I feel your pain. When you’re incredible, it’s harder to focus your message. After all, you offer multiple services or products, and your business provides customers with multiple benefits. So, you wonder how you can focus these for a value-based marketing approach.
Or maybe you’re thinking, “What exactly is value-based marketing anyway?” The good news is that you may already be using your digital marketing platform to do this kind of marketing without calling it by name.
But you could, and probably should, do more with your value proposition. How? All you need are a few distinctions, a handful of examples, a little confidence, and a dash of the initiative. So, let’s get started.
What is value proposition in marketing?
Value proposition in marketing is a focused summary of the value you provide your customers — the advantages that convince them to give you their business.
Try to finish this sentence with six words or less:
- We’re the best option for our customers because ________.
That’s your value proposition. In marketing value proposition, you put that message front and center. You use it to woo new customers and remind old ones why they should stick with you.
What is meant by value in marketing?
Value in marketing means customer-perceived value. It’s the element that makes people feel like they’ve won the cost-benefit tradeoff — the idea that they’re getting beyond their money’s worth.
At the heart of your business model, there’s a fundamental priority: a commitment to delivering goods or services that your customers view as high-value in a particular way. Maybe you sell high-status brands or inexpensive but lasting products. Maybe you’re dedicated to your brand community or to making necessary purchases more convenient for your customers.
There are different ways to add value, which leads to different types of value propositions.
How is value-based marketing different from values-based marketing?
Value-based marketing focuses on proving your brand can deliver to customers what it says it can.
However, “values-based” marketing focuses on ethics and morals the brand possesses for the common good.
For some companies, the two overlap. Take the clothing label prAna, an activewear line dedicated to social and environmental responsibility. They sell simple designs at a higher price point than some of their competitors. However, fans value the brand’s labor practices, sustainable manufacturing, and charity partnerships.
How is a value proposition different than a unique selling proposition?
Your value proposition is intimately related to your unique selling proposition(s) (USP), but they’re not the same thing.
Your USP sets you apart from your competitors when it comes to a particular market or product. It’s a way of positioning yourself. Your value proposition runs deeper and is part of your fundamental business model.
You likely have multiple USPs, framed for different targets or offerings. They draw on your core value and tell a certain market why they should come to you instead of one of your competitors.
On the other hand, your value proposition is most effective when it’s clear and singular. You might market it in various ways, but those ways share the same root.
Why you need to start value proposition marketing
Customer value marketing gives your campaigns better structure and results. Use it to:
- Focus content strategy. Provide materials that support your claim. Allow prospects to calculate their own potential benefits or show them an experience they’ll want to claim for themselves.
- Get and give better data. Value convinces people to buy. If a value-driven marketing initiative doesn’t pay off, then you need to reexamine how you communicate your message. Depending on your industry, you might also use data to quantify your value proposition for a target audience.
- Develop better leads. Who benefits most from the value you offer? What do they search for online? Create better customer personas and use these to build your pay-per-click ad campaigns on Facebook or Google.
- Inspire value advocates. People love to pass on hot tips that others will appreciate. When you save someone money, feed them the best meal of their lives, or make annoying tasks easier, you create a brand representative eager to spread the good news.
With value-based marketing, you gain clarity. You’ve distilled your pitch into something people can understand, evaluate, and repeat.
What customers look for in value-based marketing
Customers want that clear assertion: “result B will benefit you by doing action A.” They look for products that provide value and back up the claim with convincing evidence.
What do customers value?
Your customers aren’t robots. They’re complex people with dynamic needs and desires. This makes for a variety of values that can be difficult to navigate until you classify each value into one of four categories:
- Functional (Savings, quality, organization, variety)
- Emotional (Wellness, attractiveness, entertainment, nostalgia)
- Life-changing (Motivation, hope, affiliation)
- Social impact (Self-transcendence)
Your business probably navigates multiple customer desires, but ask yourself which one is most likely to drive sales. A competitive price? Amusing teasers? Access to an exclusive community?
What do customers find persuasive?
Then, you need to back up your claims. Any of these forms of proof show a customer that you indeed offer the promised value:
- Scientific studies
- Explanations on how you follow through
- Social proof
- Case studies/testimonials/personal stories
- Industry awards
- Celebrity/Influencer endorsements
Different forms of proof lend themselves to different channels and USPs but prioritize those that best fit your business’s value proposition.
For example, imagine two fitness apps. One is a diet and exercise management tool that consolidates your health information to tell you exactly how to meet a certain weight-loss goal. It also offers a functional solution to help you satisfy an emotional need. If I were considering it, I’d want to see numbers, clear explanations, and before-and-after pictures.
