Here at Because, we've spent years researching the power of a social mission in business. We've talked to and researched companies of all different sizes, across all different industries, about their challenges, successes, and tips for better reaching their customers. The resounding answer from our research has been surprisingly simple: Don’t just market your product. Market your social value.
Think about it. Why do we continue to lead our marketing pitches with all the amazing different features and value adds of our product, even when it’s often not helping our customer conversion and retention?
If you feel frustrated by your ability to consistently win and retain your customers by communicating only your product value, it’s probably because your missing your social value.
You’re missing your “why”.
Why did you create your company? Why do you continue to operate/work at your company? Even if your answers for these two questions right now is your product value, don’t worry you’re not alone.
We so often get stuck in “feature battles” to show our value over competitors- or “feature cramming” to communicate every single feature we offer to our customers, and why it will change their lives, that we forget what our customers even care about outside of our product.
Communication has become so easy that we’ve over saturated our prospects with emails, LinkedIn messages, and phone calls disguised to appear local. We have hit a major saturation point in our age of selling where unfortunately, our customers just aren’t listening anymore.
Data from ConstantContact and MailChimp shows that the average click through rates on business emails are around 2.5%.
And cold calling isn’t any better.
On average, only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment. According to Ovation Sales Group, the average salesperson prospects 6.25 hours to set one appointment. Then, only around 6% of those will convert to closed deals.
In order to be productive our prospects must protect themselves from the hundreds of daily pitches coming their way. Want proof?
Try this test – give yourself a LinkedIn promotion. Pick a company name, make yourself the President/CEO, and wait…
Even if you don’t take on that challenge, I’m sure you understand this feeling as well- even just being a consumer. And if you’re a consumer and a buyer in the B2B market, then you are literally getting spammed on a daily basis.
Your customers feel the same way.
It isn’t personal and in many cases it isn’t even a choice – we’ve forced them to have extremely selective hearing nowadays. We can yell and scream our product value, but most of the time, they won’t hear it.
It’s kind of like trying to get your teenage daughter’s attention when she has her headphones in and she’s texting like her life depends on it :)
It has never been easier to contact a prospect and never has it been harder to earn their attention. These statistics show us that our customers are crying for us to change our selling strategies. But, then why do so many of us feel like there’s no better option?
The question we need to be asking is:
How do we get our customers to listen again?
Find your company's social value and authentically communicate it.
Now more than ever, it is absolutely vital that we evoke a positive emotion from our brand messaging and connect with our customers on a deeper level than product value in order to find success in the conversion and retention process.
But to give you some solace, the good thing is that it’s never too late to adopt a great social mission to accomplish this.
Think about it, if your customers aren’t even listening at all- if they are deleting your emails as fast as their fingers can move (which most sadly are ☹) - does pushing more features at them seem like the best option?
Instead, you have to first,
- Open their ears by showing them, telling them, and reminding them, through authentic messaging and creative, but convenient channels, of your why. And then,
- Swoop in with your awesome product value at just the right time.
We have to stop controlling the conversation to what we want to talk about. Instead, we need to start talking about what they want to talk about. We need to support the causes they support.
Acknowledge and appreciate your customers by building a relationship, and you will earn their business and, more importantly, you’ll keep it.
Show your customer your company stands for a greater value than just the value of your product/service.
Now, I’m not saying you should stop selling the value of your product- communicating the value of your solution is immensely important in a customer’s buying decision. However, it is not the only thing that is important, and not the best value to lead with anymore to get their attention.
How important is social value to buyers?
A recent study revealed that 91% of global buyers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality.
Folks, your “features” aren’t enough anymore!
50% of global buyers said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services.
Having a social mission is also especially important for those of us who are selling to millennials... and even those of you who don’t think you’re selling to millennials, you may want to look again at the data and see if your buyers are quickly changing like most are.
More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 20 to 36 in 2017). And in 2015, the millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
If you’re selling B2B (especially enterprise), you need to keep in mind that Millennials are having a huge impact on buying decisions.
If you look at research from Google, the C-Suite have Final Authority on 64% of decisions. But layer on Non C-Suite Decision making and you can see that non C-Suite can have influence on 81% of Purchase Decisions.
Often, the C-Suite have signed off an overall project budget, but the components of that project are passed / delegated down the organization to “people in the know”. Based on Google’s research, 48% of these “people in the know” are 18- 34, and 24% are 35- 44.
This is placing B2B Enterprise decisions in the hands of the Millennials.
If so much of our workforce and our buyers are now millennials, then we need to know what they care about, right?
84% of employed millennials make a charitable donation. And, 43% of buyers find it easier to contribute to the causes they care about through a business program than giving to the charity directly.
Data from The American Marketing Association tells us that millennials represent $2.45 trillion in spending power (Adweek report), and according to Omnicom Group’s Cone Communications, 70% of them will spend more on brands supporting causes they care about.
Plus, they are 60% more likely to engage with brands that discuss social causes.
In order to convert more prospects to customers and keep them happy you have to give them more to rally behind than you’re slick UI.
These statistics tell us that to really take control of our customer conversion and retention, we need our customers to be rallied behind more than just our product features when decisions are being made.
We need to get our customers to rally behind our cause.
So, why is it more powerful to communicate your social value before your product value?
Let me give you an example of the difference between communicating your product value versus your social value through an interesting company, THINX, to explain:
Their product value looks like this:
"Our organ cotton underwear lets you replace pads and tampons during your period to be more comfortable and have an easier period" (paraphrased).
But their social value looks like this:
"Through our THINX Foundation, we’re goona tackle (and achieve!) the big 3:
- Educate & empower girls and women;
- Eliminate shame associated with menstruation and women’s health;
- Lower our carbon footprint by committing to reusable products.
For every pair of THINX underwear you purchase, you directly support our partnership with AFRIpads, a social business in Uganda to provide jobs to local women to manufacture and sell cost-effective cloth sanitary pads to schoolgirls in surrounding areas.
Your support also helps our Global Girls Clubs, where we offer a 6-month educational program for girls age 12 to 18, using a curriculum focused on human rights, sexual & reproductive health, and financial literacy & entrepreneurship".
There’s a major difference between these two values.
Product versus social.
Although the THINX product value communicates great value, it still competes directly with the messaging of their competitor’s products and may not always stand out enough to grab their customer’s attention among the millions of other marketing messages they’re seeing.
So, they need more than just product value.
Luckily, THINX has already adopted a great social mission that will help them continuously thrive among their competitors and most importantly, keep their customer’s ears open.
The social value THINX is creating is so much greater than their product value alone.
Let’s look at some of the things they are doing well with their social mission:
- Clear audience. They use phrases like “menstruating humans” in a lot of their messaging to purposely communicate their social value to a broader base of followers than just women. They know who their audience is and are careful not to alienate.
- Differentiation. THINX is one of the first women’s hygiene companies to come out and take a strong stance on a social mission like theirs. Especially juxtaposed to the many commercials and messaging that encourages women to shove the topic under the rug, THINX is encouraging conversation. Also, their mission is carried out through new differentiated programs and partnerships; it is more than just a singular model everyone knows like Tom’s “buy one, give one” promise.
- Concrete promises. In addition to the social value of the conversation they are creating, THINX has an even greater mission to empower people around the world to take back control of their bodies on a traditionally taboo topic. They accomplish this through concrete partnerships and programs that have a measurable impact.
THINX’s social value resonates with their customers before they even communicate what their product does. Then, their customers are captive and ready to listen to their product value because they believe in and trust what they stand for.
That's the power of communicating your social value before your product value.