Category Archives for "Elements of Value"

Drawing of a kingfisher

Design or Aesthetics?

It is easy to think design and aesthetics are the same, indeed Bain implies as much.  I think it’s important to distinguish between them.  You need to understand which you are talking about: design or aesthetics?

What are They?

Design and aesthetics occupy opposite dimensions of effectiveness and creativity.

Design should answer the question: does this do what it is designed to do efficiently and effectively?  The question is primarily functional.    If it doesn’t then it is not well-designed.

Aesthetics appreciates the beauty of the solution.  Does it look good?  Trousers serve many purposes, eg they cover the body, protect it from injury or cold.  They can also look smart or beautiful.

Here’s the deal: design and aesthetics support each other.  This is not an absolute, they don’t always.

An effective website does not have to look good.  Usually it is better if it looks good but it is not essential.  Furthermore, it does not have to look good to everyone.  Different groups have different aesthetics.

Value for the Client

To design something effective requires creativity.  The best designs look good and there is something satisfying when a well-designed solution is beautiful.  Aesthetics sell but only up to a point.  If the underlying design is poor, the product is discredited, however good it looks.

Aesthetics are packaging but they can be more than that.  Think of slimline TV screens.  Televisions used to be huge and heavy.  At the time they seemed to be the height of technological sophistication.  Now no-one would contemplate having one in their living room.  Modern TV screens do look better and take up less space.

We did not mind the old style because most of us did not think about what a TV screen might be.  That is the job of the designer who seeks something effective and aesthetically pleasing.

How to Get There

Design principles apply as much to services as they do to products.  A well-designed service delivers its promise on time.  Aesthetics apply to the marketing of the service, sometimes the right image is not easy to find.

If you are a designer, then delivering an attractive product that works is your brief.  But coaches must help their clients understand design principles for their product or service.

Whether as a prelude to employing a designer or something the client does themselves; the client must understand the principles beneath their design and aesthetics.

None of this is easy but done well, it is effective.

Your Offer

So, designer or coach conveys why understanding what is good design and good aesthetics is important.  To engage a designer you must define what you want from them.  Work in partnership with the designer, if you want something that works.

Your offer may be to help with briefing a designer through deeper understanding of your client’s offer.

This is the eleventh of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

Next:  Badge Value

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  • Functional: 14
Assortment of old designs in rural landscape

Nostalgia: Remembering the Past

Nostalgia does not have a good reputation.  Many people see it as sentimental, harking back to a golden era that never existed.  So, how can it be an element of  value?

What is It?

Usually people think of nostalgia as longing for things past.  It is a pursuit for older people who remember happier times.  Some industries trade on such longings.

There is a sense that nostalgia is somehow misleading, viewing the past through rose-tinted spectacles.  We like to think things were better once and the modern world is going to the dogs.  I don’t encourage this.  It may be legitimate to run 60s discos or tea dances but it seems to me a dead-end.

But perhaps there is a place for nostalgia in the world of design.  Many tools and other artefacts evolved because they were effective.  It’s a fine line between evolving effectiveness and locking in poor design principles because people like them.

Value for the Client

Perhaps the best present I ever bought was for a friend interested in the Bloomsbury Group, a group of artists post-WW1.  I found a single volume in a second-hand bookshop of photos of members of the group.  My friend was delighted, he had no idea such a book existed.

Perhaps there are principles that look to the past and learn from what worked.  There is a something pleasurable in handling something well-made to a traditional design.

Such designs are collectible and many have an interesting story.  Such objects sit somewhere between a work of art and practical application.

Look at it this way.  If you go back far enough, nostalgia no longer applies.  Appreciation of an object for what it is, even if it is a copy, can enrich life.  Comparisons with modern design can bring new insights.

How to Get There

This is a specialist area.  If you market the past, you must understand it.  Know the stories, be clear about what an artefact is and what a copy is.

Be clear about why you market something that looks backwards.  Why should anyone care?  What exactly do you sell?

Your Offer

If you take inspiration from the past, be up-front about its relevance to the present.  Show how the past enriches the present.

This is the tenth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

Next:  Design / Aesthetics + 6 more

  • Functional 14
Whole cheeses in shop

Generosity and Rewards for Clients

Rewards Me is the second of Bain’s Emotional Elements of Value.  I’ve no idea why “Me” but his point is clearly rewards for clients.

What is it?

