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:
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.
For prAna, values-based marketing and value-based marketing overlap. Their value proposition relies on customer-shared beliefs.
prAna offers products with functional value, produced with the ethical consciousness many customers look for.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
Business leaders and marketers around the world are in a never-ending struggle to retain their customers. It’s no longer enough to convince someone that a product or service is worth an initial purchase. Instead, you must give users reasons to stick with your brand after their order.
Returning customers spend more, view brands as more trustworthy and are more likely to tell friends and family about their experiences. In other words, retention is about more than keeping one customer; it’s about cultivating a community of people who trust and respect your business.
There are quite a few ways you can create a top-notch customer experience and win over people from the moment they place an order on your website. Today, we will explore four strategies that can help you boost your retention rate and sales. Let’s dive in!
1. Deliver on your promises.
Let’s start by discussing how you handle new customers as soon as they buy a product or subscribe to your email list. The key to winning over users during this time is to act fast and deliver on your promises.
For example, let’s say someone subscribed to your email list because they were interested in a content-based lead magnet on your site. As soon as the person enters their name and email address, they should receive the content upgrade directly in their inbox. Imagine how you would feel if you were in their shoes and didn’t get the promised offer until days after you subscribed. There’s an excellent chance you moved on and started looking at other companies.
This principle also applies to how you market your products. The owner of an email marketing SaaS would not say their software will help users triple their subscribers overnight. They couldn’t possibly keep this promise because every person and circumstance is different. But it is fair to say that your software helps customers grow their lead lists.
My advice in this situation is to assess every offer and customer outreach and ask yourself, “Am I consistently delivering on this promise?” If so, you may need to rework your message or offer to line up with what customers expect from your business.
2. Develop an intuitive onboarding system.
Develop an intuitive onboarding system to ensure new customers continue using your product or service after their initial order. Onboarding is the process of showing customers how to get more value from their purchases. This strategy is often used with digital products, like software and applications.
One good example that comes to mind is Spotify’s onboarding program. New users who download the app will get on-screen prompts that show them how to do things like save albums and create playlists. This feature is beneficial for people who are not familiar with the music streaming service.
If you need help developing an onboarding program, review user feedback and ask loyal customers to beta-test upcoming releases. After some testing, you may notice that a vast majority of participants are confused about a specific feature. In that case, you can develop this aspect of your onboarding. After a few test runs, you should have a detailed system that increases retention and customer satisfaction.
3. Personalize messages and offers.
Next, let’s talk about the power of personalization. Shoppers expect brands to personalize their interactions and marketing material based on their goals, interests and pain points. The best way to add this strategy to your business is to segment your audience. Segmenting is when you divide your customers into lists based on their needs.
For example, an online pet store would create lists for people who own different animals. Cat owners need specific products and services, as do dog owners. Can you imagine how a cat owner would feel if every single email from a new pet supply store they found featured nothing but dogs? Odds are, they would feel like the content is generic and doesn’t speak to their needs. Meeting their needs through personalization ensures people will continue reading your emails and visiting your website.
If you need help segmenting your list and implementing personalization, I recommend asking new customers to choose their preferences as soon as they engage with your brand. Use their responses to put them on a list that ensures the content they see matches their interests.
4. Create a loyalty program.
Finally, you can win over new customers by creating a loyalty program. The type of program you use will vary significantly based on your product selection, budget and industry. The purpose of loyalty programs is to reward customers for repeat orders.
An email marketing SaaS might create a subscription tier where users get two months for free if they buy a year up front. Alternatively, brands that sell physical goods could introduce a point system where users get cash back for every dollar they spend, starting with their first order. If customers see a $20 credit waiting for them on their next order, they are far more likely to return to your site and make an additional purchase in the coming weeks.
Feel free to experiment with different loyalty programs. Adjust your strategy based on engagement and retention after each change. If you continuously fine-tune your rewards and system, you can expect more people to place multiple orders.
As you can see, there are plenty of exciting ways to win over new customers. The tips outlined today can help you set up a system that ensures your target audience has a lot to love about your brand from the moment they place their first order.
Image Credit: GETTY
The multiplication of talents is the most crucial part of the partnership. Here's a breakdown of how to effectively manage a business partnership, even when it gets tough.
Thinking about the business partnership phenomenon, I remembered the movie The Mighty.
