Matter Chatter

Why Cyber Monday is like COMDEX: My PR Spin

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like Cyber Monday reached an entirely new level this year.  

Everywhere you turned; it was in your face. It was impossible to grasp what each retailer was doing, because everyone was doing something.  Some did it well, others not-so-well.  But no matter what, they talked about it everywhere  – social channels, TV, online.  Mix in the websites that aggregated and promoted the information to help consumers find the best deals and sprinkle in the ridiculous amount of email I got from every retailer I’ve ever even thought about and, for me, Cyber Monday was a recipe for insanity.  I even heard an older gentleman in the Newburyport Tannery joke yesterday that the coffee was a “Cyber Monday special.”  I muttered to myself yesterday, “Cyber Monday is like COMDEX.”  And then I chuckled.  And then I thought about it and, Cyber Monday IS like COMDEX.

From a public relations perspective, here’s how I figure:

COMDEX was so huge that it was nearly impossible for any one company to stand out and get attention for what they were doing – yet – they spent boatloads of  time and money to make sure they were there.  Because you HAD to be there.   Fast forward to today: no retailer would dare “miss out” on Cyber Monday, right?

Reporters used to be bombarded with requests to meet with companies at COMDEX.  So much so that some stopped going altogether.  Retailers are doing the same thing  by bombarding consumers with invitations to their sales.  In fact, AdAge published an article yesterday on “Why Cyber Monday is the Spammiest Day of the Year.” The sheer volume of it all is overwhelming.

There came a time when we started to counsel our clients not to make any big announcements at COMDEX, because they would fall on deaf ears. You could get a bigger bang for your buck if you strategically timed your news before the show to drive foot traffic and, more importantly, prospects to your booth.

Ultimately, COMDEX  got WAY too big and died off because people realized that they could get more value by going to the smaller, more focused shows that were emerging.

So, it got me thinking, will Cyber Monday just continue to grow in its insanity or will pockets of retailers find other ways to monetize in more targeted, individual ways? Will a  new online shopping holiday emerge and allow retailers to capture more awareness from a consumer perspective?

If these retailers were my client and Cyber Monday was their “biggest PR event of the year,”  I would ask them if all the time and effort being put into Cyber Monday was truly driving sales and repeat customers.  If the answer to that question is a resounding “yes” then Cyber Monday is a no brainer.  But if that question is met with a lukewarm response, I’d counsel my client to put fewer resources into Cyber Monday and find other ways to stand out and drive revenue during this critical time of the year.

I believe some retailers will eventually “opt out” of the Cyber Monday hoopla and launch jaw-dropping sales during less marketing-saturated days, when they can attract more wallet-share.

But maybe that’s my PR mind working in overtime.

  • Parry Headrick

    I think you make an interesting point. But apparently sales were up by 7 percent over last October, so there may be a couple more years before the trend flattens out. I think when those numbers level off or dip, some retailers may opt to adjust their strategies and look for more meaningful ways to engage with their audiences. Kind of like your COMDEX analogy.

  • Mandy Mladenoff

    But sales can’t be up 7% for EVERYBODY. There are absolutely a ton of retailers that Cyber Monday makes perfect sense for…I just wonder if everyone really benefits or is there a lot of time, money and effort put into something for little return?