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Value Focus: Which aspect(s) of your product should your marketing emphasize?

As a MarketingExperiments blog reader, I can already assume a few things about you. You’re an evidence-based marketer. You are an effective communicator. You have an exceptional understanding of marketing. You are skilled at analyzing campaign effectiveness. And you have experience in a wide range of marketing disciplines.

But if you were pitching yourself at a job fair, and could emphasize only one of these elements about yourself, which would it be?

Savvy marketer that you are, I’m guessing you would first size up the company you’re applying to — ask questions of the recruiter, take a look at the booth and read some of the literature — before deciding what value to highlight when presenting yourself.

The way you approach marketing your products and services should be no different.

 

Don’t bury the lead

Almost every product or service has several ways it benefits customers. Your challenge is to determine the value focus — which element of value will you lead with in your marketing.

You may highlight more than one element of value as secondary benefits on your website, in your print ads and in your email marketing. However, there likely is a place within your marketing where you have to choose what the primary value focus should be — the headline of your print ad, the hero space on your homepage or, perhaps, the entirety of an email.

Let me give you an example from my own customer journey.

 

Connect with customer motivation

I recently purchased a Nissan LEAF. In looking at other cars compared to the LEAF, the car I chose offered many elements of value that Nissan highlights on its website:

  • Save money when you use the car — The car is 100% electric, so, as Nissan’s site says, you will “Never Pay For Gas Again. #KickGas” Another benefit is lower maintenance costs since it doesn’t need oil changes, belts, etc.
  • Nerd out — The car has a certain appeal to early adopters, just because it is electric. Plus, you can access several features (like turning the A/C on to have the car cool down before you get in it) from an app or through a portal on a website using something called telematics. It also has one of those wireless keys that you keep in your pocket when you start the car. Nifty. One headline on Nissan’s microsite for the LEAF is “High-Tech. Low-Impact.”
  • 100% fun — This is from a Nissan tagline: “100% electric. 100% fun.” This is kind of hard to quantify since some people will have fun driving a 4×4 pickup truck through a muddy field, which is a very different experience than what the LEAF offers. But I do find the car fun to drive, almost like driving an iPhone.
  • Save the planet — Since it runs on electricity, the car does not pollute directly. In fact, Nissan stamps “Zero Emission” right on the side of the car.

    Photo: RACC

  • Performance — Some carmakers sell their cars by screaming about a HEMI or horsepower or overhead cams. Nissan promotes “100% torque, 100% fun.” Because it’s an electric car, the engine doesn’t have to rev and shift gears to accelerate. It has instant torque. Now I’m not a car guy, so I don’t really understand or care about what that means. But for driving on the highway, acceleration is important. And for a small car, it does accelerate quickly.
  • Safety — Again, it’s a smaller car, so safety could be a concern. It does have airbags all over the place — popping out of seats and the roof. Though this would seem to be an important issue to car buyers, I didn’t see any prominent mention of safety on Nissan’s microsite for the LEAF. 

These are just a few of the possible value elements that popped into my head. I’m sure there are many more.

When I was at the car lot, the salesman was able to size me up, ask me a few questions and determine my motivation. This meant he could easily pivot from one value focus to the other based on my responses.

Nissan has a bigger challenge on its microsite for the LEAF. Which points should it emphasize most prominently?

The path Nissan has taken at the top of its microsite is not to include a value focus at all. In fact, there isn’t even really a headline.

 

The closest thing to a headline is “2016 Nissan LEAF®.” This does serve to orient the visitor that they are on the right page, but it doesn’t present any value.

The other two major emphasized elements do not focus on the value either. Rather, before presenting value, the LEAF microsite communicates the cost (in this case, the starting price of its base S model) and an anxiety reducer (in this case, range anxiety, by highlighting how far the car can drive).

Below the fold, the microsite starts communicating value with a rotating animation of six banners (what used to be known as a Flash banner) listing different elements of value.

 

Simply put, Nissan has not chosen a value focus for the LEAF on this microsite. (This is not unique to the LEAF for Nissan; this microsite is a template it uses for all of its car models.)