The story centers on two teenagers: Max, a silent and clumsy giant, and Kevin, nicknamed "Freak," a small, clever boy who moved on crutches due to an illness. They were constantly mocked and bullied at school. After another incident, the boys decided to fight back against their classmates by uniting into a giant knight. Climbing onto Max's shoulders, Kevin became the mastermind behind which the stocky giant smashed the attackers.
Moving from the literal to the metaphorical, The Mighty remains one of my most essential collaboration films. It reveals the most crucial part of the partnership, which I call the multiplication of talents. Let's break this down and a few more essentials of effectively managing a business partnership.
1. Distribute responsibilities
If two people manage the company, and both have the same vision of plans for development or getting out of this or that situation, it makes no sense. Each of you shouldn't have to do everything — you should concentrate on your primary skills.
Another managing partner of our holding and I have different competencies. For example, I am an economist by profession. I look for investors and bring companies to new markets. I mostly lead our projects in Europe and Asia because I have worked in these markets for more than 10 years.
On the other hand, my business partner deals with strategic planning. He lives in the U.S. and mostly manages our projects there. He is a computer systems engineer by profession, which is one reason his favorite projects are technology-based.
What do we get from such a division of responsibilities? First, we are building a diversified holding of multi-vector assets, thanks to which the business is becoming more and more sustainable. Second, this is a more convenient way to manage a team: Employees at all levels understand who to go to with which question. And third, this is how we maintain the proper distance and do not micromanage or excessively control each other. Development requires space, so we give it to each other.
Our cooperation is built on the "do what works best" principle. And it does work: The holding grows from year to year.
2. Don't "hog the blanket"
A business partnership somewhat resembles a marital relationship. It is important for partners to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses and how they will deal with them.
If both partners are unable to let go of control or admit their weaknesses, they will almost 100% "hog the blanket" from each other — that is, they compete to take over most of the powers without taking into account the interests of the partner. But in competition, partners weaken each other and the joint project.
The signals partners give to employees, especially the CEO, are very important. C-level managers perceive the struggle between founders as a standard of relations in the company and a model of managing subordinates. If you see that your employees lack independence in decision-making, it is often due to the example they follow.
The ideal version of a business relationship is that your partner is equal in strength and scale of personality and differs in habits and ideas. Based on our partnership experience, I know that sometimes the air between you can get electrified, but the best solutions are born in such friction.
3. Give your partner the right to make a mistake
"Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan," said John F. Kennedy. In a business relationship, partners must be responsible for each other's decisions. If they blame each other for bad decisions, they will not last long together. Failures should be a reason to jointly review the strategy and work on mistakes.
Punctures and unsuccessful investments are constant companions of entrepreneurs. About two dozen startups that my partner and I invested in burned down. If we quarreled after every failure, we would not have built a large international business.
It takes time to develop the right attitude toward failure. We used to fight for every startup, but we have become more pragmatic with time. If quarterly reports do not match, market indicators have fallen, and there are no conscious growth forecasts — we decide to shut down such a business.
4. Enjoy your collaboration
Partners can be an effective team and make good money together. But it is equally important how they feel in the process and this relationship.
The satisfaction of working together is the glue of partnerships. Admiration for a partner's talents and the pleasure of cooperation can save a business even in hard times. The ability to enjoy signals security and therefore the ability to trust. Trust is built through mutual support in upheavals, sincerity, and attentiveness to the person you are doing business with.
You should be able to have fun together. I have been very lucky with my partner because it is interesting to discuss new books and research with him and debate the vector of development of our projects. And since we argue quite often, it is crucial that the shared emotional ground is solid.
All the nuances of partner interaction are directly reflected in the business. There is a lot of personal stuff in a productive business partnership, and emotional comfort weighs no less than the number of deals or the value of common assets. At the same time, mature partnerships are not a gift from heaven but daily joint work. I hope the principles I have shared will help you make this work easier and more fun.
Scaling is very rewarding, but the process itself is stressful. These seven steps will help businesses scale with less stress and better results.
Did you know that Quibi launched in April 2020 and imploded six months later? It shut down in October 2020, despite receiving funding of $1.75 billion. This article should motivate others to start scaling, so why did I start so dismally?
Entrepreneurs want to scale, but not all businesses are ready for scaling. Some startups never make it big, so first, analyze if your business is prepared to scale up.
