Desperate times need not mean desperate measures. Better Food Trader Project Leader, Julia Kirby-Smith, argues it’s positive marketing that will help you gain and retain customers.
Negative marketing is a tactic that taps into negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness or frustration – and can even directly attack competitors or try to shame people into different purchases. In 2006, Apple ran a memorable negative marketing campaign directly criticising the PC and in 2018 Subway went up against Macdonalds to try to snatch some of their customers. So does it work? Marketing experts say it can be effective for short-term gains, but warn that a negative campaign is not the way to build a brand or increase customer loyalty. In fact, Subway found customers complaining that their advert was annoying, disturbing and made them want to buy a burger. Negative marketing risks creating feelings of negativity in your customers, and ultimately driving people away.
When trading is tough, it might be tempting to rage against the supermarkets, highlight the damaging effects of conventional farming, tell your customers how close you are to closing down, or beg them to shop with you. But who really wants to feel shamed or guilt-tripped into buying a veg box? And if you flag that business is tough and you could be gone in a few months, customers may see shopping with you as a risk.
Positive marketing tells your customers why your produce is kinder to the planet, better for farmers, supports your local community and – most importantly – is fresh and delicious. It makes people feel good about buying from you, and may even give them a sense of buying into a lifestyle or a set of values. You can be clear about your mission, just make it inspiring. If you do need your customers to support you right now, find a way to put a positive spin on it. An offer like ‘Buy a veg box for you and one for someone in need’ sells more produce and makes people feel good about helping.
So in dark times, use your marketing to amp up the good vibes (even if sometimes it feels hard). Stir up positive emotions and bond with your customers through your passion and positivity.