Value: Actionable ways for small businesses to bring it, get it, and show it in their advertising

Boy oh boy, it’s hard to get people to buy. Particularly during a year often described as “uncertain” and “unprecedented”—not words that typically get the cash flowing. So what are small businesses to do? They add value—not necessarily through advertising BOGOS and discounts that cost them money, but through maximizing what they already have.

Bringing Value

What brand is your vacuum cleaner? What color is it? Do you know? Do you care? If your brand is Dyson, then your answer was probably yes! Dyson enthusiasts spend hundreds on their sexy, silver-and-purple, high-performance, oh-my-God-life-changing stick vacuums because the brand’s value goes far beyond its ability to clean.

How can your business do that? Let your advertising focus not on the product itself, but what the product offers consumers, the “product of the product.” This idea is a super easy way for small businesses to boost their perceived value, without upping their expenses.

Not sure where to start? Here are four tried and tested products of products that you can apply to your small business model in different ways.

Feelings. Theme parks sell excitement. Insurance brokers sell peace-of-mind. And even though the time spent waiting in long lines or worried about your insurance far will be the bulk of the experience, we make our decision based solely on the value of the feeling.

Experiences. Starbucks in particular is incredible at this. For their customers, the value isn’t in the $4 frap; it’s in the atmosphere, the service, the Instagrammability (is that a word? It is now.) of their name hand-written on the cup.

Status. Cars are the go-to example for this. The difference between a BMW and a Nissan really isn’t a whole lot, but there is value in the clout associated with a luxury or muscle car that a standard consumer model can’t match. (On the opposite end, a used car offers the anti-status—financial value—which works just as well).

Results. This category is the bang-for-your-buck approach, the most straightforward value of any product or service, small business or otherwise. Does your vacuum clean? Does it make cleaning easier or faster? Dyson wins because their design and experience matches their results. The very best value you can give a consumer is the ability to stand behind your product promises.

Getting Value

Every small business needs to squeeze the most advertising value out of their limited time and budget. The simplest way to measure the value (apart from cost, of course), is to measure these four aspects:

  • Visibility: How many people see a single ad, and how often they see it
  • Saturation: How many other businesses are advertising in that space
  • Mileage: How long a single ad lasts before it expires or is replaced
  • Timeliness: How often you can change the ad, and how quickly it can get published

For example, digital advertising offers great value in visibility and timeliness, but because it’s a heavily saturated market with low mileage, it’s not a strong platform all by itself. A billboard or outdoor ad, on the other hand, is much less saturated because yours is the only ad that can be in that space, while a magazine ad offers more mileage because they get shared and remain in circulation for much longer than the month they’re printed.

Having Values

The very best value a small business can offer consumers is the ability to stand behind its advertising promises. While you certainly don’t have to write a manifesto, we always recommend writing down a few statements that represent your values as a small business. It gives both your customers and your employees something to believe in, and it adds integrity to your company name. The best part? It doesn’t cost a dime.

We gave Em’s values statement its own page on our site. It reflects not only our personal and company values, but also our voice and approach to creativity.