me | writing
business / modet
Dec 01, 2021

What you and I didn't understand about "value"?

Tom Hosiawa • 3 mins read

If I ask you to explain “value,” what pops into your mind?

Do you think of money? Something nice and expensive like diamonds? Maybe it’s something you get, use or own. Put in your home?

That’s what I thought two years ago too. So did the business when I reviewed their sales pitch as we were figuring out why people are passing on us.

On that day, though, the salesperson and I googled “value proposition,” which made me think. Yeah, that sounds right. So is our sales pitch doing that? No.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t totally get it. Sure, I knew the definition. We knew what was missing. We knew what to add. But I couldn’t fix the sales pitch. Both of us were new to writing and communicating value.

Oh, if you’re thinking everyone knows this. They don’t. I realize now most of us, yes, your senior managers and senior executives, mix it up too. No one caught this.

We mistake our offer for our value

Two years later, here’s what I know and do now. We mistake and mix our offer for our value.

Our offer is simply the thing you get, use or own. It’s products like that teddy bear you buy. Services like buying a stock. Experiences like watching Lion King on Broadway.

But here’s the truth.
Value must be something you’re increasing or decreasing, adding or removing. If it doesn’t convey one of these four, it is not your value. It’s your offer. Why? Because you don’t need a product that doesn’t solve a need or desire, no matter how great it works, looks, is built or designed.

How do you find these? You ask yourself two questions:

  1. What unmet human needs and desires are you fulfilling? And remember, removing is just as important as adding.

  2. What unwelcome or harmful things are you removing?

In both, what pain are you relieving? what gain are you creating?

Types of Value

Don’t start with a blank page. Instead, look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maslow's hierarcy of needs

Functional Value
You Get or Create: Time | Money
You Remove: Obstacle | Friction | Barrier | Unwanted

One more thing. People buy your product based on how you make them feel, not what you do. If you only fulfill and convey your functional value, you’re leaving half on the table. The best teams focus on your emotional and psychological needs too.

Psychological Value
You Get or Create: Shelter | Safety | Security | Certainty | Autonomy | Fairness

Emotional Value
You Get or Create: Connection | Family | Friendship | Love | Belonging | Self-Esteem | Freedom | Confidence | Respect | Recognition | Reputation | Strength | Power | Fulfill your potential | Relatedness

Here’s a sample from everyones notes on how I do it:
For teachers, Pain Reliever-Functional. Time. Get back my time!. For learners, Pain Reliever-Emotional. Self-Esteem, Confidence. Stop feeling frustrated.

How do you do it? What are your examples of value?