The hyper-saturation of advertising and marketing we see today has many negative consequences. The following two, however, are chief among them.
First, people are becoming increasingly annoyed with brands trying to sell them just about everything—constantly. Overtime, this results in advertising blindness – conscious and subconscious ignoring of advertising messages.
Second (but closely related to the first), it is becoming increasingly hard for brands to get noticed, heard, and remembered.
Long story short, the current state of marketing leaves much to be desired. I would even go as far as to say that it is going through a stage of severe crisis—“The Great Marketing Depression.”
The darkest hour, however, is just before the dawn. The good news is that we already see a slight yet significant shift toward better marketing.
Call it a customer-first approach, empathetic marketing, or marketing with meaning. The idea behind it remains the same: to delight customers by delivering more than they expect and pay for.
Value-added marketing brings marketing to an entirely new level by turning marketing content into a product of its own. As more and more brands adopt this attitude, we’re stepping into the next stage of marketing evolution—one that puts customers first, understands the importance of “going the extra mile,” and emphasizes perceived value to the customer over pure revenue.
Value-Added Marketing: From Theory to Practice
Although the term “value-added marketing” is rather self-explanatory, it still makes sense to quickly run through the concept.
Added value in marketing can be either financial or not. This could be anything from free shipping to referral rewards, even discounts on related materials. It doesn’t matter what exactly a company is offering as an added value as longs as it exceeds the expectation of customers and is considered valuable by them.
To master the art of value-added marketing, a company needs to understand its buyer persona (most typical customer) and what might be important to that persona. This step is crucial for deciding what of value a brand can give customers.
Once a potential value-add is defined, it should be well-integrated into the heart of a business concept. “Well-integrated” here means that the added value is perfectly aligned with the company’s mission, positioning, and long-term goals. What is offered as a value-add should never contradict with the major product or service a business provides.
For instance, a dental health center should not give its returning customers a free family package of chocolate candies, assuming the role of dental healthcare practitioners is to help people take care of their teeth. Neither would it be smart for a gym to sell cinnamon rolls and double-chocolate, king-size donuts in their cafeteria. Most of us go to the gym to lose weight and get in shape, not to fall for another portion of sugary, fast carbs!
Contradictions are confusing, confusion is not what drives sales. Consistency should be the foundation for any value-added marketing initiative.
The Best Value-Added Marketing Cases (So Far)
The world-renowned toy manufacturer LEGO does value-added marketing exceptionally well. LEGO created an online community for its customers where they can submit their ideas for new LEGO sets and vote for the ideas of others. Each submission that gets at least 10,000 votes is reviewed by the brand’s officials and could be turned into a real LEGO set, sold worldwide. Such interaction and gamification is an value-add in its own right, but LEGO has taken it one step further. The brand decided to grant idea-contributors a percentage of sale revenue as well as recognition on the packaging.
One more telling example of a company that knows how to leverage value-adds is Nike. Apart from being one of the top sportswear manufacturers on the market, the company has grown into an ambassador of active lifestyle. The Nike+ Training Club offers people a chance to attend group workouts (running sessions, yoga classes, and functional trainings) free of charge. They also have a free app with guided workouts, so customers can stay active and fit regardless of their schedule and ability to attend a gym. Nike’s approach is good, customer-centric marketing.
Virgin is yet another good example. The company has gone so far in terms of value-added marketing it can no longer be considered just a product or service. Today’s Virgin is not only a travel and media brand, but also a company promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship and helping to nurture talents (and small business). What an interesting way to create a positive brand image!
Reasons Why Value-Added Marketing is Gaining Momentum
The crisis of traditional marketing is not the only reason why value-added marketing is slowly becoming the new normal. There are many advantages this approach has to offer.
- ensures brand loyalty.
- turns customers into brand ambassadors.
- helps retain existing customers and saves money. New User Acquisition is believed to be 7 times more expensive than retention.
- results in a flow of positive reviews and mentions in social media, which helps with brand awareness.
- makes customers more likely to take upsell offers.
- is a foundation for long-term trusting relationships.
Value-Added Marketing Tips (For Any Business)
One of the best things about value-added marketing is its simplicity. In nearly all cases, a brand won’t need a huge budget or a genius marketing team to start taking advantage of value-adds.
Here are some ideas most marketing teams can consider implementing.
- Provide expert advice; being an authoritative information source within the industry your operating in.
- Prioritize high-speed and quality service, including—if applicable—delivery.
- Reward loyalty with return customer discounts and special offers.
- Teach workshops or other forms of educational events to build community around a brand.
- Customize products or services on request.
- Give free, supplemental hardware or software related to the main purchase.
As numerous new brands emerge on the global market daily, the fight for customers’ attention becomes harder than ever.
Meanwhile, the cost and quality of advertising is going down, while the quantity of ads grows. This all results in people getting increasingly annoyed and tired of ads, which eventually forces brands to search for new approaches to marketing.
This is a crisis in traditional marketing, but it is a blessing in disguise. As the old tried-and-true approaches no longer work the way they used to, brands are left with few options but to try something new. Fortunately for everyone involved, it is the customer-first approach that seems to be taking over.