Marketing During the Cost of Living Crisis

Marketing during the cost of living crisis

We’re all feeling the pinch right now – with energy and grocery bills going through the roof everyone is tightening their belts in the face of the cost of living crisis. As a business with products or services to sell it can be difficult to know how best to adjust your marketing to align with your target audience’s needs and desires so here are four solutions to help you market effectively during the cost of living crisis:

  1. Build meaningful connections
  2. Understand buying behaviour during inflation
  3. Find your fun!
  4. Be inclusive

Let’s get into them shall we?

1) Build Meaningful Connections

People are most loyal to the brands that connect with them on a deeper level. It’s not just about being on the platform they hang out on most – you could be posting to Instagram every single day or sending out regular emails but unless your followers and subscribers resonate with your message they’re not going to engage with or buy from you. Consider how they like to be communicated with – is it via stories? Do they consume lots of short-form video in the form of TikToks and reels or are they more receptive to white papers? If you’re not sure, delve into your marketing analytics or better yet – ask them via your most engaged platforms. Do a survey via your social stories or put together something on SurveyMonkey, Typeform or Google Forms and share with your email database and social followers for something more in depth. If you can offer an incentive to fill these more put-together surveys, even better!

From my experience, the marketing game has changed completely in the last decade from brands dictating how their audiences engage with them to the audiences defining how brands should communicate and interact with them. You only have to look at how many big brands are scrambling to leverage TikTok now to understand that if you’re not showing up in the right place with the right message then you are going to be left behind.

A massive part of this is being able to read the room too – from what’s going on a societal, environmental and economical level straight sales messaging just isn’t going to work. Standard images with a call to action to buy now? Groundbreaking. Which leads me quite nicely onto:

2) Understand Buying Behaviour During Inflation

It’s a given that with everything going up in price due to the cost of living crisis people are cutting back on the non-essentials from clothing to services – even if it’s something they need, with prices being what they are it can be hard to justify the expense.

Which is why right now any sales, discounts and added value you can offer will go a long way. If there is a way you can offer a low-cost or ‘lite’ version of your product or service then consider adding it. Ditto with free shipping. Burying your head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the effects of inflation on buyer behaviour is a fast-track route to alienating your audience – both current and potential.

Let’s say you’re a candle business – you could:

  • Add small sized candles or sample tealights to your online store
  • Run a limited-time flash sale
  • Introduce a recycling or reuse scheme whereby customers get a percentage off their next order for returning jars/tins (saves you money too!)
  • Offer free or lower cost shipping options (i.e. 2nd class postage)

If you’re in the business of providing services, you too could still increase conversions by being mindful of consumer behaviour during the cost of living crisis by:

  • Creating a low-cost or ‘lite’ version of your offering – this could mean offering a diluted package for a lower cost or a features-limited piece of software that still adds value to your ideal customer
  • Have demos or run trials that communicate the benefits of your services. If this isn’t possible, provide some valuable content that will help your audience meaningfully = i.e. a PDF around best practices for looking after your finances/ keeping your appliances in working order/ things you can do to increase social media engagement yourself
  • Follow up on all enquiries – even the ones that seem low-value at a glance. You never know until you engage with that lead just what you may be able to offer them!

Most of all, acknowledge that this is a tough financial period for everyone and don’t make people feel weird for not wanting to part with their money so easily right now. It was for this reason exactly, along with clearly explaining to me the benefits (and low costs!) that someone was recently able to sell me an insurance product over the phone (and I consider myself a very tough nut to crack when it comes to sales pitches!)

3) Find Your Fun!

A smile goes such a long way – no matter what kind of business you are and what you sell, if you can make people smile or laugh you’ll surely stand out and even have fun yourself doing it. Could you repurpose a popular meme? Offer a peak behind the scenes of your business, hop on a trend or do something super creative to share in a bit of light-hearted fun with your audience?

This is actually built into a lot of the big brand’s marketing strategy. Take a look at the Aldi and Innocent Twitter accounts for instance. Even RyanAir, which has not always had the most favourable reputation amongst consumers are getting in on the action.

People won’t remember that you sent them an email with your catalogue attached on Thursday 30th June 2022 at 3pm but they will remember that you had a funny tweet volley with a competitor account – and that my friends, is brand awareness.

4) Be Inclusive

In the age of information, consumers are now more salient of brand purpose and have the means to research and differentiate between brands that are genuinely diverse, inclusive and sensitive to society’s issues. In fact, it’s a chief part of the decision-making process according to this Sprout Social survey which found 73% of Gen Z social shoppers, and 72% of millennials, cite brand inclusivity as a purchasing factor.

So be genuinely diverse and accessible to all, demonstrate real action and don’t just pay lip service to what’s going on in the world or what you think it’s ‘fashionable’ to be seen supporting. Not only is that morally wrong but you’ll be caught out pretty quick and your brand will suffer for it.

To Summarise

Yes, life is stressful right now and you may be seeing a drop in sales or conversions. But how your market and communicate with your audience during the cost of living crisis (and beyond!) is important. Taking on board the tips above can help you to cultivate deeper connections with your customers and audiences, building community and rapport which is key to the longevity of your brand!

I’d love to know your thoughts on marketing during this time, do leave them below or feel free to get in touch here!

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