In Wednesday’s free Web clinic – Optimizing Landing Pages: The four key tactics that drove a 189% lift – Flint McGlaughlin (the Director of MECLABS Group) will discuss the “value exchange” theory that is foundational to all online marketing campaigns.
But before we share our foundational theory, we wanted to hear your thoughts about value. So we asked marketers, “What is the most important aspect of communicating value to customers/prospective customers?” Here are a few of our favorite answers…
I liked a recent explanation I heard from Katherine Evans from the Marketing Leadership Council. Use “commercial teaching” to educate prospects on a need they weren’t aware of, let them know the importance of the need, then show how your offering is distinct in satisfying that need.
Also, at Intuit, we’ve published an Online Marketing Toolkit to help small business owners with online marketing.
Understand what your customers think is valuable
I think the most important aspect to communicating value is to first understand what your target perceives as value. I remember years ago as a new marketing person, I thought everyone would be as excited about my stuff for the same reasons I was.
Boy, was I disappointed when my campaigns did not produce results. Once you understand what they REALLY want, I think giving it to them is the easy part.
Communicating “value” is tough, since clearly, it’s very subjective – what may be valuable to one person, may not be to another.
However, there is one thing that creates value for everyone – “Social Proof.” People simply feel more comfortable purchasing something online when there are reviews or testimonials of others who have also found value or success in the product or service.
“Social Proof” builds value. We live in an age of “prove it” – you have to prove your value, you can’t just say it.
Seriously, how many times have you read “Ultimate Value,” or “Best Deal Online!” on a website? Chances are those words alone would never be enough to sell you on it. Now, if there were a bunch of authentic testimonials backing up the claims, you’d probably feel more comfortable that you were making the right decision.
Using “Social Proof” is a tried and true method to boost conversions and build value.
Value really is in the eye of the beholder
I recommend reading “Influence:The Psychology of Persuasion” by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini and reframing your thinking from “I am selling to” to “I have an obligation to provide.” Here are a few relevant tips from Dr. Cialdini’s book that lists the six principals of ethical persuasion:
1. Share information that’s meaningful, unexpected and free (value!)
2. Like your customer and tell them why you like them
3. Create authority; outline your skills and experience
I realize my answer doesn’t provide the Holy Grail of “how to,” but I hope that it offers more in the way of secrets to creating value first, how that’s communicated is usually easy once its created – avoid tacky marketing jargon, starbursts, and be real and human.
I have nothing against using promotional headlines and images, I just ensure they send the right tactical message – i.e. if you are selling beauty (or hope), sell the positive results in images as opposed to selling fear (such as “If you don’t use xyz product, you’ll end up like this.”)
For our next community-written blog post, we’d like to hear your answer to this question – Does the future of media companies, ad agencies, and content marketers lie in technology or content? Boris Grinkot and I have already debated this topic on the blog in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, but Part 3 will be written by you and your peers.
Special thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts and advice about marketing value. Before we finish this post, I want to share one more bit of advice – a very interesting take on advertising value I recently read from Adweek’s “Creative Director of the Decade”…
Another potential bit of leverage might be for ethical and fair use of advertising to become a common way companies are rated. Today we see more and more data made available in the areas of a company’s impact on health, sustainability and the ethical treatment of workers and even animals. How about ethical treatment of our most precious resource? Our children. What is your score on fair and ethical use of advertising? This can be measured and quantified and it can become part of the buying decision. Not just for people with children, but for all consumers. Advertisers would reconsider quickly if they noticed that people weren’t buying their product as adults because they advertised to kids.
– Alex Bogusky, “The first Cannes Lion for not advertising at all”