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November 24, 2022
When you think of the word “value,” what comes to mind? For some, it’s an important principle or moral, such as a belief they hold dear. Others think of quality or rarity. If something is valuable, it’s not a run-of-the-mill item you can get anywhere. Both definitions are right. And both play a role in understanding value-based messaging in marketing. Today, we’re exploring just what this term means and how it helps you better connect with your audience:
Value-based messaging (VBM) is a communication strategy to share your value proposition with leads and prospects. This type of messaging framework identifies values that matter to your customers and markets your products or services to them using those values as a priority. VBM helps your customers solve their problems, meet their goals, or otherwise feel good about themselves and their decisions.
VBM works because it allows you to create customizable, highly-targeted messages for all of your audience segments. These types of messages go beyond telling people what your brand does or listing product features. Because the truth is, your audience doesn’t really care about your product or even your brand. They care about what your company, product, or service can do for them.
VBM puts that “what’s in it for me?” factor at the center of your marketing messages. If you’ve ever wondered why a product that doesn’t work or an unreliable service has become popular in your industry, value-based marketing is likely behind the success. The perceived quality or value of a product or service is actually more persuasive than almost any other marketing tactic. If you can lock in that perceived value, you have a better chance of getting the audience to listen.
If you know what your audience values, you can discover the best ways to market to them. Whether consciously or subconsciously, every lead who encounters your brand has a little internal conflict. They weigh whether your brand’s product or service is worth their time. They may consider things like price, usability, and convenience. But ultimately, these criteria all come back to the value they put on the product or service they’re looking for. For example, if people are desperate for a quality solution, they’re often willing to pay more.
But how do you find out what each segment of your audience needs? Management consulting firm Bain & Company developed The Elements of Value Pyramid, a marketing tool based on the psychological structure of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Image via I Mean Marketing
The Elements of Value Pyramid addresses four basic audience needs: functional, emotional, life-changing, and social impact. Like Maslow’s hierarchy, the needs audiences have start at the bottom of the pyramid. Most importantly, at this level, they want functional products and services that work. For example, does your product or service integrate with their current programs? Does it reduce their costs?
If your audience has already met their functional needs, the next deciding factor is based on an emotional need. Does your product make a task or process easier? Will the service help reduce pressure or anxiety? Beyond emotional needs, your audience looks at how your product or service can change their life in the future. Does the product or service give them affiliation or a sense of belonging with an elite group? Will it provide motivation long-term?
And at the top of the pyramid is social impact, which only has one need: self-transcendence. The desire to do something greater than themselves motivates people and organizations with this need, such as donating to a cause or helping others in need. But if the person or company doesn’t meet these needs, they can’t reach that social impact level.
By understanding this tool, your team can create value messaging that targets the exact desires of your audience. The more elements you can provide, the more interested your leads will become. And this, in turn, will increase customer loyalty, boost growth and add to your business’s marketing ROI.
Though VBM puts customers’ needs at the center of the framework, they’re not the only ones who benefit from using it. Here are a few ways your company benefits from using value-based marketing in its campaigns:
When people find more value in your products and services, they’re more likely to buy them. Essentially, if you do value-based marketing the right way, people will see why you’re offerings are the right solutions to their problems. This makes their decision-making process easier and your brand reaps the rewards of new customers and more sales.
The more you know about what your audience values, the better you can connect with them in every way. Not just through taglines or snappy headlines, but through every brand touchpoint and user experience. For example, if you know your audience has a lot of functional needs, like simplifying processes or eliminating confusion, you can do more than just talk up those features of your products or services.
You can also incorporate solutions to those needs into other areas of your brand. Make sure your website has a clear structure or flow so it’s easy for your audience to find the information they need. Develop step-by-step instructions for how to use customer service features, like your chatbots or your service request systems. The better experiences your audience has with your brand at every turn—not just through marketing—the more loyal they’ll become.
Reviewing your clients’ needs and how you meet them also helps your team think about what your brand does well. What are your strengths? Where does your knowledge lie? The more you consider these questions, and others, the easier it is to establish the core benefits of your individual products and services and your overall brand. Having this benefits list ready can help you write your unique selling proposition (USP) or solidify your value positioning and set your brand apart from its competitors.
