Value Exchange

“Life is about choices.”

That’s what my fellow scout leader said to the young scout. We were standing in the middle of the West Virginia mountains in a campsite, discussing whether the scout would or would not go to his merit badge class. “You can choose either way, but the choice comes with different outcomes.” The scout went to the class.Value Exchange in Marketing

That’s the way in life isn’t it? We can choose a seemingly infinite number of options with just as many outcomes from those choices. How do people make such choices? Most often, based on value received. Or perceived.

This discussion took my thoughts to marketing (it’s an awful thing being in the woods and being so wired that a discussion between scouts makes you think of marketing). Business is about value exchange. No matter the size or type of commerce, it is a value exchange.

  • A lemonade stand – exchanges a buck or less for a possibly buggy, diluted beverage and the feeling and resulting smile that you’re helping a young entrepreneur.
  • A product purchase – exchanges the selling price for the promise (and hopefully, the reality) of solving some problem.
  • A social media site – exchanges data about you and your eyes on ads for access to odd memes and uncomfortable posts from former acquaintances.

Value exchanges are understood from our earliest experiences. The scout had a pretty good idea of the outcome if he did, or didn’t, go to his merit badge class. It’s true of consumers as well. Consumers weigh value exchanges all the time.

  • Is it worth the “chance” at $500 to respond to the survey?
  • Is it worth calling the number knowing they will be asking for all my contact information before I get any information I want?
  • Is it worth clicking the link and filling out a form knowing I am going to get all that email?
  • Is it worth walking into the store (will “I’m just looking” work or will I be hassled)?

Marketers need to consider the value exchange when developing campaigns. We must weigh our needs with those of the suspect. The Marketoonist nailed it with this toon.

This is one reason the correct use of online tools is so important to the sales process. While we want to identify the suspect and get them into our pipeline as a prospect, they want to get the information they want/need without a resulting hassle. In other words, it’s okay to provide value through information without making someone provide all their information.

One problem we face is the belief that our information is so important, why wouldn’t someone want to give us their entire life history?!?!? That’s not the case, though. People do scrutinize the value when asked to “trade” their information.

So don’t think like a business owner or sales manager when considering a value exchange in your marketing. Think like a cynical customer (I’m sure one comes to mind…maybe it’s you!). Make sure your value offer is worth that cynical customer’s time and information they trade. Do it right, and you may just reduce the cynicism in the world. Maybe…

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