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How to Engage Customers Using Radical Intrinsic Value

How to Engage Customers Using Radical Intrinsic Value

James Maddison

old radio

Too many brands lean on solely promoting the external value of their products. Radical intrinsic value can help buck the trend.

Cultivating meaningful relationships with customers is becoming increasingly difficult. Consumer attention is fragmented and hard to maintain, as people are faced with more messages on more devices than ever.

In such a swirl of marketing noise, it can be tempting to shout louder than the rest of the pack about your product features and pricing. Instead, break the cycle and engage with customers before they need your products. Nurture these relationships and you’ll ultimately make brand champions from otherwise passive customers.

I’ve called this process the pursuit of radical intrinsic value (RIV).


What is Radical Intrinsic Value?

Radical intrinsic value is a way for brands to sell a product that consumers will find useful, and for the brand itself to have an inherent worth to that same customer.

There are three main ways we humans can find something valuable:

  • First, think of an old plastic, wind-up radio. This has external value only; It’s not worth much itself but can produce something of incredible value—specifically, it can play beautiful (and sometimes, not so beautiful) music.
  • Now think of the music itself, say a piano concerto. This is the second state of value: The music can’t create anything externally, but not many people would say it’s valueless. It has intrinsic, or inherent, value.
  • Sometimes, an object can be intrinsically valuable and produce external value. In this example, the first radio player in history could be incredibly valuable (intrinsic) and produce external value (the music).

In the modern world, too many brands—even those that already use content marketing regularly in their communications—lean heavily on the first form of value: external. Simple news and guide-heavy blogs are created alongside marketing campaigns with the premise, “If you read/do/buy this, you will get X benefit.”

These initiatives often push products and brands solely for the benefits they produce if you buy them. RIV pursues this, but also layers in value that is inherent to the customer’s dialogue with the brand itself. Simply put, interacting with a brand on its own creates value for the customer, regardless of the benefit of the product. Many businesses from Patagonia (sustainability) to Apple (technology and design) pursue this concept to great effect, but few have codified it until recently.

How Do You Create Radical Intrinsic Value?

The formula for expressing radical intrinsic value is simple: philosophical attachments, multiplied by subjective experience, over the relevancy to the target audience.

RIV = Pa x Se / R

Philosophical Attachments

Philosophical attachments are the ways and methods humans use to find meaningful ways of existing in the world. Take the customer base of UK-based small business loan provider iwoca as an example. Through user testing and research, it is evident that small business owners are attached to the philosophical ideas of being in control of their own lives, being independent of the control of others and of working hard as a virtue.

Subjective Experience

Literally, what people experience when they engage with a brand’s marketing campaigns. If you can generate powerful experiences, whether that’s humor, happiness or fear, this amplifies the power of messaging.


Finally, the marketing has to be relevant. If you have created something that targets the philosophical attachments and subjective experiences of 60-year-olds but your product only benefits Generation Z, you won’t get far.

Great resources already exist on how to use content-led marketing for SEO, paid social, email and lead generation. But if you start these initiatives by focusing on the radical intrinsic value, you can be confident that—whatever campaign you run—you will maximize its impact to the fullest.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Jamie Maddison is senior UK marketer and the head of content marketing at iwoca, a London fintech specializing in business financing. He is the publisher for their small business magazine, The Sixty Percent.