire trust and likeability.

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