This article was originally posted on my LinkedIn Profile at
http://bit.ly/1WQwmgz
on 11/28/2014

As I sit here enjoying my Seattle’s Best #5 coffee, after spending what seems like an eternity deleting Black Friday promotional emails from my gmail inbox, I just can’t help but wonder, what is Black Friday anyway, and why should I care? Why are all these marketers emailing me about Black Friday?

After all, I’ve been getting emails from marketers for an eternity, it seems. They’re all getting in my face, clogging up my inbox, trying to get me to buy this and that, telling me that I’ll save big bucks, claiming my eyes will pop out… here are just a few examples of the absurdly ridiculous attempts to get me to pull out my wallet:

  • Prices so low, they’re scaring us!
  • Get your treats! Last chance to save
  • Time is running out!
  • Black November – a month of Black Friday deals
  • 50 eye-popping black friday deals

The problem with these? They came between October 26th and November 6th! And these aren’t amatuer marketers who don’t know any better than to spam your inbox until you can’t see them anymore – or don’t care anymore. They’re companies like TigerDirect. Canon. NewEgg. Amazon. Lowe’s. Sports Authority.

In fact, not counting this endless stream of pushy, in your face, monotonous advertising that ended up (rightfully so) in my SPAM folder – which I just delete forever because I know it’s just junk even if I actually subscribe to these various email lists – I have 232 Black Friday Emails in my trash folder in GMail – just from the last 30 days! GMail cleans up messages over 30 days old so I have no idea how many were deleted prior to 30 days ago.

So for the last 30 days, I’ve deleted 232 Black Friday emails, most from major companies with HUGE marketing budgets. And I have to wonder, are the inmates running the asylum?

Is nothing sacred anymore? Is greed so blinding that it’s become easy to look at numbers completely out of context? To look at the sales of an historically and hugely anticipated one day sale and tell ourselves and our colleagues, clients, managers, etc., “If we could sell this much stuff in one day, why don’t we do it for a whole week? Or a whole month?” and then look each other in the eye and agree, against all semblance of reason, that this strategy is OK?

To do so is to hijack and dilute – to devalue – the significance and the traditional waiting and anticipation for that one special day of incredible deals.

Thanks. Black Friday is dead.

Because of this rampant over-use of the spirit of Black Friday, it just doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s dead. It’s dead because of greed and ignorance on the part of both the retailers and the marketers that want to cash in on the phenomenon of that one day by trying to replicate it over a protracted period. It’s probably one of the stupidest and self destructive strategies I’ve ever seen. And I am standing back as a spectator watching that fun, crazy tradition disintegrate into the morass of high-pitched, desperate marketing messages that have become so ubiquitous that they aren’t even seen or heard anymore.

There’s an old saying: “you can have too much of a good thing” and it’s 100% correct. Too much of a good thing ruins the natural excitement and enthusiasm for it. Too much gourmet food. Too much Christmas Season (which seems to start in September now!). Too much drinking. Too much sex. Yes – you can have too much sex; and it’ll get boring and unimportant after a while.

Try eating ice cream 3 times a day and see how much ice cream you’ll want to eat after a week or two. Why not celebrate your Birthday every month on the day of the month of your birth? Why not create marketing campaigns that slowly brainwash people – through unceasing repetition – into celebrating their birthdays once a month. I’m sure the sales of all that junk nobody really needs will go up a few ticks from that, won’t it? Or better yet, maybe a ton of money can be made if we just celebrate our Birthday’s every week! Yes, how about every week, on the day of the week we were born?

And doesn’t it make perfect sense from a sales standpoint that if you could increase sales and profits by convincing people to celebrate their birthday every week on the day of the week they were born, why not go for broke and just bask in the glory of the ultimate money making birthday celebration: EVERY DAY!!! Yes we can celebrate our birthday’s every day, during the hour of our birth.

Sounds absurd, right? Because ultimately, celebrating your birthday every day would devalue, dilute, and render unimportant everything to do with birthdays.

So following along with the absurdity of celebrating your birthday every day are Black Friday Month, A Month of Black Fridays, Black Friday Weekend, Black Monday, Black Tuesday, Black Wednesday… get the point?

Pick anything else that’s incredibly awesome and special and only happens once in a great while and do it every day and see how long it’s awesome and special. My wife and I used to travel to Vermont every summer and were so amazed by the beauty of the mountains: every time we arrived in the Green Mountains we had this incredibly amazing and rare feeling of “we’re home”. We wanted to capture that feeling so we bought a house there and moved. It wasn’t long before those beautiful mountains dropped back to the nearly imperceptible background of our everyday lives. Sure they were still beautiful, but you had to take extra conscious steps to force yourself to stop and see them once you saw them day in and day out. They became quite ordinary after a while.

And here’s another good example: Turkey. Let’s have a turkey dinner every Sunday, with stuffing and cranberry sauce, turnips, sweet potatoes and mashed idaho’s. Let’s do that every week for the entire year and see how boring and insignificant Thanksgiving becomes. Maybe we should let our kids dress up in costumes and go out trick or treating on the last day of every month. Let’s see how excited everybody is in October.

So as I sit here admiring the snarky and accusatorial diatribe of my current pet peeve, sipping my Seattle’s Best #5 coffee, not out fighting the crowds to get those deals, in the warmth and safety of my home office, I am comforted by the knowledge that even though today is technically the “real” Black Friday, I know that I can run out to one of the local big box stores and get a great deal on a big screen TV because the stores won’t be mobbed the way they used to be back in the old days when Black Friday was something we all had to wait till the day after Thanksgiving to experience.

So in that respect, I guess a thank you is in order. And hey, since it is Thanksgiving Weekend, maybe next year we can make Thanksgiving about being thankful that Marketing and Greed have made it possible to not have to go out and brave the mobs on Friday, because we can all just breeze on into the stores and get great deals on junk nobody really needs any day during November and December.

But, what about all those insane “Door Buster” and “Friday Only” deals, you ask? Look closely at what is being offered. Most of the stuff is last years unsold merchandise they want to unload. Those $199 laptops? Last year’s model. That $75 flat screen computer monitor? Low resolution, and likely without HDMI connections. You don’t need most of those “loss leaders” anyway. You can still get great deals going to Walmart or Sam’s Club or BJ’s at 3 in the afternoon, and you don’t have to pitch a tent a week before black friday to be first in line. No kidding, we were at Walmart last weekend and people were already camping out on the sidewalk next to the entrance. To me, that’s pretty disgusting. Just how far down the “gotta-buy-gotta-have-gotta-get” rabbit hole of consumerism we’ve fallen.


 

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Jerry Boutot is a Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) and Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). He owns AppDataWorks, LLC, which develops custom solutions for Desktop Software, Web Applications, Database Systems, and Online Marketing Solutions.

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