Value is an intriguing, complex, subjective, and often misunderstood concept which is the product or consequence of a convergence of quality, design, price, predictability, and, often, originality and individualism. Sadly, to many, value has been reduced to a single dimensional scale. That is, price, and with it the whole precept has been debased.
Above all else, value is determined, accepted and appreciated by individuals, consumers at large and the marketplace. It is they, individually and collectively, who assign the relative ratings and weightings of a disparate set of attributes and characteristics to determine the “true measure of value”.
Advertising texts that scream “Great Value”, typically because of cheap and discounted products, miss the point. The primary thing discounted in such instances is the inherent value of a brand name.
IT'S LORE, NOT LAW
It is bemusing to many that lawyers and the legal fraternity are dismayed that they and their skill-sets are not valued.
The self-determined and self-measured sense of worth, common among those students of the letters of law are greatly influenced by a profession-wide culture. First-year undergraduates are exposed to a belief system, highlighted and reinforced by lecturers and tutors, that is quantified in six-minute modules. Career path aspirations, income expectations and assessments of one's worth to “the firm” are all extensions of the six-minute fee charging mind-set.
Conversely, consumers and clients have profound interest in “concrete” outcomes in their dealings with lawyers and the law. They want accurate assessments of legal decisions (from and within courts and tribunals), set predetermined costs and defined projections of time schedules.
Rationalisations, equivocations and references about the vagaries of legal processes simply serve to compound the annoyances, frustrations and sense of a lack of value felt and expressed by so many corporate and individual clients.
Considerable competitive advantage and growth potential lie unfulfilled in the legal landscape for practices (and legal practitioners) that are prepared to take the risk (as so often undertaken by other professionals, including management consultants, engineers, accountants and bankers) to be “concrete” in their costing estimates and evaluations of probable outcomes. If only they would...DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.
WORTH PAYING FOR
True value is worth paying for. Consumers revel in a sense of satisfaction in knowing or concluding that he or she has a balanced sense of value.
During the course of 2011 I was approached by a Melbourne-based professional event management group which was to conduct and promote a public conference.
The projections and related statistics were impressive... A total audience exceeding 300 senior corporate executives from targeted and defined business sectors, each of whom would pay in excess of $4,500 to register and attend an intense three-day program of diverse speakers. Specific dates and venues were nominated.
“Would you be interested in having the opportunity to address that audience
profile?” I was asked.
Expressing the affirmative response seemed unnecessary and meaningless. I ventured forth with the statement:
“Yes, subject to the brief, the set objectives and conditions of my appointment. In short, what will be the fee and expenses?”
I'm still not sure, but I think the response was awe-inspiring, or alternatively, breathtakingly audacious:
“ YOU will be expected to pay $4,500 to address the group for 45 minutes.
All travel, accommodation and meal expenses will be your responsibility.
However, we will offer a discounted registration fee so that you can hear
the other speakers.”
I offered some well-intentioned gratuitous advice, with the rider that being gratuitous and not involving any fee the advice did not represent value. My contention was that if I was not worth paying, then she should find others who were, to pay them and to appreciate the value.
Value reigns supreme. Subsequent advice received at our offices was reassuring. The proposed public event did not proceed and the event company promoter lost a considerable sum of money. The marketplace had expressed its own value judgement.
TAKE OUT VALUE
“Long after the price is forgotten, the value will be appreciated.”
It is a long established, tried and true axiom of business.
Successful and professional marketers repeatedly espouse the need to de-emphasise the features of a product and service in favour of emphasising the advantages and benefits which are determined, appreciated and valued by customers and clients.
There is little point in knowing one's product if there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the perceptions, attitudes, expectations, needs and value determinants of customers and clients.
PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS
Increasingly, retail pharmacists are assigning priorities to offering, promoting and capitalising on services which complement and enhance the income generated by the dispensing of traditional medicinals. Significantly, greater than 50% of adult consumers currently seek out and take complementary medicines.
It is they who determine if each and both sets represent value. Professional vanity can be and is an expensive attitude of some medical professionals. However, there should be no reticence about the concept of fee for service.
Trained and experienced market researchers, do have much to offer in addressing this issue. Now is a good time for all pricing structures to be reviewed and refined. New pricing models should be tested before implementation.
It is important for one to remain objective and dispassionate in studying consumer preferences, buying criteria and buying habits. The data which is retrieved and collated must be analysed without any value-judgements by the researchers. That is a measure of the worth and value of the research to the client.
The logical progression of the process extends to the interactions between companies, their representatives and consumers.
Business people need not agree with their customers, but they do need to understand... that's value and valuable.