Now, one could make the argument that visitors to this microsite are already so motivated that they don’t need any value communication and their bigger concerns are price and range anxiety.

However, even if they are already motivated, you should reinforce that value once they hit the site. After all, a car purchase is a major decision, and you want to keep driving them up the funnel. It’s also a way to let them know the LEAF is the car for them. “Hey, we understand you. You’re among friends.”

Also, there are likely many less motivated car buyers who are just kicking the tires on several cars, and thus visiting many car sites. By leading with value (and the right value focus), you have the opportunity to turn those few moments of interest into deeper research about the vehicle you’re selling.

If we take a look at the nearest competitor to the Nissan LEAF — the Tesla Model S — we can see that its landing page does lead with value. (It might be a stretch to consider these two models competitors due to the huge price discrepancy — and therefore, possibly differing motivations of its buyers — but they are the two best-selling all-electric cars in the U.S. and comprise 58% of all pure electric cars sold in the United States in 2015.)

 

Like the LEAF’s page, the headline is pure orientation — “Model S” — however, the copy below focuses on value such as “Highest Safety Rating in America” and “Autopilot with Autosteer and Summon.”

 

How to determine your product’s value focus for your marketing

We’ve discussed how it’s important to communicate value in your marketing. But how do you determine what the value focus should be? Here is a simple process to get you started:

Step #1. Understand the product

Effective marketing merely clarifies the value inherent in the product, so begin with the product itself. What elements of value does it provide to customers? If you weren’t involved with the product creation, talk to product developers, business analysts or business leaders who were. Then read professional ratings and customer reviews of your product to get an outside perspective on how well the product delivers on that intended value.

Step #2. Determine the persona

As I said above, there are many reasons to love a LEAF. If I were running a print ad about the car in “Organic Life” magazine, I would focus on the zero emissions and environmental/sustainability aspect. However, if I were writing an ad for “WIRED” magazine, I would focus on the techie/early adopter aspect. Your products likely has more than one customer segment. Before creating the messaging for a specific customer touchpoint, determine which segment or segments you will be communicating with.

Step #3. Ask the customer

Interview current and previous customers. Those who didn’t buy. And those who are just in the segment you’re targeting who may not even know about your product. Participate in forums and LinkedIn Groups that are popular with different customer segments. Talk to customer service, sales and other customer-facing positions in your organization. Read the magazines, blogs and Tumblrs that your ideal customers read, listen to their podcasts, and monitor their communication on social networks. Conduct focus groups. These are just some examples of ways you can ask customers what element of value most resonate with them.

Step #4. Test

The customer is always right. But the customer doesn’t always know what he wants. So it’s not enough to just ask your customers about value. This data simply helps you create hypotheses to test with real-world customers to see which value focuses generate the best response. Test value focus in your email. Test in your PPC ads. Identify elements of value that could be the most compelling value focus, and then run follow-up tests throughout the customer journey to discover how to best message that value focus.

 

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, @DanielBurstein.

 

You might also like

3 steps for laying your value prop testing groundwork

How to use social media to help discover why customers buy from you

Value Proposition Development  [Online course from MECLABS Institute]

 

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

It's plain to see that B2B marketers, at large, see the value in social media. The latest B2B benchmarking research from CMI and MarketingProfs found that nearly two out of three respondents (61%) increased their usage of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year. Another new report shows that social content is atop the list of focal areas for B2B marketers in the coming year.

It’s also fair to say, based on various data points and conversations with folks in the biz, that most of us feel we could be doing better with social. The size of the audiences on these platforms make them essential to any digital strategy, but breaking through suppressive algorithms and showing clear ROI is a perpetual challenge for brands.

One pivotal key to excelling with social media marketing is understanding all the tools you have at your disposal. Each platform offers a number of capabilities that seem to be underutilized by marketers who either don’t know they exist, or don’t fully recognize their potential impact.

With this in mind, we’re setting out to highlight some of the most useful yet overlooked features for driving results on social media platforms. Today we're focusing on the channel most pertinent to B2B marketers: LinkedIn*, with its member base of more than half a billion professionals.

