Amid financial adversity, loyalty and advocacy are more important than ever
In response to a grim autumn statement in the UK, Strategiq’s Emma Burley reminds us that the recession isn’t forever, arguing that customer relationships should be more than simply transactional.
Customers don't just want a value exchange - they want conscious brands / Andre Taissin via Unsplash
In last week's autumn statement, Jeremy Hunt delivered a gloomy but realistic game plan to help plug the £60bn hangover from the pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
It’s official: the office for budget responsibility (OBR) confirmed that the UK is in a recession and living standards are set to fall by the largest amount on record.
With the whole country hit (arguably in some markets harder than others) and inflation topping 11%, brands will need to identify customers with needs that can be met at the right moment with their products, while communicating brand values that people want to be a part of.
On average, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one. But with inbox fatigue looming and adverse buying conditions reigning, how can we communicate brand values and drive loyalty without spamming discounts in an already saturated space?
This isn’t forever: think long-term
It all centers around a potent mix of brand communication and position coupled with unparalleled customer experience (CX). Prioritize these two components, and the rest of your marketing strategy should fall into place as you develop a strong, loyal and growing customer base.
Let’s not lose sight of one thing: this is a storm, and storms end. Interest rates are forecast to fall over the next two years and we will enter a period of recovery, so brands who position themselves front-and-center as part of a long-term strategy, and invest now in CX, will ultimately fare best.
It’s not about the money
If price is your only weapon, then you'll face an uphill climb with your brand’s values, standards and personality. People will only buy into a brand whose shared values underpin a relationship; when people buy into a brand and its values, they tend to buy again (and refer people on).
81% of consumers want to form relationships with a brand, and the same number would make a buying decision based on their level of trust. In an unstable economic climate, this number is set to rise. If you aren’t already, investing in communicating genuine values that galvanize your market will create the tribe you need to continue to drive sales and referrals.
It’s important to fight through the doom and gloom. Rankin, founder at Rankin Creative, recently cited emotion as a tool to bring together your audience during adversity with a "we’re in it together" sentiment, with retailers wanting to "convey a spirit of partnership; of weathering the storm together and a rallying cry of igniting the ‘Great British spirit’ to keep us going".
This approach extends beyond the festive period. Consumers will want more than just a purchase and a product from a value exchange. They want to partner with brands that stand for something and understand the adverse conditions we're all facing. Last week's autumn statement and the coming months are likely to heighten that feeling of needing to pull together even more as taxes rise and living standards decline.
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Tech will prevail
Personalization and a shift in messaging from appealing to customers' wants to their needs is critical in framing your value proposition and positioning your brand as an invaluable resource and partner. But do you really know what your customers need?
You’ll need to consider: what can we do to create messages that target customers at the right time, about the right topic? The most straightforward approach is to create messages triggered by certain behaviors. For example, visiting a particular web page, reading a certain article or using certain phrases in a chat message, that speak directly to what they're likely thinking about or want to do at that point in their customer journey.
You can also use tagging and segmentation in your customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing software to ensure you continue to send relevant messages to people according to their circumstances, preference and stage in their experience. The best way to do this is to have an integrated tech stack, so you have an all-encompassing picture of your customer and their priorities.
Recessions impart untold strain on buying decisions, so it’s vital to implement a frictionless buying process to support your timely communications and minimize drop-offs.
Patience is critical, as buying decisions are likely to be better considered and therefore take longer. UX and moving people through the process has to be watertight.
There's work to be done, and it starts with back-to-basics mapping. First, the prospect/buyer journey, followed by the customer journey. It’s easy to assume what both look like, but the results may surprise you. Involving people across the business is essential.
With your maps in place, you can identify touchpoints at every stage and ensure that you have the right content, tools and messages in place to shore up a high quality experience, whichever stage at which people decide to touch your brand.
86% of consumers may leave a brand after just two poor experiences, but the overwhelming majority (89%) are likely to buy again if the experience is positive: a much needed pillar (and reason for festive cheer), regardless of economic headwinds.
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