Value exchanged for payment constitutes the most basic aspect of business. It’s why a business exists, how a business survives and why it continues to innovate.
Value, however is not what the business says it is, it’s what the buyer says it is by their willingness to purchase from one business over another and their willingness to meet the price asked by the seller.
Businesses that truly appreciate this understand that one of their primary jobs is to increase value in an attempt to sell more at higher prices.
One way to increase value is to stuff more features into your products and services in an effort to make them seem better than what others have to offer, but the problem with that approach alone is that it’s so easy to copy.
A far better long-term approach is to do the things that make your brand worth more in the market. To be the one that people talk about most.
You do this by committing to creating more value in the lives of your customers through tangible and intangible acts that allow you to build deeper relationships. This is how you build value that can’t be mimicked. This is how you build a brand that attracts customers that expect to pay a premium. This is how you create more value.
The first way to create more value is to understand the value you already deliver. So often we blissfully go about creating happy customers and doing as promised, without stopping to measure what exactly our client realized from our product or engagement.
The funny thing is, more often than not, they got more than we promised, received value that far exceeded what we felt was a reasonable fee. When you create some form of results review you can start to make real assessments about value and communicate these results as proof over promise.
One of two things should happen when you get serious about measuring value: You’ll discover you are not charging nearly enough or you’ll discover your clients are not getting nearly enough – either way you’ll have the information to confidently readjust your business based on value.
One of the most potent ways you add value is to lead. Your clients are quite often looking for someone to offer them direction. Take a stand and declare a point of view about your industry that you consistently support and become a leading voice for your point of view. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone, leaders take a stand, welcome all points of view and defend what they believe – and that’s where the value is created.
Create groups in social media for those that are attracted to your point of view. Write article, make presentations, blog and invite others, including your competitors, to share their views.
This kind of thought leadership is how you establish more value for your brand, but it’s also how you build a community that wants to be a part of something more dynamic than the typical me too players in your industry.
If you’ve learned how to something well, one of the best things you can do for your own growth, and those that follow you, is to teach others how to do it well.
This idea certainly applies to the natural elements of your business offerings, but where the real magic happens is when you expand this concept beyond what anyone would logically expect from your business.
For example, if you sell plumbing supplies, but you’ve figured out how to get a lot of value from your Facebook page, take the time to teach your customers how to do the same.
Bring in experts in every area of your customer’s life and make them available as part of what your brand stands for.
Many people draw inspiration from art and creativity. One of the best ways to inspire and differentiate your business is by investing in and caring about great design.
Spend the time, effort, thoughtfulness and, yes, money to get design that inspires.
This is a tricky one because design that inspires is so relative, but know this, great design in your marketing materials, websites, products, packaging, even your invoices, is one of the easiest ways to stand out and differentiate your business. It is an investment that will return many times over.
It’s hard sometimes to convince people that design adds value, but all you need do is look around at most industry leaders in every category to find examples where great design is the leading difference.
I’ll end with another not so intuitive way to add value – listen to what you customers care about.
I know that seems pretty obvious, but we rarely do it.
Invest in the tools that allow you to monitor everything your customers are saying publicly in social media and invest the time to ask them what they need in face-to-face settings.
When you sit with someone and ask them something meaningful about their life, you shut off your phone, look into their eyes and really focus on and care about what they are telling you – you add value. Nobody listens much anymore and people know when they are being heard.
Doing this in the manner I’ve just described is harder than it sounds, but it’s how you fill your relationships with confidence and that’s a kind of value that people cherish most.