Take Notice of These 5 Marketing Tools & Features on LinkedIn

Whether your goal is building brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting conversions, these five fundamental functionalities can provide a big assist if you aren't taking advantage of them already.

#1: Robust (and Now Simplified) Audience Targeting

LinkedIn recently overhauled its Campaign Manager tool (the interface through which marketers build, manage, and measure ads) around an objective-based advertising framework. The basic purpose of this initiative was to make it easier for users to align every element of their campaigns with the overarching objective. One of the slickest improvements to come out of this is the audience setup experience, which is now simpler and more intuitive.

From a B2B marketing perspective, the depth of available professional targeting parameters is by far LinkedIn’s biggest relative advantage compared to other social platforms. Nowhere else can you accurately filter audiences based on facets such as Job Title and Job Seniority. This provides unparalleled ability to reach decision makers and purchase influencers directly.

The revamped interface makes it quicker and more straightforward to select a qualified audience in line with your campaign goals.

[embed]https://youtu.be/AAx60JxxWFg[/embed]

#2: Revamped LinkedIn Analytics

The latest Social Media Marketing Industry Report via Social Media Examiner found more than half of respondents (54%) either uncertain or disagreeing that they are “able to measure the return on investment (ROI) for my organic social media activities.”

This is another area of Campaign Manager that LinkedIn recently spruced up. Given that advertising on this platform tends to be more expensive than other social networks, it’s especially important to ensure you’re getting return on that spend. The new reporting experience makes it easier to see results at a glance, and make optimization tweaks on the fly.

The underlying appeal of LinkedIn’s targeting facets also applies to its reporting mechanism; you can get an aggregated look at who is viewing and engaging with your content (i.e., which companies, which job titles, which experience levels). These insights can help you align your LinkedIn strategy and even your content marketing strategy more generally.

#3: Content Suggestions

Can’t figure out what to share on social media? That’s a common enough challenge. The Content Suggestions tab, found on the top nav bar within LinkedIn Page admin center, offers ample inspiration. It serves up a list of third-party articles your defined audience is engaging with — essentially a readily available stream of targeted, trending content.

Not only does this make it easy for marketers and social media managers to find share-worthy content that’s more likely to resonate with their followings, but it can also fuel employee advocacy efforts.

#4: Website Retargeting

Retargeting is a popular digital marketing tactic, which involves serving ads to people who’ve already encountered your brand. The element of familiarity, plus a concrete demonstration of past interest, tends to drive considerably higher clicks and conversions than standard ads.  

Through its Matched Audiences feature, LinkedIn allows you to place a pixel on your company’s website, then serve ads to people who’ve visited it before, while they’re on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to follow up with someone in a different context. One especially savvy approach is to create customized retargeting creative based on the specific section of your site a person visited (i.e., upper-funnel messaging for someone who went to your “About” page, and lower-funnel for someone who checked out a solution page.)

[embed]https://youtu.be/SgXlOH-1pPk[/embed]

#5: Lead Gen Forms

This might be my favorite marketing tool on LinkedIn, and it definitely seems like one that more B2B brands could be utilizing. Lead Gen Forms are leveraged in combination with various types of ads, enabling your company to collect valuable contact info (and additional data about a prospect) from an individual who downloads something of value with minimal friction.

Unlike most gated-asset forms, which require a user to tediously fill out multiple fields, Lead Gen Forms automatically populate based on the member’s LinkedIn profile data. As such, it takes only a couple of seconds to get through the process. Because you’re attaining a more comprehensive snapshot of people who download, you can better qualify them as leads in comparison with other form-fills that often procure only a name, phone number, and email.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34Xe1E59N6A&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Step Up Your LinkedIn Marketing Game

LinkedIn can be one of the most valuable components of a holistic B2B marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, there’s no denying it’s a pricier place to play than most other social networks, but you’re also paying for access to a higher-quality audience. Using the five features above can help you understand, segment, reach, and engage this audience efficiently while closely tracking the impact of your efforts.

Another underutilized tool on LinkedIn is video, which has been a key focus for the platform recently. Learn about all the metrics and specs for video on LinkedIn, as well as every other major social network!

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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