Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting to Value

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

One woman's trash is another woman's treasure.

Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get. - Warren Buffett

What is Value?  It's an important question.  Whenever you are selling anything, and as a fundraiser you are selling something, the only way to "move your product" is to understand how it is valued in the marketplace.

According to, value is the relative worth, merit, or importance of something.  According to me, it's the importance that an individual assigns to your product, service or experience.

Value is different for different people.  For example, while you may place a high value on a FREE sundae with a cherry on top.  More syrupy, sweet stuff may not hold any allure for me.

Here is the mistake that companies and nonprofits make.  They assign value to the wrong things! 

Technology companies do this all the time.  Developers build cool new features that THEY dig but which have no value to the end user.

Nonprofits highlight programs, services and experiences that have very little interest for donors, members, clients or volunteers.

The trick is to be responsive to your "customers'" needs vs. promoting, selling, marketing, pitching, etc. what YOU think your stakeholders need or what YOU really like.

Getting to value means being curious about your work and OBSERVING how it impacts others.  It also means setting aside your ego and looking at your organization through someone else's eyes.

Don't make the mistake of assuming that you know or can intuit what other people want, dream about, value and desire.  Instead, do the hard work of LISTENING to understand what truly makes them tick.  And, then act on that!




Allison Fine said...

Love this, Jocelyn, thanks. When orgs ask me if they should do X or Y, I often respond, "What, what does your community think?" And they too often give me a startled look. I love what you're saying about listening as the first time to learning, and it goes hand with hand with having the humility to ask others what you should do. Thanks again.

Jim Siegel said...

So true, Jocelyn and thanks! Nonprofit boards and staff make these common mistakes: They believe their mission and programs will sell themselves based on their inherent worth. They operate with the assumption that support and recognition will automatically come to a good cause. This premise is false. You remind us that marketing is marshalling all available resources to deliver constantly on the fundamental principle that it’s not what you want to sell, but what customers are looking to buy.

Separately, you are so right about technology companies infatuated with new gizmos, creating products that are not consumer friendly. I just had DVR installed from the cable company, and the instructions and remote were sure not built with the non-tech user in mind!

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