Have you aligned your brand with your highest and most closely-held values? Does your brand target its ideal customer based on a specific set of beliefs or causes? If the answer is yes, then you’re engaging in values-based marketing.
Values-based marketing happens when a brand connects with its audience based on shared values. It’s an outward-focused strategy fueled by authenticity and focused on doing good in the world. Beyond what a brand sells, values-based marketing seeks to resonate with its target audience on closely-held social and ethical issues.
So what is values-based marketing? How can you make your brand’s core values part of your marketing strategy? Let’s find out.
What is Values-Based Marketing?
Values-based marketing is a marketing strategy that appeals to your customers’ values and ethics. The strategy focuses on making a genuine connection with the customer beyond interest in a product or service. It forges a deep bond between brand and customer. When brands and their followers share values and act on them, they make the world a better place.
A values-based marketing strategy can help your brand establish greater trust with consumers. When you deliver on the promises you make through your marketing, you establish that you’ll actually practice what you preach. People are passionate about the causes they support and the values they hold dear. If your brand resonates with them in a powerful way, they’ll be eager to engage with you and spread the word.
A wide variety of companies, including TOMS Shoes, Whole Foods Market, Kashi, Patagonia, and many more, are known for their values-based approach to engaging their audiences. Whether your business values sustainable energy, organically grown food, donating necessities to people in need, or taking a vocal stance against racism, you can weave those values into your content across all platforms.
How Can Values-Based Marketing Help Your Business?
The world is noisy and crowded these days, with a constant stream of branded media and marketing campaigns. Consumers can easily spot empty claims and manipulative sales tactics. They’re quick to break from brands, influencers, and personalities who don’t deliver on their promises, offering only gated content and sales pitches with no real education.
Demonstrating values-based marketing–and actually living those values–will help you build trust with your audience. An audience that trusts your brand will, in turn, send their friends and family to you through word of mouth. You will not only gain loyal followers; they will bring other loyal followers with them.
In order for your brand to stand the test of time, you must have loyal, engaged followers who are excited to share your message, products, and services with their friends. A values-based strategy can help you resonate with your target audience and keep your followers engaged for the long-term.
What Do Customers Look for in Values-Based Marketing?
There are a number of attributes that customers look for in brands that practice values-based marketing. Some of these include:
- Familiar value systems that they instinctively align with based on their own experiences
- An authentic position that shows the business truly believes in the values they project
- Decisions and follow-through by the brand that prove they truly hold these values close
- Meaningful interactions with brand representatives that solidify the customer’s overarching relationship with the brand
- Support for specific organizations and causes that your audience can get behind
Consumers focus on authenticity-based brand loyalty, now more than in the past. If a brand stays true to its message, mission, and values, consumers value this. As a result, their loyalty to the brand factors into the decision to purchase its products and services. Many Millennial and Gen Z consumers even say they’re more willing to spend more money with businesses that align with their values than with those that don’t.
How Do You Pivot to Values-Based Marketing?
Think values-based marketing might be the right direction for your brand to go? In order to pivot your brand strategy to include values-based marketing, start by doing the following:
- Define (or redefine) your brand’s core values
- Revisit your target audience; they will define how you communicate your values going forward
- Study competitors and brands you resonate to get a better idea for how they’re executing their own values-based marketing strategies
- Adapt your strategy as you identify your core brand values
Like any other strategy, you’ll need to test variations of your approach and keep an eye on your engagement and analytics. Pay attention to the strategies and types of communication that resonate most with your audience. Then, replicate that approach.
Elements of an Effective Values-Based Marketing Strategy
An effective values-based marketing strategy is multi-faceted and resonates with audiences on multiple levels. Your values are at the heart of this strategy, so each piece element must align with those values or you’ll risk hurting your customers’ trust.
Some example elements of a values-based marketing strategy include:
- Simple, inspiring messaging that clearly communicates what you value
- Strong visual storytelling that supports the narrative you’re building
- Emphasis on connection and shared storytelling
- Strong emphasis on social sharing and user-generated content
- Emphasis on overarching macro issues (social issues, charitable causes, etc.) while encouraging micro-actions from your audience
Once you’ve incorporated those elements into your strategy–as well as any others you deem appropriate–follow up by sharing the results. Having your audience share content that includes their own actions will help spread the message and draw in more followers.
Values-based marketing brings your consumers to the forefront of your marketing campaigns, rather than your products or services. It’s a strategy that appeals to their most deeply-held values and builds a strong rapport between you and them.
Empty claims and gimmicky advertising overwhelm modern consumers. Therefore, they’re quick to dismiss brands whose values don’t resonate with theirs. They’re also eager to seek out brands that do embody their values. Some customers are even willing to spend more money with values-based brands they resonate with.
Once you’ve clearly defined your core values and determined how to best communicate them, demonstrate them consistently. As you earn your audience’s trust and engage with them based on your shared values, you’ll attract more loyal customers along the way.
Featured image via Quarta / shutterstock.com