You are selling your business short. Every time your marketing messaging fails to effectively articulate your brand value to current and prospective customers, you are turning what should be a competitive advantage into a commodity—increasing the likelihood that they will make a purchase somewhere else.

The same marketing content and positioning that worked five years (or even five days) ago isn’t always enough to win over the hearts and minds of consumers who have an infinite amount of information and buying choices right at their fingertips.

It’s up to you to uncover what makes your business truly unique from all of the others in your market and communicate those differences to your target audience. If you don’t, all of your website content, brochures, social media posts, etc. will be off target and that will undermine your marketing effectiveness .

Avoid “The Curse of Knowledge”

Communicating brand value to customers is a major challenge for the majority of the businesses with whom we work. From our experience, most of the time it’s the result of “The Curse of Knowledge,” a concept referenced in Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die .

“Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.”

Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Authors of Made to Stick

In other words, when you know a lot about your business including your products and services, it’s often hard to think about what information might be most important through the eyes of your customer. As a result, organizations often stop short of providing the best mix of content.

What are your customers saying about you?

This is where customer feedback can be incredibly invaluable. When you are effectively communicating your brand value to customers, you’ll start to see that brand value being repeated back to you through their comments, feedback, and online reviews.

Ideally, there should be alignment between the brand values you’ve identified internally for your business and what you’re hearing from your existing customer base.

Get in the routine of regularly checking Yelp, Google and Amazon reviews, and any other review sites relevant to your industry to identify key themes and areas of opportunity.

Focus on marketing messaging and positioning

In most cases, adding some additional texture can make a huge difference. For example, if you are a chocolatier and there’s something special about the process of how you carefully hand dip every piece of chocolate or that you source your cocoa beans from Ecuador because of their superior taste, that’s something you would want your customers to know. If they don’t, that’s usually a sign that you haven’t done enough with your marketing content including your product descriptions and the images you’ve chosen to drive home those differences.

We also really like this example from Snake River Farms. Notice the subtle touches and features that help to justify paying $119 for a steak—“hand-cut,” “generous cut about 2” thick,” “include the coveted cap of ribeye,” “amazing in appearance,” “incredibly delicious,” ”ultimate steak.” They could have just as easily mailed it in and included a short product description you might expect to find at your local grocery store but instead they took the extra time to “show” their brand value with their product description and, as a result, they have us ready to fire up the grill.

Although both examples above focused on food, the critical importance of brand value isn’t just limited to retail and restaurants. It also applies to every customer-facing B2B and B2C business. Features are often easier to articulate than benefits, but both are absolutely crucial. If you’re unsure or want more validation, use it as an opportunity to engage your customers and uncover what value, features, and benefits they believe your products and services offer.

Know your competition

We also recommend looking at a small group of key competitors. That way you can have an apples-to-apples comparison of how your marketing messaging stacks up. This is something we do as part of our marketing engagements and, in every case, there’s been a business out there that is doing a much better job of communicating their brand value.

It’s obvious they’ve spent the time thinking strategically about their unique value proposition and brand value and then carried that through with all of their messaging and positioning.

Don’t assume customers know your brand value

They usually aren’t going to know what’s special about your process or whether you’re sourcing your cacao beans from Ecuador unless you tell them. Even when you do, it might not be clear why that information matters unless you draw a direct line between your marketing messaging and your brand value.

Good or bad, people are going to make their purchasing decisions due in large part to the information you share (or don’t share). If you’re able to capture the essence of your brand value and do it more effectively than your competitors, that’s when your marketing will start to generate real value.

Where to start

If you haven’t read Made to Stick, we highly recommend it. The book is chock-full of information and examples on how to communicate your ideas in a way that will get people to think and act—all of which ties back to articulating your brand value. There are also a number of articles that take a more detailed look at defining brand value. Finally, we’re always happy to share our insights on how to best articulate your brand value. Send us a note.