Value-based messaging isn’t just for taglines or headlines either. You can use it to guide all of your content marketing strategy. When you know what your audience needs, you can create multiple content assets around each pain point. The options are limitless, or at least only limited by your available resources. For example, creating a variety of informational content helps meet two of your audience’s functional needs. Developing a community on social media or a subscription list for a newsletter fulfills the life-changing need for affiliation or belonging.
The more often you help your audience solve its problems—and the easier you make the process—the more other people are going to take notice. When your brand provides quality solutions or helpful information, the company name becomes synonymous with expertise within your industry. Soon, your brand is a go-to if people want to get the right information or the right solutions to problems in areas where you’ve made your mark.
By securing thought leadership status in your industry, you’ll also increase your need for making valuable content for all your channels. When you’re ready to continue delivering high-quality content at scale with a partner you can trust, set up your first introductory call with the CopyPress team.
Use these tips when developing your VBMs to make them as useful and relatable as possible:
If you’re looking for information about value-based messaging, chances are you already have a marketing messaging framework that isn’t working. To make it better, you first have to look at the effectiveness of the current messages. What does each one say about your brand? What does each one say about the specific product or service it promotes? Does this message influence engagement, conversions, or sales? It’s important to look at both quantitative and qualitative data to determine the effectiveness of your current messaging to find out what’s really going on.
Low engagement or conversion metrics may not have anything to do with poor messaging, though. Instead, it could be your delivery methods or a user-experience issue rather than the message itself. If nobody’s seeing the message in the first place, you can’t expect it to resonate. But if you’ve got a lot of impressions on your messaging but no conversions or sales, take it as a clue that the actual messages aren’t impactful enough. These are the situations where VMB can help bail you out.
So much of the VBM framework rests on understanding your leads and clients. Your repository of client personas for each audience niche can help you get a better sense of what each group values. To determine what they’re looking for and why your brand is the right provider, look at information like:
The more you know about your audience, and use the resources that already exist with their data, the easier it is to get right into developing the messages themselves.
VBMs don’t have to be long or complex. In fact, if they are, they probably won’t work as well. Your brand’s value isn’t a dupe or a magic trick. You don’t need to use smoke and mirrors to try to convince people of the value of your products and services when the truth will do the trick.
Hold a brainstorming session for the marketing team to come up with your list of brand benefits. Then talk with your sales team and loyal customers to uncover more about what your current audience finds valuable about your company. Then, take all these observations and simplify them. Using the Elements of Value Pyramid can help you drill your benefits down to their simplest form to share in all your marketing materials.
Perceived value sells products and services. True value develops loyal customers. Don’t create your VBMs around the assumptions your team has about your products or services. Rather, create them around what your offerings actually do. Staying honest and true to your strengths is a better long-term marketing strategy than trying to snow your audience.
When in doubt, think like a consumer. If you see an advertisement for a product that looks amazing online but doesn’t work when you get it, would you want to buy from that company again? When you can promise value and deliver it to your customers, you develop a solid brand reputation and loyal customer base.
Your VBMs are just the introduction to all the great things your company can do for its leads. The way you create and share them should work as a conversation starter rather than a lecture. Consider how you want your value-based messages to convert your audience. You don’t just want to tell them how awesome your products and services are. You want them interested enough that they want to try things for themselves.
That curiosity typically builds through asking questions, doing more research, or trying something hands-on. When you consider the next step you want people to take after encountering your VBM, you have a better chance of increasing conversions and sales.
Changing to a VBM framework isn’t going to boost your conversions, sales, and revenue overnight. As with most marketing campaigns and strategies, VBM is a process with multiple moving parts. It doesn’t rely on just the words, distribution channels, or knowledge of your audience separately. Successful VBM accounts for all of these elements to help your brand see results. Be realistic about the timeline for seeing success and know that the hard work and time you spend developing your messaging will pay off through the careful use of VBM strategies.
VBM has multiple factors that you need to consider and update when you’re pushing your new messaging to leads and audience members. To make sure you’ve covered all the bases, we’ve developed a checklist of all the pieces to consider when working with VBM. Make sure you’ve addressed:
We’ll leave you with an example of value-based messaging in action. At CopyPress, we have a content marketing analysis tool that helps you improve your brand’s SEO and get insider information about your top competitors. But instead of listing the features of this tool and the report it generates, let’s talk about what it can do for you and your business:
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