Remember the good old days when marketing was based on a list of “power” words used in to create persuasive copy and stimulate people to buy? “New”, “Secret”, “Limited Time," "Only One Left," "Don’t Miss Out,", “Proven”, "One Time Only," "Big Discounts," "Guaranteed," “Discover”, "Free."
For a long time, those words worked. They worked in ad copy, they worked in direct mail pieces, they worked in headlines, they got responses and they drove sales.
Times change, things change, marketing has changed. We marketers can no longer control consumers; they control us with their online reviews, Facebook posts and Twitter rants that go viral. Smart consumers simply don’t believe claims or promises any more. They've heard everything before and seen that it’s not real, so they don’t care, and they’re not going to respond.
Today’s consumers make conscious choices that are based on the values and personality of the brands they like. These companies give to people, communities and causes and give back to the earth. Think Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, Newman’s Own. These brands don’t use discounts or sales gimmicks to drive sales. They don’t have to lower prices to make people feel good about purchasing from them.
And that’s the key to writing copy, creating content and overall marketing that appeals to today’s smart consumers--copy, stories, videos and social engagement that makes people feel good about themselves when they buy what we are selling.
Values are the goals and beliefs that guide people’s actions and behavior. They motivate how we think, feel and communicate. Values form the drivers of people’s buying decisions. Thus, values-based marketing appeals to a customer's values and ethics. It shifts marketing from a product-centric approach to a customer-centric one (). Many of today’s buyers care about a brand's values as much as its products.
A values-based marketing strategy that aligns with “feeling good” speaks to many aspects of human nature and what influences people to change their buying behavior. It's no longer about the words we use, it's about our values and the values of the people we want to do business with us.
A company's marketing message expresses its values as part of its core brand mission statement.
As an example, the brand, , demonstrates the success of values-based marketing. Their start-up campaign was a “one-for-one” in which they donated one pair of shoes to children in need for one pair purchased. This appealed to a lot people and introduced many new customers to the company because of its image as a generous and caring company.
Ben & Jerry’s story is famous: they started their ice cream empire on a shoe string using borrowed money. When their little company began to take off, they started the , donating a percentage of their profits to community projects.
The is another example of an organization driven by its values and desire to help. 100% of its profits and used for their philanthropic projects.
believes that “We … can – and should – have a positive impact on the communities we serve. One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
The list goes of companies who have succeeded by tapping into the universal human desire to be a part of something greater than one’s self.
What’s the lesson a small business can take away from these examples?
Good values instead of "good" words can influence buying behavior.
Promises of “best” quality, “best” service, “best” price, “best” value are meaningless. Everyone’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt. Today, people want a brand they trust to make them feel like they’re helping to do good. Being a part of something that does good in the world makes us happy. They also want to purchase from and support companies that do good in the world. Good products and good prices aren’t enough for many consumers.
According to , the vast majority of consumers want to purchase from brands that give back to humanitarian or environmental causes, and they will switch brands if a company is not aligned with their same “do good” values.
So that they can do business with companies that share their values, they want to know all about your company, its operating principles and philosophies, how you produce, package and distribute your products and in what ways you give back to the communities where you do business. This level of transparency shows authenticity. It creates emotional connections between you and your customers, and between you and consumers who could be your customers.
In fact, consumers now name “authenticity” as an important factor in what they purchase. Nowadays, philanthropy and value marketing isn't just good for the world, it's good business.
Communicate Your Value
Be sure that your company’s value statement is on your website under the “About” tab. Here’s your opportunity to tell your story in detail and provide the information that proves you are authentic.
Add Value to Your Products
Of course, just saying that you support worthwhile causes doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have good products. Marketing materials that promote your brand’s values work best when your product has value, too.
Just as you promote your brand’s features, you need to promote what you do to add value to your products and/or services. Do you add value in ways that your competitors do not, such as
- added features
- free shipping
- extended return periods
- expert advice
- quality customer service
- loyalty reward programs
- workshops or other forms of educational events
- Customize products or services when asked
Words that communicate your product’s good values will help you stand out and get new referrals and sales.
We Hear Your
We know what you’re saying: “I’m a small business owner, how can I expect to achieve results like Ben & Jerry’s or Starbucks?” The answer is, of course, you can’t. But there are things you CAN do to educate your customers and prospects about your business’s values in your own little corner of the world.
1. ) Customer Values
An important part of developing a values-based marketing strategy is discovering what your customers value. Research, like surveys on Facebook, or possibly focus groups, can provide important insights on customer values. Another tool at your disposal is reviews of your business on Yelp, Google My Business and other sites where consumers post reviews online.
Armed with this data, you can then develop your vision and/ or mission statements. These statements will contain your customer-focused goals and objectives.
2.) Business Alliances
You can use business alliances to help achieve values-based objectives. This is particularly effective when your alliances can deliver value to help communities.
Put on your thinking cap. What other businesses in your area , and how can you partner with them to do something for the greater good?
Say that you’re the owner of a women’s clothing consignment shop, and you often have customers who do not want the clothes that don’t sell returned to them. Is there an organization in your community that helps underprivileged women prepare for job interviews? They would welcome donations of career clothing that hasn’t sold for you, and in return, their successfully-employed clients can come to you for additions to their working wardrobes.
Another example: A local music venue could partner with restaurants in the area to promote gigs in exchange for poster space inside the venue. How about the printing company that prints the posters? They would most likely want to have their business name seen at these events. You and your business partners get to tap into each other’s audiences to spread the word and promote the event.
Whoever you partner with, and however you do it, make sure it’s mutually beneficial. The partnership should work towards the goals of both businesses.
Using value-driven content, whether it’s a blog on your website, a Facebook post, a Tweet, a video on YouTube, a board on Pinterest, an email blast, or an article on LinkedIn, you get to address a wide audience. Here’s where you can share with readers your company’s values and how you practice what you preach.
Using the data uncovered in step #1 above, cover the topics your customers care about. These topics don’t even need to be directly related to your product, but they should be relevant.
For example, you own a coffee shop. Tell a story on your web site and on Facebook about how your products are sustainably harvested so your customers know you’re not raping the rain forests. Then in a mailing you can share a recipe for some delicious cupcakes that go well with coffee. Host an event in your shop where you demo how the different coffee makers you sell work and offer tastings of different coffee flavors.
You’re the owner of a kitchen remodel business, and you’ve discovered from reading customer reviews on line for your company and other companies like yours, that many people don’t want to buy imported cabinets because they fear harmful chemicals may have been used in the finishes. You sell only cabinets made in USA. In addition, the cabinets you sell have an industry organization certification stating the cabinets are manufactured in accordance with strict environmental standards. You can use this information in your marketing materials, on-line and in print, on your trucks and yard signs, on your invoices and business cards. You want as many people as possible to know your company values.
To build successful relationships with today’s consumers, companies must express and demonstrate, with authenticity, what they stand for and why. By putting your company’s values and those of your consumers above price or product features, you will win consumer hearts and their business and loyalty.
Sources Used for this Article and for Further Reading