Now imagine the other app offers daily motivation and challenges from athletes and other fitness enthusiasts. It promises to change your life, integrating you into an exciting and supportive community. I’d want social proof, freebie content, and inspiring stories.
Types of value-based marketing
Customer values are complex, but your value proposition should be simple. What do you promise to do for your customers? Put that value at the heart of your marketing.
Immediate value: Solve their problem
You’ve identified a pain point and created a service or product to fix it. In value-based marketing, you would highlight the type of solution you offer.
Quality: The best solution
Maybe you’re just plain better. You use better materials, emphasize craftsmanship, or offer a more comprehensive service. It’s OK to toot your own horn! Claim your advantage with a single phrase or sentence customers can remember.
Then, back up this claim with supporting materials that emphasize the superiority of your offering. Detail differences between yours and your competition. Display credentials and awards. Demonstrate your skills in action. Put together a portfolio website of your favorite past projects.
Usability or convenience: The easiest solution
Do you make the lives of other people easier? Is your software incredibly intuitive, or are your hours unusually flexible? Does your kitchen gadget cut prep time in half?
Tell people how you can provide no-fuss relief. Showcase a large variety of people using your tools or detail the features your customers most enjoy. Set up an email campaign dedicated to stories of amateurs doing amazing things you’ve made easier.
Compatibility or customization: The precise solution
Maybe your service offers à la carte options that are usually bundled together, or you can accommodate a lot of unusual requests. Maybe your product plays well with others, and you can underscore available integrations.
An event planner might show particularly challenging past events. Or a web designer might highlight personalized designs for niche industries.
Newness: At last, a solution
Does your service use proprietary, novel technology or address an emerging need? Or maybe you’ve created a clever, new solution to an old problem.
Take a page from RingHero’s playbook. RingHero is a small business started by three active women who didn’t know what to do with their wedding rings while exercising. They created a wristband with a little pouch. Their marketing emphasizes the originality and elegant simplicity of their product.
Secure value: Give them peace of mind
Unlike shoppers looking for immediate value, customers who want secure value are invested in minimized risk, future performance, and assurances of support.
Trust: Your reputation
Some industries rely heavily on brand trust. For example, a financial advisor’s value proposition should provide hard facts demonstrating their ability. But above all, people need to believe that their money and information are safe in the advisor’s hands.
Flexibility: Their ability to change their minds
People shouldn’t feel loyal to a service simply because it’s a hassle to cancel. Promise your clients that they can change their minds. Maybe your business distinguishes itself with a generous return policy or risk-free trials.
In a world of multiple streaming options, Netflix advertises itself as the ultimate in convenience. The ease of cancellation is one of their most prominent claims.
Support: A shared future
You’re here for them today, but what about tomorrow? Do you have an impressive library of supplementary material or stellar reviews for customer support? Can you offer some sort of guarantee or warranty?
Give them confidence in a future relationship with your business.
Economic value: Help them save or earn money
Like everyone else, your clients want more for less. How can you make their dollars or time stretch further?
Price: Fewer bucks
Some companies offer customers bargain rates and direct all their messaging to that end. Think of Spirit Airlines, one of the first “ultra-low-cost airlines.” Their marketing team never veers off in a different direction. All promotional material focuses on the low fares the airline offers.
Efficiency or longevity: More bang for their buck
Maybe the price advantage isn’t immediately evident. If you offer something expensive that allows customers to save in the long run, fight numbers with numbers. Make their gains as concrete as the price they’ll have to pay.
Productivity: More bucks for their bang
If you’re offering investment opportunities with incredibly high yields, highlight your results. Enlist client testimonials for your website, and invite people to share their own stories on your social accounts.
A lot of B2B value marketing also focuses on outcomes. Successful brands tell businesses how their product or service can help them do more.
Social value: Increase their community or status
Some businesses’ value-based marketing taps into customers’ desires for community or status changes. They promise access, appeal to egos, or play into a certain identity.
Brand identity: Appeal to their self-image or aspirations
Luxury brands rely on aspirational marketing. They promote a lifestyle in which brand names play a major role, and people want to own those names. Their value proposition has less to do with quality than with status.
Other brands align themselves with a subculture. They turn their products into statements of identity and affiliation.
Personal or brand community: Appeal to their desire to connect
Do you make it easier for people to connect with their loved ones in a special way? Maybe you offer old-fashioned snail-mail products or make tee-shirts and other products from personal effects. Perhaps your gym has built up a community of exercise enthusiasts that regularly interact online and in person.
Your value may lie less in access to your facilities than in access to a supportive group of people.
