Perceptions of Value (it's a content thing)
Sometimes you need some space to get things in perspective.

I’m sitting on the deck of a little bach (New Zealand holiday home/weekender) overlooking Awaawaroa Bay on Waiheke Island, just off Auckland.

For the last 3 days we’ve no TV or radio and we are 20 minutes from the nearest Wifi so there’s been plenty of time to read and think.

Having made the move over the past 12 months from purely catalogue advertising to embracing engaging visual content as our agency’s core business it’s amazing how many of the “old” rules still apply.

One of these is all about the “perception of value”. I remember sitting in a session at a US Direct Marketing Annual Conference, listening to Lois Brayfield, CEO of legendary US catalog marketing agency J.Schmid.

Lois made the very clear distinction between styled, beautifully lit product photography which implied quality and value as against simple, flatly lit, deep-etched (silhouette) shots which implied bargain price or functionality.

There has been a trend over the last few years to take much of internet product photography and dumb it down to simple deep-etched shots. One reason is load time, another is wanting to show each product individually so that a customer can purchase easily through a shopping cart.

That this means content can be produced cheaply by using untrained providers suddenly becomes an all-consuming race to the bottom of the photography rate-card. But unless you are dealing with exclusive product (or you are the lowest cost provider - and there is only room for one of these in any market) there is no emotional dimension in this vital last step in the buying process.

If the name of the game these days is engaging with your customer through content they find valuable then, Houston, we have a problem. 

Because, without emotion, there is no engagement at anything other than a price level.

The impact on your brand won’t be immediate; you may even get a small up-tick in sales as non-customers come to see you as a part of the larger “me-too” market.

But over time, the damage to your brand will be substantial and, quite possibly, irreversible.

On the other hand, Lois tells me that engagement means your prospect is 68% more likely to buy from you.  

"Customer loyalty rarely increases with incremental 'me too' service bits (or what I refer to as “cost of entry benefits)" says Lois. "BUT, exponential growth and loyalty occurs when you over-deliver and engage customers in a meaningful and emotional way".

Now, that’s a reason to go the extra mile!

You see, the customer cares and they totally get how much effort you put into portraying your product.

If you don’t think it’s worth presenting well, why would they assume it should come with any sort of premium to the lowest price available in the market. But engaging content doesn’t “just happen” - it’s strategic, requires planning, attention to detail and careful production.

So, unless you are Tiffany and have absolutely nailed beautiful deep-etched photography as an art form, you could consider changing your brand positioning to being that of the price leader.

Or you could delight and surprise your customers with engaging visual content that gives them a reason to come to you first… to stay and to buy.

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