World of Warcraft mirrors real life in astonishing ways, none more so than in economics. One of the easiest ways to make gold in World of Warcraft is through in-game professions, and these professions have a powerful lesson to teach us: boring but valuable pays well because no one wants to do it, but everyone wants it done.
People are by nature looking for the fastest, easiest way to get things done and play the game, as opposed to grinding out stuff like professions. Playing the professions mini-game inside the game is boring, but valuable. As a result, they will pay absurd premium prices for things they could easily do themselves in the name of expediency, in order to get to the “fun part”. Here’s a very quick example.
Moonglow ink is made from a variety of herbs, all of which are easy to get, even for beginners. Collect 20 peace bloom and you’ll make about 5 bottles of moonglow ink, which is useful for making low level glyphs. In a purely rational market, the price of moonglow ink should be 4x the price of any of its component herbs. 12 silver is what an herb should cost, so 20 of them is 2 gold, 40 silver. That pile of herbs makes about 5 inks. A stack of 20 moonglow inks should therefore cost 9 gold, 60 silver. Yet when we check on the pricing data, we see something quite contrary to expectations:
54 gold. That’s a 562% markup. 562%, from doing something that any beginner in the game can do, but people don’t want to because it’s not exciting, even if it’s necessary for them to get the most out of the game.
What does this have to do with the real world? Recite the lesson: boring but valuable pays well because no one wants to do it, but everyone wants it done.
Affiliate marketers understand this already very well – transform web traffic (boring but valuable to generate) into an asset that can then be resold to other companies at a tremendous markup. Resellers understand this already very well, too: take a commodity that someone else produces (boring), add a transformation or benefit (valuable), and resell at a much higher price. There’s a huge market of virtual assistants because so much of what we do every day is boring but valuable, and they’re more than willing to trade their time for our money – and we trade it happily and eagerly.
Look for boring but valuable all throughout your company’s products and services! It’s beyond obvious to turn 20 Peacebloom into ink for 9 gold instead of paying 54 gold for them on the market, yet it’s a highly profitable venture because it’s boring and no one wants to do it, but everyone wants it done. Have you got an audience of your own in social media? You’ve accomplished the boring but valuable part. Now find someone who wants that part done but doesn’t want to do it, and you’ve got a business opportunity. Have you got a killer email marketing list? Boring but valuable – someone will pay for access to your list in lieu of building their own.
What have you got that no one wants to do, but everyone wants done? Someone out there is willing to pay top dollar to you right now for it. Go find them.
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