Most readers have visited a Farmers’ Market.  You are familiar with a little saucer of free samples.  Maybe cubes of bread to dip in oil or chutney, perhaps cubes of cheese or even a small sample of something stronger.

This is a free gift, made at the front end of a business to draw in new customers.  It is like the generosity you see online, where people receive a pdf in return for their email address; a lead magnet.

But return to the Farmers’ Market and imagine you buy regularly from a stall, could be anything, let’s say cheese.  One day the stall holder slips in an extra portion of cheese, maybe a new line.

You can look at this in two ways.  It is an opportunity to try a new cheese and if you like it, you’ll buy some next time.  But maybe you have a budget and so if you buy the new cheese, you won’t buy your usual favourites.

Alternatively, this is a reward for your custom. The stall holder knows you like cheese and helps you extend your experience. They are building a relationship with you.  It’s not that you buy more, so much that they are less likely to lose your custom.  And of course you might recommend them to friends.

They might go further and invite you to a wine and cheese evening, no charge, for their regular customers.  They are rewarding you as a customer.  Stay with them and you’ll extend your experience of cheese (and wine), deepen your knowledge of cheese and meet others with similar tastes.

Value for the Client

You see the difference between the two approaches?  The first is a front end strategy, the second is back-end.  The cheese seller is aware they need to build a tribe of people who love cheese.  They see there is value in investing in their tribe.  These people become their ambassadors and so they want to offer something of value to show appreciation.

How to Get There

The rewards must be of real value to the client.  Normally, they are best if relevant to the business.  So, a cheese seller would try something cheese related.  They could give valued customers a box of chocolates.  This might be appreciated but it’s a bit random and diabetics who eat cheese instead of chocolates lose out.  You know your customers love cheese, so give them cheese!

You can develop a programme of rewards so as customers come closer and spend more, they receive more in return.  Or you may find there are times when an opportunity presents itself, perhaps you have more cheese than you can sell!

Your Offer

If you are a coach, be generous through your back-end.  These are sometimes called bonuses, which can be front or back-end.

Offer front-end bonuses with the package.  These are not really rewards because they are part of the package customers know they are purchasing.  It is worth noting affiliate marketers offer bonuses too for customer who order through them.

Back-end rewards are not advertised up front.  They could be a small gift as a sign of appreciation for their purchase, eg a book relevant to the topic of the coaching.  You could round up current and past clients and organise an event for them.  Whatever it is, make sure it is something they appreciate.

This is the ninth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

Next:  Nostalgia

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  • Functional 14
Forest scene with face in the trees

What to do to Reduce Anxiety

Moving on with Elements of Value, from life changing to emotional values.  As we descend Bain’s pyramid, the scope of these values narrows.  Perhaps these next 10 values are about self-control.  They aim to help you follow the course you are on and not so much change course.  Remember, with emotional stability, we are more likely to make life changing decisions.   One important emotional issue is how to reduce anxiety.

What is It?

Anxiety is an emotion we all experience and sometimes find hard to name.  In the body it often accompanies tightening of the muscles on either side of the abdomen.  This correlates with taking part in any stressful activity, eg public speaking.

Different people are anxious about different things.  For example, public speaking energises me.  I often do my best work speaking and cannot remember a time I felt anxious about it.

On the other hand I find interacting with people much more stressful, often becoming tongue-tied or expressing myself badly.  This is odd because I can speak to an audience without a script but get anxious when speaking one to one.  So, this is not about rationality.  If your client is anxious about something, they may be aware it is irrational (I am) but that doesn’t really help.

Value for the Client

The aim according to Bain is to help the client worry less and feel more secure.

Worry builds into stress and so anxiety is often a prelude to stress.  Strengthening resilience may be important.  Social meetings make me anxious but I go to them.  If anxiety means we stop doing things, it becomes a serious problem.

I don’t generally worry about meetings.  I’ve been to hundreds and know what to do.  I still feel anxious but I don’t worry.  What I have to do is find a purpose so that I don’t spend all the time hiding in a corner or seeming bad-tempered.  Public speaking can provide the role I seek, for example.

Feeling secure, perhaps better termed confidence, is where we are not obsessed by what can go wrong and can actually function.  We all have coping strategies and perhaps to be more effective we need to change them.  This is the role of a coach, to help the client work out the most effective way they can use their strengths to bolster their weaker aspects.

Your Offer

This may be stress coaching but I find, as a marketing coach, elements of reducing anxiety are necessary.  Sometimes we find workarounds together.  Maybe some clients need more specialist help.

