Creative marketing organizations go beyond simply communicating the value they provide. They add value outside the product or service, through content, community, partnerships, and data.”
These words seemed almost revolutionary when I wrote them in the book Subscription Marketing. But look around and you can find numerous examples of businesses demonstrating that, when done with a clear focus on the customer needs, marketing itself adds value to the solution.
That’s right, marketing is not all about driving the initial sale. When marketing adds value beyond the solution being pitched, it gives customers a reason to keep coming back (renewing). They might even refer your business to others, driving new sales. These strategies belong to a larger category of value nurturing activities that belong in the marketing domain and beyond.
How can marketers add value beyond the service or thing being sold?
- Create and share valuable content after the sale as well as before
- Share data with customers
- Create and nurture customer communities
This is the first in an occasional series of blog posts sharing examples of value nurturing plucked from the headlines and my email inbox. We’ll start with the practice of adding value through content. For a brilliant example of value nurturing with video, watch Adobe’s “Bob Ross” videos.
Videos that Teach, Inspire, and Entertain
If you’re of a certain age, you may remember “The Joy of Painting” series on PBS. The host, Bob Ross, was an unrelentingly cheerful guide to painting, chatting with the viewer as he dabbled paint onto canvas. (Bob Ross himself has been gone for decades, but his impact lives on; see BobRoss.com.)
Ross made painting look fun, easy, and low-risk. “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents,” he’d say, transforming an unintentional blotch into a majestic pine. His landscapes appeared miraculously from blank canvas, populated with “happy little trees” and towering mountains.
The show inspired many people to find their inner artists, including some who work at Adobe today. Many more Bob Ross fans no doubt use Adobe’s Photoshop software.
Adobe created a video series with someone acting the role of Bob Ross demonstrating the Adobe Photoshop Sketch application, creating landscapes on a tablet instead of a canvas. The videos are filled with things that Bob Ross might have said: for example, the software comes from “the happy little cloud.”
The videos feel like an affectionate tribute; Adobe calls them an educational homage. From the faux Bob Ross to the producers, everyone involved loved the original show. Read this article from Adobe on the background of the series.
As a tactic for nurturing the sense of value in current customers, this is a triple-winner, enhancing the customer’s experience of value in multiple ways ways:
- Helping customers find success with the solution. Watching the video gives customers a better idea of how to use the Sketch application, so that they can derive more value from it.
- Adding value through content. The content is entertaining to watch – extra value for Sketch customers.
- Nurturing a sense of community. The videos reinforce a sense of shared interests and community for Adobe’s customer and prospects that watched “The Joy of Painting.” The sense of community strengthens the customer’s connection to the software, and the value of being a customer.
For a quick tour of strategies from the Subscription Marketing book, download the value nurturing checklist. For more detailed examples, read the book. And if you see great examples in the wild, please send them on.