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Direct Marketing To Low-Income Populations - How To Succeed

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Direct Marketing To Low-Income Populations - How To Succeed

Low-income communities often have very different sets of priorities and needs due to the unique challenges they face compared to higher-income groups. A more down-to-earth perspective is needed to understand what these people need.

I have had experiences on both sides of the coin. I grew up affluent, born to entrepreneurial parents. My earliest childhood home looked like a Tudor house and my bedroom was the size of a small apartment. And then, for reasons that aren’t all that important, we went from that to a house that was, in its kindest description, ramshackle and rural.

My point is that one of the reasons why I can market to anyone is because I have a pretty good general understanding of either circumstance. This kind of information likely won’t matter to you if your target market leans more towards the affluent side of the scale, but if you want to branch out and reach a broader audience, then it is imperative that you take note of what I’m about to discuss today, so you may tailor your direct marketing efforts accordingly.

Know Your Audience

Know Your Audience

One of the most critical steps is to develop a deep understanding of the low-income population you want to reach. Different people buy the same product or service at different prices because of who they are, rather than what the product is.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying – walk a mile in someone’s shoes to really understand them. That is an absolute must if you want to market to low-income populations. These people aren’t just looking for the cheapest thing; they have real struggles, motivations, and real needs that you have to grasp.

A few years back, I joined a team trying to market affordable homeowner's insurance in urban areas. They thought we had a great product. They had low monthly premiums and good coverage – yet they were still struggling to get traction with our marketing.

At my behest, they did research by actually going into those neighborhoods and talking to residents. That’s when they realized their approach was all wrong. In fact, their guesses were completely off.

neighborhoods and talking to residents

For many in that community, owning a home was the holy grail after years of renting. It was a huge source of pride, yet our marketing was all about how dirt cheap the prices were. To them, it felt like buying from us would diminish that sense of achievement.

And so, we pivoted and created campaigns celebrating homeownership as a sign of stability and the catalyst for great generational wealth. Everything clicked after that. Our buyer personas and marketing resonated because the team finally took the time to understand the market’s psychographics and values.

That's why doing in-depth research on demographics, buying patterns, media habits – it's all so critical upfront. You can't just go in assuming you know what makes them tick as consumers. You have to immerse yourself in their lived realities and mindsets first.

Build Trust

Build Trust

You can get laid with lust. But you can get married and stay married with trust. In my own business, I've very deliberately worked at creating what I call ″lifer” – customers who stay engaged with me for decades, continuing to buy whatever I next bring forward, so that the getting of one in the first place is not just consummation of a transaction, but the start of a permanent relationship.

To do this in my particular business – essentially the dispensing-of-advice business – I knew I had to earn and keep trust, and I figured out the three key factors in trust-based equity for me:

  • Being known as a candid, blunt teller of truth, even if unwelcome by many, and never pandering. Thus, the ″No B.S.″ brand I created.
  • Establishing certain principles as constants in my writing, and speaking – all my works – that were evident and did not change.
  • Never abusing my customers for short-term profit.

This is my most relevant advice in the context of what I’m discussing with you today. A lot of low-income consumers are, understandably, very skeptical of marketing tailored to them because of how many of these efforts end up taking advantage of them.

The hard truth is that your marketing efforts will likely be met with doubt and resistance if you don't first prove yourself as a genuine, trustworthy partner who has their best interests at heart. Simply bombarding these audiences with more advertising is not going to magically overcome those negative perceptions and emotional barriers that have built up over time.

To break through, you have to be transparent and authentic. You need to show a sincere commitment to actually improving the lives of low-income consumers through your products and services. Don’t just talk at them – have real conversations aimed at truly understanding their needs, fears, and aspirations.

Highlight Value

Highlight Value

As I’ve implied, low-income buyers don't want to spend their hard-earned money on junk that breaks down quickly or requires constant replacing and nickel-and-diming. While price is a great hindering factor, they're also looking for value – getting the most quality and longevity possible for what they can afford. It's about stretching their dollars as far as possible over the long haul.

I'll give you an example from my days marketing budget appliances. We had these two similar models of washing machines – one was $100 cheaper, but it was basically dollar store quality level. The pricier one used more durable components and had warranties and such. Can you guess which one struggled to sell despite the lower price point?

The cheap one. Because the folks we spoke to were savvy enough to know that saving $100 today didn't mean much if they had to replace the whole machine in a year. They'd actually be paying more in the long run with the shoddy model once you factor in repairs, energy inefficiencies, shorter lifespan, and all.

And so we redirected our messaging to emphasize how the more expensive unit offered superior value and longevity for just a few extra dollars a month. It sold like hotcakes, and at the end of the day, they made the smart choice because we stopped just touting the low sticker price and instead educated them on the complete value proposition

The lesson? Don't make assumptions about low-income buyers. Because they have to be more mindful of their expenses, most of them are actually really intelligent when it comes to considering the total cost of ownership and getting maximum value and utility for what they spend. They know cheap just for cheap's sake is often a false economy in the long run.

Last Remarks

Successfully connecting with and marketing to low-income populations requires diligent effort, empathy, and a genuine commitment to improving their lives through your products and services. It's not about pushing cheap or disposable offerings, but instead providing true value that stretches limited incomes as far as possible.

By taking an educational, empathetic, and customer-value-focused approach, you can form deep connections with low-income communities. It does require patience, as earning their trust and loyalty is an ongoing journey. However, embracing their perspectives demonstrates you see them as more than just revenue – you should aim to be a genuine partner in improving their lives through your business. That's what ultimately drives real brand advocacy and success in this market.

For an even deeper dive into connecting with low-income markets, I invite you to join us at Diamond. This exclusive offer will give you access to expert resources, case studies, masterclasses, and a supportive community to help you authentically understand and market to this audience.

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