Most marketing blogs, books, podcasts, courses and webinars now stress the importance of ‘adding value’ through your content.
Far from being just the latest marketing jargon, ‘adding value’ to your audience is one of the quickest ways to turn your readers into fans and browsers into customers.
But what does ‘adding value’ mean and how can you do it?
Here are a couple of basics first, as we’ll use these terms throughout this post.
Content = any communication you produce within or about your business. Content can be a blog, the words and images on your website, a Facebook post, or Instagram photo and caption. If you write it, publish it or print it, it’s content.
Value = when it comes to content marketing (or indeed, any marketing), value is all about your reader/customer. What adds value to their lives, not what adds value to yours.
How to add value – a worked example
Value from your perspective
Imagine you are a potter. You make beautiful plates. Lovingly hand-made, these plates are works of art. The kind of plate that makes dinner guests ask where they were purchased.
The basic content you will produce in order to sell your plates might include:
- A webpage with photographs of your plates and their prices
- A series of photographs of your plates for Instagram with links to a sales page
- Promotions or special offers (buy three plates, get the fourth free, or discount codes)
- A description of how you make the plates, how long it takes, and how each is slightly unique
This type of content is useful. It gives people the information they need once they have decided to buy YOUR plate.
But it doesn’t help them make that decision to choose your plate. After all, you are unlikely to be the only person who sells plates.
This type of content is produced purely from your perspective. It’s the information you need to put out to meet your goal of making a sale.
Value from their perspective
To add value, you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What do they want and need?
To continue with the plate example…
If your target customer just wants a set of plates they could go to any high street shop or online marketplace and buy a set of basic white plates that do the job.
A customer who wants a set of hand-thrown, beautiful artisan plates is looking for more than just a functional plate. So you could assume the following about them:
- Meal times aren’t just about meeting basic needs (eating food) but about ritual
- They like to entertain (these plates are meant for showing off)
These two pieces of information are your starting point for adding value to your customer, building a relationship with them (trust) and moving closer to the point where they choose your plates (because remember, at this point they still have other options).
The value-adding content
When you know what your customer wants, you can guess their pain points. In our plate example, our customer likes to entertain and the ritual of mealtimes. So their pain points, the things that they spend time thinking about or searching for the answer to, might include:
- What to cook for a dinner party
- What flower arrangements look best on a dining table in different seasons
- How to dress a table for different types of occasion or holiday season
If you produce content around these concerns, you show your customer that you understand them…and that you can help.
What would this actually look like in terms of content? Here are a few ideas:
- Write a blog or website content that teaches people how to lay a beautiful table for a dinner party (you can make multiple versions of this, perhaps posting a new one each season or whenever you introduce a new plate design). It goes without saying that your plates take centre stage in these posts. You are showing people how your plates are a key part of achieving their dream dinner parties.
- Rather than just showing a picture of your plate on Instagram, show your plate as part of a beautifully decorated table (and link through to your blog/website article on how they can recreate it).
- Create a step-by-step guide to hosting the perfect dinner party (menu ideas, table layout, schedule for the day). Ask people to sign up in order to receive the guide. In this exchange you get something (email addresses that you can use to send newsletters, special offers, etc.) and they get a handy guide.
- Ask your local florist to do a guest post on how to choose flowers and the perfect arrangements for different budgets and events.
This content still showcases your product, but also adds value to their lives – making you the place they come back to for more than just your plates.
Now it’s your turn
Think about your customer. What are their issues in relation to your product or service? How can you offer advice, guidance, tips or hacks to make their lives easier or their dreams more attainable?
What could you post today that helps them?
Have you tried this approach before? What has worked and what hasn’t? We’d love to hear your experiences either below or over on our Facebook page.
Lucy and Emma | The Communication Coaches