Take a Stand

Value Relevance

Well-developed values stand out.
Mary, a children's dentist, is a member of the local school board. She believes effective childhood education is essential for sustainable happy communities. Because she values children's health, and education, Mary finds scientific findings linking nutrition to learning highly relevant.

People engage more with propositions that are related to their values., that is, related to issues that define who they are, or the groups they identify with. In the example above, the report interests Mary, because it concerns children and education.

Value-relevant issues are similar to personal interests, only deeper-seated, and more persistent. Values, Interests, and Identity are bound to each other.

American Republican party emphasizes shared values.

Political campaigns play the value relevance card when they emphasize shared values in their quest for donations.

The most effective shared values for building engagement are clearly defined and differentiating. Generic or imprecise statements of value serve little purpose. For example, compare the value statement of Microsoft with that of Ubuntu (an alternative software operating system):
"At Microsoft, our mission and values are to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential." (Microsoft)
"Our work is driven by a belief that software should be free and accessible to all." (Ubuntu)
Ubuntu offers a value people can identify with and become passionate about. Microsoft’s value statement is too generic to sustain identity or passion. Clearly, Ubuntu's values are more engaging than than Microsoft's.

Perhaps Microsoft avoids a strong value statement because it does not want to alienate anyone. But a weak value statement is insipid ...and even nauseating. If you don’t have clearly-defined and differentiated values, it's better to talk about something else.

Bottom line

Relevance is key to building Customer Lifetime Value because it drives recurring transactions. Propositions are relevant to your customer either because they align with personal interests, or because they carry value, impression, or outcome relevance. To appeal to your customer's values, keep in mind that:
  • The most enduring customer relationships are based on shared values.
  • Strong, differentiated values lead to strong customer relationships; imprecise or generic values serve no purpose.
  • Don’t be afraid of a polarizing proposition. Nobody values insipid.

Join me in the fight against insipid propositions! Take a stand by leaving a comment below. Please engage.

This post is part of a series on Design for Customer Engagement.


  1. Mary may find unstructured big data analytics in sourcing scientific findings linking nutrition to learning, highly relevant. This would allow her to slice, dice and report on her research faster and with a larger body of knowledge she would be better educated in the field to engage & transform people's ideas and behaviour towards her value of children and education.


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