3 telltale signs you are ready to scale
1. You meet and exceed business targets: As a new business, your sales forecasts and action plans cannot predict how your business fares. Use exact time frames, expenses and average revenue for accurate sales predictions and increased profitability. Document met (and exceeded) targets to assess your statistical data. Next, set attainable, higher goals; if you still beat those, it may be time to scale.
2. Your long-term business goals are challenging: If you are meeting revenue targets, why would the long-term goal of increasing profits be an issue? Your monthly returns may be great because you are fulfilling existing demand. Your long-term success may seem challenging because you currently lack people or resources. Refusing sales orders as your demand increases makes extended goals look challenging. This lack indicates that your business is growing quicker than you expected.
3. Your supply is insufficient for your demand: Rising demand for your products or services is precisely what you aimed for, right? You will lose customers if you lack inventory, employees, or time to keep up with surging demand. The hype and brand image you build will also dissipate. Your revenue and expansion depend on your customer base. Improving customer handling ensures that they remain satisfied with your brand. If your startup is ready to grow, reinforce your infrastructure first.
Successfully scaling a startup
Entrepreneurs and business owners who scale up earn higher revenue at lower investments. Effective scaling improves your profit margin and increases revenue while reducing costs. Once you have determined that you are ready, the next question is how to scale your business. Below are seven ways you can successfully scale your startup.
Data helps predict the resources required to scale. While scaling, it is crucial to maintain productivity and efficiency. A successful business handles spikes in workflows without losses like employee turnover. The following strategies make scaling up less stressful and improve efficiency and productivity.
1. Create a business plan
Create a durable strategy and include a monthly sales projection and milestone deadlines. List your target audience, ways to approach them and marketing strategies for conversions. These guidelines will help you track your progress.
Do not forget to log known and expected expenses. Your current expenditure will be the baseline to measure how much it will cost to scale up. Make sure you document all the relevant details, or you may run into cash flow problems.
2. Build a team
Hire employees or contractors, or embrace a franchise model as your operation scales. Work towards developing a cohesive team of people with diverse skill sets and talent.
Inform your team members about all expected goals and objectives. Look after your team, and encourage regular meetings to understand their pain points. Brief them on key performance indicators to improve their performance. Do not foster employee burnout by expecting employees to take on added roles as you grow.
3. Reduce costs of products or services
Reduce material costs and buy used equipment. Hire inexpensive labor and reduce wastage. Compare vendor services and choose the most cost-effective ones. Use effective online marketing strategies that are often free.
Negotiate for lowered rent or equipment expenses with vendors. Ask shippers for special rates to reduce shipping charges. Find ways to lower energy consumption and switch to green energy, which will cost less in the long run.
4. Optimize your product (or service) for buyers
Identify your target market and learn how to reach and sell to them before you scale. Keep building your brand image on established online platforms. Create value additives, such as blogs, DIY articles, press releases and industry publications. Ask customers for reviews to build credibility.
Track sources you get the most traction from to identify and fix issues in your lead funnel. Use the money saved by reducing costs to augment your product or service. Invest in customer service and functionality improvements, add new features and train your employees.
5. Streamline processes
Processes and procedures should be in place before companies scale up. Break tasks down and assign priorities. Automate because it saves you time and money and boosts employee productivity.
Automated billing invoices your customers or adds any applicable surcharges. Automated customer support boosts your customer experience.
6. Assess finances and funding
Scaling costs money. It uses lesser investment but yields better returns. Scaling by using only reinvested profits may be difficult. You may choose to bootstrap to be self-sufficient, but that is not always possible.
Apply for a business loan or line of credit from banks or lenders, or approach investors to fund your growth. The money you borrow will cost less than equity if you manage repayments well. Carefully choose repayment schedules, interest rates or investor control options.
7. Improve your marketing
Small businesses often rely on referrals or free online social media campaigns. You may need to supplement your marketing efforts as you scale.
Focus on organic marketing channels such as search engine optimization and content marketing. Optimize your campaigns to control budget spending if you run paid campaigns on any platform, and set realistic goals to track campaign performance.
Any business growth requires elaborate planning for short-term and long-term business goals. These goals will guide you on the need for investors, recruitment and automation and their relevant solutions. Scaling is attractive because of its returns, but you will face challenges.
Stay efficient and avoid errors by keeping data and processes streamlined. Increased customer retention helps; use your customers' feedback and suggestions for improvement. You can do this.
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