One of my roles as a coach is to help clients name their problems and if it is anxiety we can look at the specifics together and work out support the client needs.

I suspect most coaches need to reduce anxiety because it is a common reason clients do not perform at their best.

This is the eighth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

Next:  Rewards Me

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  • Functional 14
Belonging depends on which side of the gates you are on

Building Belonging Brings Value

Most marketers are into building belonging.  Many talk about building a tribe.  But there is a distinction between marketing to a tribe and actively and openly building one.

What is it?

A tribe is people like us.  You sell to them because people like us buy things like this.  If someone belongs to such a tribe, they value what you offer because they believe it is right for them.  Their sense of belonging increases but they might equally be unaware of the tribe they belong to.

So, one choice is to show how your offer enhances their sense of belonging.

Value for the Client

So, what is it about belonging, your client finds valuable?

Status plays an important role but status alone is unlikely to make the deal happen.  Online activities, for example, have an initial status appeal but in time the name of the teacher and course seems less attractive. Most people don’t know these names and why should they trust you recycling what you learned from others?

Being a member of a group that provides genuine support may be really attractive.  Here you are not sitting at the feet of a teacher so much as discussing and working on problems together.  This experience has status appeal.  Being part of an inner circle can be very attractive.

How to Get There

It is difficult to move from nothing to an inner circle in one bound.  To build a group requires trust.  Your tribe does not belong to you.  They exist mostly in isolation unaware of other members or that they belong to that tribe.

So, your task is to raise awareness for members of the problem they share.  Some listen and take up your offer and so you begin to build trust.  You find yourself able to introduce members of the tribe.

Your Offer

You could offer membership of a club where you teach or discuss issues of common interest to meet in-person or online.  There are numerous closed groups online, where people choose to gather.

Meetings can be social or educational and more usually both.  They can be for learning, networking, support, consultancy on some situation, case, project or problem.

This is the seventh of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

  • Emotional: Next:  Reduces Anxiety

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  • Functional 14
Old letters, photoes and dried flowers

Provide an Heirloom for the Next Generation

Of the five life changing elements of value, this one is perhaps most distinct.  The focus is on an heirloom for future generations and not so much the business owner.

What is it?

My brother-in-law’s family have a Bible that is a few hundred years old.  They have a distinctive first name passed from generation to generation and the family inscribed detail of each person so named in it.  That’s an heirloom.

As Bain suggests, you can sell products to pass to future generations.  Items of jewellery, for example.  The value of an heirloom goes beyond its monetary value.  The fact that one or more ancestors used the item adds to its value, sometimes called sentimental value.

This is a narrow definition.  Legacy might be a better word because we can leave much more for descendants.

Value for the Client

My father never aimed to leave a fortune to his children.  He believed we would be better off learning skills to provide for our families.  So, note not everyone is interested in leaving an heirloom or legacy for their descendants.  However, legacy implies several possibilities.  Here are a few.

Equipping your children with the knowledge and skills they need.  Parents who pay for their children to study at University for example, are in effect leaving a legacy.

Parents pass on skills, knowledge and know-how to children.  If as a business person you know how to make money, these insights are of value to future generations.

Another legacy is to pass on your business.   My father hoped I would take on his business but my interests were elsewhere.  But where there is willingness to take it on, this can work.  To pass on the business early can mean you develop new interests while still available to lend a hand as the new business owner navigates unfamiliar waters.

Or else, pass on elements of the business.  If you are in property for example, you might leave a property portfolio for each child.

And of course, you can sell the business and leave money.  There are several reasons you might sell your business and legacy may have a minor role, as you may need to provide for immediate needs during retirement.  This is a complex area and if your business has value, you are likely to need professional help to sell it.

How to Get There

All these options have potential for business support.  They all benefit from specialist help.

Someone who wants to make provision for their children, must consider the best steps they can take.  One obvious point is children may have different needs and inclinations.  I admired and copied my father but I was never interested in the one thing he worked for.  My sister may have been a better bet to take over his business but at the time that was not something anyone considered.

There are many stories of wayward children who squander the family fortune.  Others may be willing but lack business sense or may resent a parent who interferes in what is now their business.

Where it works out, legacies can be of value but they need careful planning and realism.

Maybe in the end an heirloom is the best option!

Your Offer

There are opportunities for coaches or consultants in this area.  Simply working out the best strategy can be a real challenge.  So, can complex activities such as selling a business.

