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What is Valuable_ How Do We Define Value_

One of the perennial questions I consider is, “what is valuable?”

Contemplate some of the things we consider valuable:

  • Certain kinds of metals like platinum and gold
  • Business insights
  • Consumer attention
  • Brands
  • Money itself

What do these all have in common?

Their value is generally tied to scarcity and necessity. For example, think about the air we’re breathing right now. It’s abundant, and thus we don’t assign it much value. Now, imagine that there’s no air in the room. How valuable is air now? We would give nearly anything to be able to breathe.

the basic value matrix of valuable and important

What’s Valuable in Business?

Consider business and marketing today. What’s abundant?

    • Data is abundant – so abundant, we’re drowning in it.
    • Products and vendors are abundant for the most part.
    • Ideas are abundant (quality is a separate discussion).
    • Even money is somewhat abundant, looking at how venture capitalists are investing.

Consider next what’s scarce and important.

Time certainly is, which is one reason why so many professional services firms charge by the hour. We have 24 hours every day, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. Anything that saves time is inherently valuable.

Expertise is scarce and important. There’s no shortage of information, but the ability to turn information and data into usable insight is scarce and high-impact. True experts are few and far between.

Attention is valuable, as there’s incredible competition for it.

The most scarce and important resource? Results (positive ones).

  • We pay the best surgeons enormous sums of money for positive medical results.
  • Champion professional athletes earn as much as they do for positive attention results that fuel an entire industry.
  • Some brands command a premium because their product or service delivers a significantly better positive result.

How Do We Make Our Business More Valuable?

Consider the four most valuable factors above: time, attention, expertise, and positive outcomes.

tear value equation

Our product or service needs to deliver on at least one of the four value factors.

  • If we help save time, we will earn customers.
  • If we help provide insights no one else can, we will earn customers.
  • If we help capture more attention, we will earn customers.
  • If we help create positive results, we will earn customers.

The greater number of value factors our product or service delivers, the more valuable it is.

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