To go from clicks to customers, move your focus from products to people

Clicks don’t mean someone has connected with your product or brand. All they mean is that you’ve managed to grab someone’s attention — with humor, intrigue, wow factor, etc. — to make them act. This, in itself, is a feat.

Grabbing attention has always been central to the marketing and advertising mission. If you can grab the customer’s attention, you can tell them more about what you have to offer and, ideally, generate a sale. Today, however, there’s more vying for our attention than ever before and this becomes truer by the day, meaning brands face an increasingly steep uphill battle. This also means grabbing attention isn’t enough.

But it never was.

Brands with the strongest loyalty understand that the most powerful advertising stems from establishing an emotional connection with consumers. Not simply appealing to an emotion with something like humor, but actually understanding the consumer and the values that get them out of bed in the morning. When advertisers and brands make this shift, moving away from products and toward people, clicks becomes customers and, better yet, these customers become loyal advocates of the brand. Successful brands like Peloton are already doing this, and you can take the same approach.

Peloton’s continued human focus

When Peloton, who sells both products and services in the way of exercise equipment (beginning with a stationary bike) and classes that can be taken at home, first launched, the brand focused heavily on their products to establish brand recognition and carve a space in the industry. However, more recently they’ve transitioned to a more human centric approach. Rather than focusing on functionality, Peloton’s turning their attention to those who will be putting their products and services to use. Or, more specifically, how this use interacts with their life.

The “Better Is In Us” campaign is one of their earlier examples, focusing on the various challenges we overcome in pursuit of something better in ourselves, but Peloton continues evolving this message. The 2020 “Meet Our Members” campaign focused on real Peloton customers and how Peloton products — and ultimately a commitment to exercising with the brand — fit in their daily life. This year’s “It’s You. That Makes us” expands the message by focusing on the community and connection between customers made possible by a shared interest: exercise with Peloton.

If making this transition sounds like a big ask, that’s because it is, but the payoff is even bigger. Understanding the values that resonate loudest with your customers helps you connect more deeply and is possible if you move beyond features and benefits to understand how your brand essence intersects with the personal values you’re trying to reach.

Connecting Benefits to Personal Values

From features, you find benefits. From these benefits, you find values. When you work to understand the root of those values, you can understand the central emotional connection a consumer has with a product.

Unlike a cost benefit value analysis, this connection has nothing to do with actual monetary value. Rather, it’s an emotional-benefit value understanding.  It’s what connects the product’s features and benefits to the consumer’s values and beliefs. Let’s take a general look at how this could play out with a soda product.

Flavor is the unique feature and the refreshment/quenched thirst that comes with drinking it is the benefit. When refreshed, consumers can go about their day and be more productive. This, in turn, lets them live life to the fullest, however that looks to them. That very last stage is where consumers connect. It’s what drives them, often subconsciously or unintentionally, to make a buying decision.

Values-Based Message Development

When an advertiser understands the values and beliefs that create this connection, they can move the consumer from simply understanding the product’s features and benefits to connecting these benefits with their own values and beliefs. Suddenly, consumers imagine how the product affects what they value. This applies to any consumer-facing industry. A particular value may manifest differently from person to person but speaking to that value itself allows every individual to connect in their own way.

When you identify these values, these intrinsic needs, you can speak about your product by focusing on how that product addresses those values. As a result, you help consumers connect and build stronger relationships with your customers.

It’s important to note that this isn’t about how you can attach your brand to potential customers. It’s the opposite. You must understand what your customers value, so they can understand the benefit of attaching themselves to your brand. That’s a nuanced difference, but it’s crucial. When you reach consumers in this way, you generate real interest, new sales, and customers who become proud ambassadors for your brand because your products or services connect with their values.