I remember a performance review early in my career. I was looking for constructive feedback, wanting to know where I could improve the way that I worked and what particular steps I could take to gain a promotion or better conditions in the following year. But all my manager could respond with was “add value”. And the further I pushed this topic, the more I realised that he really did not know what he was talking about. He was simply reverting to “corporate speak” to avoid giving me a pay rise.

In the world of marketing, there is also a lot of talk about “adding value”. But what does this mean? What are the practical steps that we can take to deliver this "value" to our clients? How do we work as agencies to transform the experiences of consumers? Both Sean Howard and Paul Isakson point out this great presentation by John V Willshire that takes us down the path of creating and delivering value.

What shape does this take? What can we honestly do to transform the work that we as marketers or agencies do.

John’s approach is to look at both the history and future of communities, by understanding the dynamics by which communities come together. The important aspect of this, for me at least, is that the focus is on the co-creation of context – which means that we need to strategically consider context over placement.

But as the focus of this presentation is about how we engage communities – whether they are business communities (which gravitate towards brands or products) or local (geographic) groups and so on. John suggests that there are four clear areas where we should focus our added value efforts:

  • Do something that is useful for people
  • Entertain people
  • Educate people
  • Connect people 

This presentation positions the brand at the very centre of the consumer experience, but Sean suggests that this misses the true opportunity. Rather than pre-empting Sean’s thinking around this, I will wait to see what he comes up with. But I have a feeling that it centres around two things: passion and social judgement. The anticipation is delicious.