Providing 'Information of Value'
Builds Relationships and Trust

The best way to penetrate the minds and hearts of your customers is a marketing strategy that gives them the information they crave.

By Amy Campbell

When you build your marketing strategy around "information of value" you position yourself or your firm as an expert — a helpful expert — a real "go-to" girl or guy. The "show don't tell" philosophy is at work here. The claim that "We're the greatest firm since sliced bread!" is hollow in comparison to a booklet on "5 Simple Tax Savers Many Businesses Overlook," for example. People will soon forget the hollow claim, but they will remember the helpful advice — and who gave it to them.

Below are two excerpts that support this concept of "information of value" so well, that I thought I'd let them speak for themselves.

Provide Value First
By Michael DesRochers, CEO of MicroArts

The most successful sales and marketing approach we’ve utilized within the past several years is to give before you get. Call it consultive selling or educational marketing or whatever you want. The basic idea is to provide something of value to the people who might be interested in buying something from you. It could be an industry report, a product comparison, a how-to booklet, an instructional video, an educational white paper, or a free trial. Anything that provides real value to the prospect is a short-cut to building trust and moving closer to a sale.

Trust, the functional mechanism behind traditional advertising and sales approaches, follows basic human nature. Frequency builds trust. You get your name out there, build awareness, create interest, and land some business. The more times someone hears about you or from you, the more aware they become. Yet, in some channels, over-frequency destroys credibility, and under-frequency creates a void someone else can fill. For business marketing, I don’t buy the consumer advertising pitch that broad awareness is necessary to drive sales, simply because I’ve seen it work the other way. One presentation can create awareness, interest, and consideration. The key is providing real value.

Take a hard look at your existing marketing and sales communications. Get rid of the hype and hyper promotions. Look at the content you have to work with, and see what you offer prospects and customers that really helps them decide what to do or buy. Offer something of value, invest in the relationship, and you’ll see interest increase.

Excerpt reprinted by permission from "7 Ways To Get More Marketing For Less Budget."

Just What Is Value-Added?

Legal marketing strategist Larry Smith puts it as bluntly as I've ever seen it put in his article "When 'Value-Added' Really Means 'Value-Added'" in the February 2003 issue of Strategies, the Journal of the Legal Marketing Association. He writes:

"Of what value to the buyer are brochures? None, unless you can pile up enough copies for a door jam. Of what value to the buyer is an ad? None, unless the ad is amusing, although amusing your prospects for a moment or two won't help them solve their business or legal problems."

When you apply this value-added logic to your own marketing efforts, the conclusion Smith comes to is this:

"If the buyers are better off because of your marketing, irrespective of whether you finally make a sale, then it is good marketing. If they are not better off, then it is bad marketing."

LMA members can read Larry Smith's full article online at

Walk A Mile in Your Client's Shoes

Adopting this information-of-value approach to your marketing requires a shift in thinking, from a firm-centric perspective (it's all about us) to a customer-centric perspective (it's all about the customer). It is easy to understand this approach in theory, but it is difficult to pull it off in practice.

Start by eliminating language in your marketing materials that sound like this: "We were founded in 1955... We are organized into three divisions... As the region's largest firm... Our professionals have over 200 years of experience combined... We strive to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers...." Firms find it difficult to let go of this approach because it is familiar to them, but to your customers it sounds like "blah, blah, blah." It is not differentiating, memorable or engaging. Your customers care much less about when you were founded or how you are organized internally than how you can help them solve their specific business challenges — today. Your marketing should address that directly.

Penetrating the minds and hearts of your customers, requires putting yourself in their shoes. Work to understand their needs and then engage them by working to fill the information gap (between their needs and your expertise). That will make them think you really are the greatest thing since sliced bread! — and that my friend is the start of a beautiful relationship.

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