Adopting a value-based marketing strategy (and incidentally a brief commentary on millennials)

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While major brands have long since pivoted to value-based marketing strategies: Nike (gender equality), Dove (body positivity), Patagonia (outdoor preservation/climate change), to name a few. Should publishers follow suit?

Publishers with even the most modest of budgets are producing important stories on sex trafficking, relief efforts, or immigration policies, the type of quality content that appeals to the value-based buyer (you may have heard millennials care about such things). Yet, why are some of the world’s finest truth-tellers, watchdogs, or integrity-seekers still burying the work they do behind strategies that no longer suit them and their potential customers?

As millennials infiltrate the global economy with their spending power, gone are the days where value-based marketing is a “risky” strategy. It’s not a part of a pie, because it is the whole damn cake. Here are 5 changes publishers should be making to shift their focus away from product-centric to value-based marketing.

Does your UI/UX support your mission statement?

If your mission statement includes being timely, why are your best articles not updated or showing outdated content? If your purpose is to be responsive and serve the community in which you operate, why does it take 48 hours to get a response to a Facebook message or a link to your site directs me to a 404 error? Often, we want to paint bold statements of who we are on our office walls or t-shirts and think our statements are lived out between people. But in the digital age, your statements are lived out online in hundreds of digital micro-experiences including in the marketing platforms you choose. Make sure you’re auditing the entire online UX, keeping your company values as your guide.

Your statement of benefits should change

For the seasoned magazine marketers among us, we are very familiar with a statement of benefits package, typically including a price or product reasoning. For example, “Sign up for X and save 70%!” Or, “Join now and get a 13th issue free!” But, in 2019, where are the purpose benefits stated? “As an established brand for nearly 20 years, we’ve always taken truth and objectivity in high regard, this year will be no different.” You’re seeing more nationals shift to highlighting their integrity (on any topic), it would bode well for other publishers to do the same.

(This is  not  an ad. Just a sample of a value-based marketing effort.)

(This is not an ad. Just a sample of a value-based marketing effort.)

Stop hiding behind poor design

While your stories are committed to truth and establishing your authority in key topics, your branding is conflating your message. The low grade quality of advertisements you allow, or worse those that you produce (!!!!), distract from your purpose and ability to invoke trust from your readers, millennial or not. Not to mention, hokey design reads as disingenuous and inauthentic, and if you want to truly want to scare future customers into their safe space, don’t even get me started on the value consumers place on authenticity.

Invest in quality content

I don’t think I can say it any better than Melissa says here, with the advice of “yes, that.”

Adhere to advertising best practices and hold yourself accountable.

As I mentioned earlier, the ads (yes, I recognize that ads pay the bills) could be detracting from your mission. Does it look like you’re trying to trick someone to click an ad? Are advertisements not correctly labeled as sponsored content? If so, your appearance to the consumer is not likely aligning with your company values. Treating advertising with higher hierarchies than content? Again, not likely aligning with your company values. Publishers should not allow their consumers to even entertain the idea that their ad practices are not executed with the highest level of integrity. Your ads and sponsored content practices can detract from your content in the eyes of the consumer. In summary, make sure you’re focusing on presenting your brand’s values in all consumer touchpoints.

With these adjustments (and likely a few more) publishers will be well on their way to marketing more effectively and appealing to their current and future customers. I’ll jump off my soapbox now that some may have said (as a millennial) I was too lazy to climb in the first place. Want to discuss more? Shoot me a note and let’s discuss! ashley@twentyfirstdigital.com