Human beings hate to lose. In fact, people are more motivated to avoid loss than they are to gain something. This phenomenon is called loss aversion, and while it isn’t new, it has certainly garnered more urgency in the era of COVID-19.
In marketing, loss aversion can be incorporated in strategies like limited-time sales, coupons that expire, or scarcity of products — who among us haven’t been lured through an online checkout by the warning of “low in stock”?
So how will loss aversion show itself in 2021’s marketing landscape? Fear-mongering definitely won’t cut it. Relying simply on the fear of missing out isn’t going to speak to your target audience in the way it might have before. You need to make your marketing human. Align with your customer — remind them that your business is also made up of people who are going through hard times. If your product or service can help maintain some semblance of normal life for the customer, highlighting this can help comfort your potential buyers.
Right now, a direct sales pitch can come across as tone deaf. Between entire industries still waiting to rebuild (like the restaurant and live entertainment industries) and the accompanying lost jobs and wages for thousands of Americans, it is much more important to consumers that they can trust the brands where they are investing their limited capital.
This isn’t strictly true of B2C marketing, either. B2B buyers might have relied on in-person trade shows and networking events in the past, but with a sped-up move to digital campaigns, it’s more important than ever that campaigns involve humanity, too. People emphasize networking when it comes to landing a new job you want — and it’s just the same for converting that new lead, too. Relationships make a huge difference when it comes to an investment of time, money, and/or partnership. If you clearly define your company values, you can put these at the center of your marketing campaigns and appeal to that stronger connection that goes beyond a one-time purchase or contract.
To frame loss aversion-based marketing in terms of humanity, then, is to highlight how your product or service can prevent loss in uncertain times. You might emphasize how your product can help you maintain connection despite a largely remote world. You might create a program to help people refinance so they can keep their cars. You could also encourage people to stay healthy through viral campaigns and hashtags. Combining these calls to protect what’s important with an overall value-system that demonstrates concern for the community is a winning combination that will inspire loyalty well into the future, no matter what’s around the corner.