What is Values-Based Marketing?


To get to the heart of what inspires purchase decisions, we need to go beyond demographics and speak to inner values. What’s that have to do with a wall of yogurt? Read on to find out.

Many of us, when we hear the word values, think about politically charged terms like “family values” or “liberal values”. In fact, that’s only one side of the story.

Values are a person (or group’s) principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

Values motivate how each of us thinks, feels, reacts, and communicates.

Even through major changes in life, for most of us, our values- what truly matters to us, motivates us, and impacts our decision making – tend to stay constant over
time. Values are our “non-negotiables”. The lines in the sand. It’s what makes people say… “Wow, that’s so…. YOU.”

You can think of values as the drivers of people’s decisions, and not just for the big things like who to marry or who to vote for or what to do for a living.

For example, when all functional things are fairly equal, why do we choose certain brands or products over others? When looking at the wall of yogurt in the dairy aisle, which one do we choose? Is it because one is on sale? Or because one is organic? Or maybe it’s the brand our mom always bought? There are values at the center of each one of those types of decisions.

Understanding how values impact decisions – both the big ones and the little day-to-day ones- is the key to values- based marketing.

Let me give you an example. Moms are a group often lumped into one big category by marketers. So imagine two moms who are demographically similar, with the same age, same income level, and same education level. By most standards of marketing insights, they would be lumped into the same group. For the purposes of this example, these women live next door to each other in a middle-class neighborhood.

Now consider Mom A: She cares about the greater good and has a global conscience. She goes out of her way to align with a company that gives back to charity. She is community-focused and will be willing to pay more to buy local and organic.

On the other hand, Mom B: She is focused more on the security of her family and is looking for the best value for her money. Her purchases will be more practical and she is likely to use discounts and coupons. She might like the idea of buying organic, but the higher cost means she won’t purchase organic products as often, if ever. Would you market to these two moms in exactly the same way?

Now think about the brands that you love? Why do you love them? Most likely they’ve tapped into something that goes beyond a great product or service and forged a deeper relationship with you. Some of the most successful marketing campaigns in recent memory have one thing in common – they resonate with people’s values, in addition to promoting their product.

According to a recent study, 92 percent of people want to do business with companies that share their beliefs (Edelman).

The first step in reaching those potential customers is having a clear understanding of your company’s core values. Values-based marketing is a journey that begins at the very heart and soul of your business.

Your focus should not stop at the product your manufacture or the service you offer. Go deeper. Not only WHO are you but WHY you are. What do you stand for? What is your mission? What are the non-negotiables?

Once you know your company’s values, don’t just stick your values in a drawer or paste them on the wall of your conference room. Share them, publicly and proudly.

By tapping into the place where your values and your customers values come together, you will not only inspire loyalty in your BEST existing customers, but attract NEW customers who are aligned and engaged from the very beginning. Imagine if we could all clone our very BEST customers? What a wonderful world it would be, right?

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