Personal appearance: Appeal to their vanity
There’s nothing wrong with a little vanity. A high-end salon isn’t just promising to take care of your split ends. Instead, they’re promising to make you look and feel beautiful. Show off your handiwork, and tell prospective customers you can help them turn heads, too.
Personal or brand values: Appeal to their conscience
prAna isn’t the only fashion brand capitalizing on the priorities of a younger, more eco-conscious market. People want to feel good about themselves and their impact on the world. If values are at the heart of your brand, integrate them into your message across channels.
Personal value: Spark joy or foster wellness
Sometimes we want to be part of the group. Sometimes we need a little time or territory to ourselves.
Singularity: Make them feel special
A person drops $4,000 on a handbag to make a statement. When they pay that much for a small, one-of-a-kind painting to hang in their bedroom, they do it because it’s special — and makes them feel special. It brings them pleasure that they don’t need to share with anyone else.
Experience: Make them hungry
Do you make the best barbacoa in the state of Wyoming? Or offer local-led tours of a popular city? There’s a reason customers will come to you instead of Taco Bell or a Big Bus Tour. They want a unique experience.
Health: Make them feel nurtured
Health and wellness branding can be powerful. These days more than ever, we all want to feel like someone’s taking care of us. Promise spa clients that they can leave the world behind for an hour or direct health-store customers to packages designed to target common complaints.
Examples of value proposition marketing
In addition to providing examples of value propositions and on-page marketing, today’s successful businesses extend customer value marketing into other digital channels. Get inspired by three companies that do it well.
Tortuga travel backpacks are a novel solution — a backpack that isn’t made for school or camping. Instead, they were designed as carry-on luggage that adventurous travelers could easily carry from one location to the next. Their small business storytelling focuses on the two founders’ one-time struggle to find the product they later invented.
The company populates their Instagram account with pictures that convey their value proposition. Almost every shot shows someone young wearing a Tortuga backpack while they explore a fabulous destination.
Strava is another brand killing it by marketing value proposition through social media. The fitness app provides athletes with training tools and connects them to a global community of users — mostly runners and cyclists.
While the company’s social accounts are popular — their Instagram has over 1 million followers — it also excels at the dedicated-hashtag game. #Strava has more than 7.5 million posts on Instagram, and their top three more specific hashtags have over a million posts apiece.
Uber wasn’t always the corporate giant it is today, and clear value marketing helped it grow. Uber recognized that their primary offering (to both drivers and riders) is convenience. An easy-to-use app allows you to schedule a lift without the hassle of calling for a cab or restricting yourself to certain pickup and dropoff points.
One recent email newsletter shapes this promise for a particular market — families. They offer an Uber Family profile that allows busy parents an easy way to ensure their kids are getting from points A to B.
How to implement value-based marketing
So, how can you put value at the heart of your own marketing? Start by imagining your customer and refining your value proposition. Then, carry the message into your usual digital marketing channels.
Your journey should look something like this:
- Create detailed customer avatars. Flesh out all of your target markets into complete customer personas. You might complete this step alongside the next.
- Frame your value proposition accordingly. How can you communicate your fundamental value proposition based on what they need or want? What is most likely to convince them to buy?
- Prominently incorporate the proposition on your homepage. Make it big and bold so that visitors can’t help but see it. You might also edit social media profiles to reflect this value better.
- Shape your message for different targets. Without losing the common core, find the right angle or USP for all of your customer avatars. Be prepared to revise these as your business and customer base evolve.
- Craft value-based content. Choose the best channels for different targets, and create dedicated content that proves your claims. This is the perfect opportunity to put your email segmentation to work. Instead of flooding inboxes, be selective about what you send to whom.
- Evaluate respective conversion rates. Where is your most profitable traffic coming from? How can you use this information to refine your messaging and customer avatars?
- Stay the course. Your exact messages will change, but — short of a major business rebranding — your core value proposition shouldn’t. Keep content fresh as you’re able, but don’t be afraid of repetition. If you can’t get a certain mantra out of your head, chances are your market will remember it too.
Take your time with the initial steps. Strong, detailed customer personas will help you at every stage of your marketing. And it may take you a few tries to find the right words to distill the value you offer.
Use value-based marketing to present your customer-centric brand
There you have it. Value-based marketing boils down to telling customers what they’ll gain from doing business with you. And by focusing your message, you’ll give it strength and clarity.
As you create or revisit your customer avatars, pay particular attention to their desires and motivations. Ask yourself: Which type of value is most likely to influence them in your favor? Once you have the right category, you’ll find it easier to articulate a specific value proposition.
Then, it’s just a matter of getting the message out. You could shout it from the rooftops, but you’ll probably find it more effective to use top-notch digital marketing tools, like Google ads, social media, SMS text messaging, and email marketing.