This is perhaps mainly the domain of financial advisors but the issue may come up for other coaches and consultants.  There’s no harm asking about legacies as a part of a business growth or marketing package.

This is the sixth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:




Next:  Affiliation and Belonging

  • Emotional 10
  • Functional 14
man at desk with his head in his hands

Motivation: How to Help Clients Achieve Their Goals

Motivation, the third of five life changing elements follows on from the previous two.  Some coaches provide hope, support self-actualisation and motivate their clients.

What is it?

When you provide hope you help your client build a strategy or design that determines their goals.  Self-actualisation is the means to meet those goals.  Once you know where you’re going and how to get there, motivation makes sure you actually do it.

Shipping is sometimes the hardest challenge business-owners face.  Those attempting other challenges, eg keeping healthy, can face similar challenges.  Shipping is where we actually put something into the world and so subject it to others.

Value for the Client

Motivation is not about getting out of bed in the morning.  Inability to get out of bed and other forms of procrastination are usually related to other fears.  For the business person it is fear of having a treasured idea rejected by the public.

Motivation is a combination if reassurance and accountability.

How to Get There

Reassurance is close examination of fears.  How likely are they to happen?  What steps can you take to prevent them or mitigate their effects?  If they happen, what benefits might they bring?

Accountability is agreeing you will discuss reasons for delays.  Many business owners work for themselves and no-one cares whether they succeed or fail.  Someone who cares and demands explanations can be really helpful.

Your Offer

Fear of shipping is common and severely inhibits business growth.  A coach who holds their clients to account can be valuable but the value of this service may not be immediately clear.

For this reason, motivation can be combined with other elements of value.  There is little value in motivation to do what turns out to be the wrong thing and so, combined with providing hope and self-actualisation, motivation can add to the perceived value of an offer.

This is the fifth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

  • Emotional 10

  • Functional 14

Two birds in a leafless tree branch

How to Promote Self-Actualisation

Words like self-actualisation leave me cold.  But it is the second of Bain’s life changing elements and so I’ll have a go.

What is it?

Self-actualisation is about personal accomplishment or improvement according to Bain.  So, it is about learning a new skill or honing an existing skill.

You may be approached by someone who is clear about where they are going but needs help to get there.

Say, you’re a piano teacher and someone approaches you who wants to be a concert pianist (or perhaps you approach them!).  Your task is to help them play the piano better.  It is not to question their goal of being a concert pianist.  You might of course assess their skills and give them feedback.  That feedback might be they will never be good enough to be a concert pianist.  Presumably that would mark the end of your relationship.

Some piano teachers provide hope, strategic direction as well as the coaching that results in self-actualisation.

Value for the Client

This is easy.  The client seeks out the person best placed to help them meet their goals.  This is their primary motivation.  If they don’t know what they want they can’t accomplish anything.

You as a coach may offer to provide hope and self-actualisation but they are different values.  No coach can specialise in everything and so once a client decides, they re-assess coaching needs because they may need specialist help their first coach can’t provide.  Similarly where self-actualisation leads to reappraisal, the existing piano teacher may not be the best option.

How to Get There

Self-actualisation is more focused than provision of hope.  It is about learning new skills or polishing old skills with a goal in mind.  It is support for someone as they find their way forward along the road they have chosen.

Your Offer

If you teach a skill, bear in mind the reason someone chooses to work with you is important.  They have some goal in mind and it is important to know what it is.

As a coach you help your client get what they need to meet their goals with your support.  You cannot guide them if you do not know their goal.

This is the fourth of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

Next: Motivation + 2 more

  • Emotional 10

  • Functional 14

An open door

Does Your Offer Provide Hope?

There are several ways the value you offer through coaching or consultancy can be life changing.  This first one is where you provide hope.

What Does it Mean to Provide Hope?

According to Bain, when you provide hope, you offer something to be optimistic about.  So, a business that provides dietary supplements offers hope for a healthier body.

It is worth looking a little closer.  Hope is a theological word and has a specific meaning.  It is often grouped with faith and love; the three great virtues.

So, what is it?  It’s common to see hope as a pietistic belief in heaven; that everything will somehow pan out for the best.  Hope is more active than simply “hoping for the best”.

I think of it this way:

  • Faith is the way we perceive the world around us (not belief in a specific doctrinal system)
  • Hope is the steps we take towards a better future for ourselves and others
  • Love are the specific actions we take in response to the needs of others.

