Probably the most important question in all marketing – posited by Tony Stead in 1986 – is ‘And why would the customers do what we would like them to do?’ Why would they give us the luxury of their attention, additional time to research and compare us, to give us their data, to buy – and then to buy again?
Think of this situation: you are asking a prospect to register for your email newsletter in order to stay in touch with them and to able to warm them up enough so it leads to the first (and repeat) sale. Why would they do that? What are you offering in exchange: is your email newsletter really so good that it will be enough? Are you sure?
The concept that strategically deals with answering this question is called the ‘Value Exchange’ (VE). By applying it, we don’t leave anything to chance and we optimise the value we get from every touchpoint across the customer journey in which we meet the prospects of the customer. In some instances, such as generating leads and subscriptions for our marketing programmes – as well as more of the ‘opt in’ consent clauses for further marketing communication – it is essential!
VE is the concept behind great ‘lead magnets’ (lead generation content such as reports, assessment tools, free webinars etc.), data capture, CRM and Content Marketing. It is an essential part of a marketing strategy.
What could be a good VE? Marketing practice has percolated about a half a dozen of approaches that are proven to work in practice, as broader principles that could be expressed in many different ways – as it suits the business and creative sensibilities and needs of both customers and company.
1. YOU ARE GIVING ME SOMETHING PERSONALLY RELEVANT
It should reflect the circumstances of the customer segment. Examples are: a guide through a complex topic; research report with relevant statistics; help with the first 100 days on a new job; scientific advice for new mums on the first year in baby’s life, week by week; a community of other people interested in the same topic. In other words, anything that reflects personal interests and preferences of the customer.
2. YOU ARE GIVING ME SOMETHING USEFUL
Connected with the above, but even more focused on usefulness, especially guides, tools, checklists, dictionaries, link libraries, simulations, quizzes-assessment tools, calculators and various other useful formats.
3. YOU ARE GIVING ME SOMETHING DISCOUNTED OR FREE
Anything that is in our regular portfolio, but with a better monetary value. Financial saving is a key here.
4. YOU ARE GIVING ME SOMETHING EXCLUSIVE, THAT MONEY CAN’T BUY
Exclusivity, prestige and status are a powerful VE. That could be access to a VIP club, exclusive panel of ‘super-users’ or having a chance to win something that can’t be bought. Planet Hollywood chain of restaurants had a great CRM and loyalty idea of regular prize draws – only for the members of their email club – where members could win original props from various blockbuster films.
5. YOU ARE GIVING ME SOMETHING THAT I CAN SHARE WITH OTHERS
This is the ‘social currency’ approach: we give people something that is enjoyed in a group (either as a group discount) or something that could generate social prestige (especially in social media) by being shared as a piece of cool contact. It may help customer feel more ‘in the know’, having ‘inside knowledge’ or exclusive access to otherwise not easily obtainable content. It could also be just entertaining or funny.
6. YOU ARE GIVING ME SOMETHING THAT WOULD HELP ME UNLOCK ADDITIONAL FEATURES OF THE PRODUCT/SERVICE I JUST BOUGHT, OR THAT I CAN USE IT BETTER
This could be unlocking new levels or features of a digital product in exchange for some additional data, or maybe an onboarding or training programme, or a guide how to set it up or get up to speed with advanced features. Usually, additional warranties fall into this category too.
7. YOU ARE GIVING ME SOMETHING INTERESTING OR ENTERTAINING
Probably the most usual type of attempted VE. I deliberately used the word ‘attempted’ as being interesting or entertaining is one of the most difficult things in the world! That is why other types of VE usually work better, especially in B2B, but when entertaining is done brilliantly it almost becomes the force of nature and generates a ‘viral’ effect, too. Pepsi Max UK’s ‘Unbeliveable’ YouTube channel is an example of that, warranting subscription.
‘Value Exchange’ is a concept that is largely done intuitively, as marketers are consumers themselves and understand that something always has to be exchanged for something whenever we ask consumers to behave in ways that benefit the company. The VE concept allows us to plan that in a strategic and more effective way.