Unless you’re selling me a car, don’t talk to me about features.
Why should I care about your thing? Sure, YOU believe in your company’s offerings but why should I give you my time and money? What makes you special? What makes you better?
Most companies, when presented with this question, will immediately reach for the old marketing tool of features. Every product or service has its own unique selling point (or USP) that they believe sets them apart and it’s easy to point to your USP and say, “This. This is why we’re special and why you should give us your money.” But that tactic almost always ignores the fundamental truth that spending money hurts. There’s an actual, physiological reaction in the part of the brain that registers pain and disgust when people are asked to spend money. A cool feature – no matter how shiny – often isn’t enough to overcome this pain.
So, how do we, as smart marketers, overcome this pain reaction? We change the conversation from features to value and use our product to alleviate pain instead of cause it.
When we use value-based statements in our marketing, we’re changing the conversation from “it has this thing” to “it will do this for you.” Here’s an example:
Our new, energy-efficient refrigerator uses 10x less energy than a standard refrigerator.
Save up to $200 per year on your electric bill with our new, energy-efficient refrigerator.
When we present an audience with a feature-based statement, we’re leaving it up to them to figure out how that feature will impact their experience and make their life better. When we use a value-based statement, on the other hand, we’re taking the guesswork out of the decision-making process. We’re telling them exactly how we’re going to make their life better. In most cases, audiences don’t care HOW something works, they just want to know that it WILL work. The result is far more important than the exact mechanism.
Research shows that over 75% of executives at companies whose new products failed to achieve their objectives blamed poor value propositions as the root cause.
(Source: Harvard Business Review)
The Elements of Value-Based Marketing
Customer Pain Points
Before you can tell your audience how you’re going to make their life better, you have to understand what’s making their lives harder. You need to identify their frustrations, stumbling blocks, and difficulties. These are their pain points and anytime that you can alleviate one of them, you’ve provided value to them. It’s really quite simple: how can you solve problems that you don’t know about?
Value statements, as we’ve already discussed, are statements that tell your customer exactly how you’re going to help them. It’s not enough to just make a value statement, however. Generally speaking, these statements need to be supported by details or they just feel like snake-oil salesmanship. If you tell your audience that you can save them time and money – but don’t tell them how – they are going to assume that you’re selling smoke and mirrors and move on to a competitor whose offerings feel more solid and grounded.
Value statements don’t have to speak directly to a pain point, either. At the top of the article, we joked about cars being about features but, if you ask a really good luxury car salesman, they’ll tell you that features only get you so far. You have to sell the “value” of that expensive car. You have to sell a customer on how good they’re going to look and feel in that fancy vehicle. The luxury of a thing is a value, not a feature. It’s not a pain point – they don’t feel or look bad in their current vehicle – but it’s a value statement that they’ll look and feel even better in that fancy sports car.
In addition to supporting your value statements with details, you need to provide reassurance statements. Reassurance statements are a type of value statement designed to sell one value above all others – legitimacy. Knowing that “you’re in good hands” is such a strong value statement that a particularly well-known insurance company has hung its hat on that value statement above all else (you know the one we’re talking about). Reassurance statements are the most commonly overlooked type of value statement in marketing but they are incredibly powerful.
Reassurance statements come in two flavors: indirect reassurance and direct reassurance. The most common examples of these are company “about” or “portfolio” pages and customer testimonials. With a company history or “about” page, you’re telling the customer that you’ve been around (you’re stable) and that you’re staffed by professionals (you have the expertise to take care of them). Your company portfolio shows that you know what you’re doing and that you’ve done it before. These are examples of indirect reassurance statements. You’re not explicitly saying, “We’re stable.” You’re showing them evidence that you’re stable instead. The alternatives to indirect reassurance statements are direct reassurances. The best types of direct reassurance statements are customer testimonials. These are quotes from your customers saying how great you were to work with or how awesome your product is or how much better their life is since they worked with you. A great testimonial is a direct reassurance to your audience that spending money with you will alleviate their pain points.
For the Win: Conversion-centric Calls to Action
Of course, the effectiveness of value-based marketing (or any marketing, for that matter) is drastically reduced if you’re not providing conversion-centric CTAs for your audience. We’re all familiar with the concept of calls to action, of course. “Find Out More,” “Add to Cart,” “Call Us Today” – every time we ask a customer to DO something, that’s a CTA. But where a conversion-centric CTA differs from a normal CTA is that it gives you a conversion point. Conversion points can look like a number of things. The most common are email address captures, phone calls, contact form submissions, and, of course, purchases. When you attach a conversion point to a CTA, you drastically increase the actual, monetary value of that CTA. Think about it; what if, instead of showing a product demo video on your website, you asked for an email address first? Of course, you have to provide a convincing value statement so that people will be willing to give you that info but, once they’ve done so, you have the ability to follow up with those customers later. Any good salesman will tell you, the follow-up is critical to getting the sale. With conversion-centric CTAs, you get that chance.
So What’s Next?
You need to re-evaluate your current messaging and ask yourself, “Are we communicating value to our audience?” If you’re just telling them what you do and not how you can make their life better, you need to rework your marketing strategy. Identify your audience’s pain points and how you can address those pain points. Create messaging that reassures your audience and makes them believe that you hold the answer to their problems.
Fastback can take the guesswork out of the process and give you conversion-focused marketing plan that will streamline your sales process and grow your bottom line.
Do you see what we did there? How about this:
Ready to move beyond features and show your customers real value? Let’s talk.