Showing Shared Values to a Marketing Audience
One mistake that B2B marketers make when trying to relate to their audience on the level of shared values, is just shouting out the values they hold. Marketers sometimes expect or assume the reader or viewer will do the work of agreeing and filling in the meaning for themselves.
WE VALUE PROVIDING EXCELLENT SERVICE screams the headline of your website, but what does that mean to the person coming to your website? To them EXCELLENT SERVICE is just one more buzzword they see all over the Internet. Providing a definition of what that really means might be a challenge for your audience. It’s also possible what you mean by SERVICE or EXCELLENCE might not be what some readers need or expect.
THIS IS HOW BAD THINGS HAPPEN
Okay, enough with the caps lock. Let’s talk more about conveying shared values with your marketing audience, and why a different approach than just talking about yourself and what you value is essential to establish shared context in marketing.
Common B2B Marketing Audience Shared Values
If you don’t know what values you share with your audience, it’s as easy as starting with what you know about them based on your geography and industry sector, plus other elements of the marketing personas you’ve created. This list of basic shared values in American culture is a safe place to start for most of our readers:
- Control over the environment and processes that affect our roles
- Change that results in upward mobility and better outcomes
- Efficient progress toward goals and mission
- Individual empowerment and independence
- Practical self-help opportunities
- Transparency and honesty with a humble approach
Does one or more of these statements already sound like your B2B brand’s value propositions? If so, you’re already making great steps to showing shared values to your audience. If not, that’s also a valuable insight, because you know where your message differs, and where you might need to create shared ground in messaging.
As I said in the intro, simply telling your audience you want to help them with these things and are aware of them isn’t enough. We don’t really believe most of the things we are told these days, at least not at first hearing. So why should your audience believe you when you say that you understand their pain? The answer is based on the stories you tell them about yourself.
How to Talk About Shared Values in B2B Marketing
During our processes of working with clients to help them with B2B marketing, we hear a lot of anecdotes about why businesses have the values they do. When you say you value EXCELLENT SERVICE it’s because you’ve spent years or decades learning the ropes of serving your clients, and you really do know what they need. And chances are, there is at least one anecdote you share with prospects, clients, and at networking events to describe how you came to value EXCELLENT SERVICE. Maybe there are dozens!
If those stories haven’t made their way in some form to your content marketing, you’re missing out on telling the full story of your values to your audience. Brands may feel safer hiding behind the curtain, like the Wizard of Oz, speaking to their audiences like the terrified Dorothy and her friends, the desperate crew in search of a solution. If all you ever do is look great and powerful, never showing your vulnerability and emotion to audiences, you’re going to end up with a world full of people that are scared of you and don’t feel like they can approach you to ask for any help at all. That might sound great for a hermit, but for a business, it’s a fast track to marketing content failure.
Ultimately, the way to show shared values to your audiences in content marketing is to share your stories, and to speak to their stories in a way they can connect with. Don’t just say “we will make your life easier.” Describe it, and help the reader see themselves living a life where they are partnered with your brand…and they feel closer to their values because of it.
If you want some writing strategies to put this thought into action and need practical advice about how to write content that is value-forward, download our Campfire Content e-Book. This contains practical insight about emotional vs professional language, how to understand your reader’s perspective, and other essential steps to make sure your marketing is happening in the right shared context with audiences.