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What is value marketing? Chances are you might’ve heard this term thrown about a meeting or read it on a Linkedin post, Medium article, or others platform of your choice.
Like yourself, I’ve asked myself a couple of times what value marketing really is, definitions aside, after hearing it multiple times thrown in conversations with my peers. And as basic as it may seem, there’s more to it than the classic four-tier categorisation.
For the sake of keeping the flow of this article, I’ll share with you the definition of value marketing and the categorisation mentioned above. If this is boring for you and want to skip to the juicy bit, feel free to click below.
What is value marketing? A simplified definition.
When we talk about value marketing, the main character is always the customer. Simply put, value marketing is putting the consumer first, drawing a map of their pain & gains, and learning how to pair up their needs with your product or service.
The danger with employing effective value marketing lies in trying to develop a value proposition that is too broad-based. You run the danger of having high bounce rates and other detrimental consequences to the success of a value-based marketing plan.
Regardless if you're dealing in retail or e-commerce, you can’t talk about value marketing without considering the value proposition.
What is the value proposition in marketing?
A value proposition in marketing can look like a short sentence explaining your product benefits, an advertising poster, or if you’re already the absolute leader in your industry, a slogan. A good value proposition should:
The four pillars of value marketing
Marketing academics split value marketing into four big tiers, based on qualitative and quantitative differences. It goes without saying that when it comes to value sources, not all customers have the same notions.
Depending on psychosocial factors, geolocations, etc, your clients may prioritise some sort of value over others; the same goes for their objectives which will then influence the way you’re conducting your value proposition.
For example, one customer segment can be more sensitive to material composition in a piece of garment due to sustainability objectives. In this light, it’s safe to say that you also need to define who you don’t want to sell to depending on your product or service, and plan your value marketing strategy accordingly.
*This applies in all B2C, B2B & D2C environments when we’re talking about partnerships and associations.
What are the four pillars of value marketing?
Economic value - qualitative metric
The economic value examines how much a consumer is willing to pay for a good or service in comparison to the value they believe it to be providing. It examines the trade-off between the possible values that a product might provide for a consumer and its monetary cost.
Economic value goes beyond only providing a less expensive option than that of rivals. From the way you market your product to packaging, there are a variety of components that customers may define as valuable.
Pro Tip! Removing transaction prices from the dialogue is essential to value marketing and selling. Instead, focus on the ROI and your competitive advantages.
Functional value - quantitative metric
The functional metric has to do with the product's or service's capacity to assist the user, which then determines how valuable your company's solution is to the said client. In other words, this metric is based on the practical aspect of value marketing or the “what can your product or service do to fulfill the needs of your potential customers”.
Pro Tip! Invest in value marketing materials that highlight the benefits of your product/service while addressing consumers experiencing a specific issue.
Psychological value - qualitative metric
The psychological metric in value marketing refers to the feel-good element, both pre and post-product engagement. Marketing this asset demands in-depth knowledge of the target market.
The company can only leverage its brand and provide customers the personal and psychological boost they need by properly describing their wants, needs, wishes, and goals. When it does, it may offer a unique competitive edge. When done right, this emotionally-driven value may persuade clients to choose your brand over your competitors. Sometimes, a simple technique such as packvertising can do the trick.
Pro Tip! The psychological value of value marketing is where brand loyalty is created.
Social value - quantitative/qualitative metric
The social metric refers to the emotional benefit that a customer gets from interacting with your brand. The social value is found in the communities built by, around, or with the help of the said brand. This can be achieved by building a purposeful brand that your customers can easily associate with.
Where the first three values come by default, the social aspect of value marketing is often added using certain perks via social media platforms. In a sense, the social pillar is a unique added value that has the potential to connect your customers through your service or product.
Pro Tip! Keeping an open line of communication between your brand and your customers via social media networks is always a good idea.
Value marketing in the age of mass marketing
You’re probably wondering how can value marketing stand in the age of mass marketing when by definition, it’s supposed to target more individualistic needs. And that’s a fair question since we can’t possibly provide an absolute accurate individual value, despite the ability to work in segments.
Even with modern tracking tools and exhaustive customer journey maps, there’s still a gap between customer needs and creating an authentic value proposition. On marketing and value creation, Dr. Phillip Kotler, says:
“Leading marketers see modern marketing to be all about value creation“. (Sage Journal, 2020)
Connecting Dr. Kotler's statement to value marketing can only be possible if modern marketers move past the mass marketing stage. Even global giants such as Coca-Cola that have no choice but to rely on mass marketing need to find some individual added value to certain markets to keep their leader status, and it’s interesting to follow such marketing journeys.
“Most modern marketers are in the business of defining and satisfying target customers. It is their definition of the target customer that starts their 4P: Planning of product, price, place, and promotion.” (Dr. P. Kotler)
And what best start for this customer discovery phase than building your buyer personas?
Value marketing and Buyer Personas
As you probably know by now, value marketing is based on buyer personas. Creating a value proposition that stands the test of time without some time and money invested into gathering customer insights is simply not possible. Not even if you’re the luckiest investor in the world.
Buyer personas and customer profiling is an ongoing process and needs to be done in all stages of your brand, from testing to brand awareness and later on, loyalty. Take this as your sign for yourself or your marketing team to do a refresh on buyer personas.
Check out this free buyer persona tool offered by SEMrush
Value marketing and Customer Journey Maps
Now that you’ve revisited your buyer personas, take a step further with a customer journey map and point out in which part of the journey the four pillars are most important for your product or service.
As basic as this sounds, sometimes revisiting your customer journey maps can provide more insights than a full brand audit—nothing to lose there.
Once you’ve drawn your CJM, ask yourself the usual questions:
Had these key points changed since you first launched your brand? How do the 4 value marketing pillars intersect across the customer journey? And most importantly, is your value proposition still legit or needs a bit of love & attention?
Continue with a free customer journey map provided by Miro.
Back to you
Now that we’ve discovered the four pillars and revisited some of the basic tools that create an effective value proposition, you’re ready for the next steps.
To sum it up, definitions aside, whether you’d like to learn how to implement a more customer-focus approach in your business strategy or test different formulas, a well-thought and preferably tested added-value method will help you create a more purposeful brand.