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Values-Driven Marketing: Aligning With Customers’ Values

Shivkumar M Shivkumar M has over 20 years of experience shaping technology product and GTM strategy. With B2B SaaS expertise across industries, he leads product launches, adoption, and GTM as Director of Product Marketing.
Values-Driven Marketing: Aligning With Customers’ Values

It’s no longer enough for marketers to simply advertise the benefits of their products or services — in fact it could be argued that it was never enough! Marketers need to connect with customers on a deeper level, by aligning with them. In this context, it’s important for brands to understand that customers make decisions based on their values. By recognizing and then leveraging the values that drive consumer behavior, businesses can create more meaningful relationships with customers and build brand loyalty.

To explore the concept of values-driven marketing in greater detail, we hosted a panel discussion for ZeeMELT where we had the distinct pleasure of talking with:

  • Pearl Servat, Head of Marketing at Wedgewood Pharmacy, the largest custom compounding pet pharmacy in the United States
  • Hunter Bulkeley, Game Manager at Tilting Point, one of the fastest growing Free to Play game publishers in the world
  • David Allison, author and speaker on Valuegraphics, the project he launched in 2015 mapping out how values inform human decision-making

Below is a summary of the panel and takeaways that benefit all marketers.

Why Even Talk About Values?

David Allison shared that every decision is driven by our values. As marketers, the challenge is discovering the values that drive decisions so we can learn how to influence the decisions of our customers and prospects make.

Thankfully, there are ways to unlock this. With work such as Allison’s Valuegraphics project, values can be analyzed as data points, allowing us to study and understand customers not just based on demographics but also “based on what’s in their heart and what truly resonates with them as people.”

Allison said we’ve left the experience economy behind — where building experiences creates economic value for a brand — and have now entered into the values economy, where understanding human values creates economic value.

What Do Pet Parents Really Value?

What do pet parents value? illustration of a pet owner and her values

Wedgewood Pharmacy, a leader in custom compounding for pets, has been evolving from being a B2B brand — for the past 40+ years, their brand has been highly trusted by the veterinarian community — into a more direct to consumer brand. They plan to leverage content and thought leadership partnerships with veterinarians to educate consumers and bring them closer to the brand. They are protective of their reputation, which was built through close alignment and relationships with the veterinarian community and plan to focus on education around custom compounded medications and the value proposition for them.

Servat noted that in her company’s role — selling medications to pet owners — they understand the values that their customers share. For example, many pets are treated as family members.

She said that analyzing values rather than just demographics or psychographics is crucial for targeted marketing. While demographics allow marketing to cast a wider net — particularly when launching a new brand — Valuegraphics can do even more. She noted that “it’s the Valuegraphics I’m really jazzed about because it really allows you to have a personal dialogue and one-to-one interactions with both your prospects and customers.”

During the session, Allison took Valuegraphics data on pet parents in the U.S. who fill prescriptions and found that what they really value are three things:

  • Loyalty – which makes sense since Wedgewood Pharmacy, over the course of 40+ years has supported veterinarian communities and partners. In their brand bio, it states that they’re used by nearly 90% of vets in the U.S. despite massive competition.
  • Balance – which reflects in the fact that medicine brings back balance and health to the sick
  • Tradition – which also makes sense, since these customer are dealing with the idea of a pharmacy as an institution that has lasted over many years

How Do You Incorporate These Values Into Your Campaigns?

With these three values out in the open, one strategy is to build campaigns that showcase what the brand has done for its target communities. Tell stories about how the brand has supported veterinarian partners through the years, and how it’s a dependable choice amidst the competition. That hits peoples’ values related to loyalty and tradition.

Servat also noted that it’s crucial to never lose sight of the brand’s mission and vision while implementing your marketing campaigns.

On balance, she added: “When it comes to balance, don’t over promise to the consumer, right? Know exactly what you’re good at, which is what I’m really proud of with Wedgewood Pharmacy — we know what we can do really, really well. And we don’t try to be everything to everyone, which is really critical.”

What Do Gamers Really Value?

What do gamers value? Illustration of a gaming app user and his values

Bulkeley talked about launching a city-builder game set on Mars and explained that deciding on the core pillars (or core values) of the game — namely survival, creativity, and curiosity — influenced the type of audience they’re trying to attract.

Bulkeley shared that sometimes, assumptions about the values or core pillars of a game’s audience can be wrong, leading to incorrect decisions.

Once again, Allison took Valuegraphics data but this time for Star Trek Timelines gamers in the EU and discovered that what they really value are three things:

  • Social standing – these players want everybody to know where they are in the pecking order
  • Ambition – these players want to make sure they’re moving forward and leveling up in a really big way
  • Self-expression – which is not creativity, but wanting an opportunity to communicate what they’re about

How Do You Incorporate These Values Into Your Campaigns?

With these three values dissected, one strategy would be to use marketing copy such as “Top the Leaderboard” or “Be #1 on your server” to appeal to the social standing and ambition values that their players resonate with.

Another would be to showcase the amount of personalization available within the game — to appeal to those who prioritize self expression above other values.

Bulkeley shared that these values, while not surprising, are sometimes forgotten by a brand in the hurry to improve the game. But once it’s expressed, it should be top of mind. About these values, he said: “It’s about communicating them across the team across all the verticals, and making sure that they’re the thing in everyone’s head and in every single discussion you’re having.”

Bringing It All Together

Servat emphasized the importance of values-driven marketing that goes beyond just brand voice and marketing tactics. She argued that it should be measurable and tangible, and customers should be able to see and feel the loyalty from the brand.

Bulkeley added: “You can tell the companies that are really value-driven by how you interact with them. For example, Leanplum is now part of CleverTap, and I work with them a lot. One of the reasons I like them is because their customer support people get back to me in an hour. Ten minutes, sometimes… And that shows you really do value your customers first, putting them before anyone else.”

Servat explained that in their industry, competitors have tried to cut out veterinarians from the equation, which has left them disgruntled. To combat this, their company has doubled down on their values and made it a part of their DNA, including discussions about tradition and loyalty throughout the entire company, from communication with partners to engagement with their advisory board. She said that marketing is just one element of the bigger picture and that the brand’s actions need to match their marketing for customers to resonate with their values.

Allison ended the discussion with a top tip: ask your customers the right questions. While marketers always ask demographics or psychographics questions because we need to understand basic facts like salary, job title, and gender, we never get to the important questions.

He shared: “We never asked them: What’s going on in their life? How do you feel today? What’s the last thing you thought about before you fell asleep last night and the first thing on your mind this morning? What makes you who you are? We never ask those questions. And after all, that’s how people are going to make decisions about things. So that’s where we need to get to. We need to start thinking about people as humans. Prospects don’t care about demographics. Only marketers do.”

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