So, hope is strategic; commitment to a course of action.  There is some risk involved. We cannot know our course of action will be successful unless we set out.

Hope is the entrepreneurial virtue!

Value for the Client

It is hard to generalise but the basic idea is to help the client find a route to something they need.  The implication is something is at stake.

If you help your clients acquire a new skill, for example, you do not provide hope unless that skill is on route to a life change the client needs.  Indeed the client might approach you because they have hope!

How to Get There

So, you provide hope when you teach not only a skill but also help the client work out how to use the skill to reach a life-changing goal.

Hope is not an instant return on investment.  It is a change to the way the client approaches the world.  They may need to change the way they perceive the world as well as find the path they need to make the change they need.

Your Offer

So, don’t claim this value unless you offer the opportunity for real change in your client’s life.  It may involve helping the client acquire new skills but simply teaching a skill is not in itself a way to provide hope.

I coach in marketing and some of my clients have changed what they offer as a result of my coaching because they see a new opportunity.  Sometimes this amounts to a completely new direction and that is when I know I have provided hope.

Neither I nor my client can be certain their new road will be successful but making that decision to try the road is a sign of hope.

This is the third of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

next Self-Actualisation

+ 3 more elements

  • Emotional 10 elements

  • Functional 14 elements

Tree without leaves

How Self-Transcendence Enhances Value

This first Element of Value is key to the others.  Self-transcendence is the only Social Impact Element and the only one where businesses pass value to others or society in general.

What is Self-Transcendence?

The problem is social impact is a mutual benefit, and the term “self-transcendence” returns focus to the self.

Mutuality is important and easily lost where a business donates to a charitable cause; a limited approach to social impact that has two important downsides:

  1. This one-way approach to charity means business has no skin in the game. They take little interest in how effective their donation is.  They may be interested in the immediate impact of their giving, the outputs.  “We equipped x schools with y desks.”  But what are the outcomes? Is the business committed to social change or does it just want to look good?
  2. There is no harm in looking good. A business can point to the good it does, the real change for the better it commits to and benefit from its work for transformation through its marketing.  Arm’s length giving does not do this. Agreeing with a charity for mutual benefit is likely to be good for both parties.

Self-transcendence implies mutual benefit.  When a business passes value to others and society in general it benefits because because prospects see how it benefits others.  This is a business that contributes to well-being beyond its immediate customers.  In a sustainable economy, the costs to the business are balanced by the benefits it receives when prospects perceive it as a beneficial and therefore welcome presence in the economy.

Value for the Client

If self-transcendence is important to your client, what is its value to them?

Let’s consider two kinds of client.

The first is someone in business for social transformation.  They want to help people and see change in the world around them.  They need financial success to meet their aim.  This implies they seek mutual benefit.  For these clients, selling their services is likely to be an issue; is it ethical?  Their vision is a strength and perhaps a barrier to realistic business practice.

The second sees no social impact from their work.  Yet, social impact is real for all businesses as people are unlikely to buy if social impact is negative.  So, knowing the social impact of your business is no disadvantage.  It opens up new dimensions to marketing.  It may be possible to enhance social impact through increased awareness and so increase income.

Social impact offers all businesses strategic direction.  It does not have to be charitable.  Improving management in a specific industry might be social impact, for example.

How to get there.

A good question to ask is: “What social impact do we have?”  Something that flows naturally from your business is likely to be more satisfying than charitable giving tacked on to assuage guilt and look good.

If your focus is on building the business and balancing books, perhaps you have not taken time to look at the impact the business has and build on that as integral to its future.  A clear transformational role, tempered by financial reality can set the strategic direction for a business.

We’ll see over the next weeks there are other things you can build on for strategic direction.  But this one is on top for a reason.  It sets the strategic context in which all businesses work.   If a business cannot articulate the value it offers to society, it is likely to lose direction.  It is not that it has no value to society but the business-owner is unaware of the impact of their own business.

Your offer

Businesses that offer a bit more and invite customers to take part in social change have a competitive edge.  Not everyone is drawn to the same thing but the point is to find those customers that are and build on their commitment to your social aims.

So, the challenge is to work out how to offer social transformation through your business.  This may be easier for coaches or consultants who can point to direct changes they cause through their work.  For businesses that offer products there are options from negative, eg mitigating environmental impact, through to the positive good using the product does beyond the immediate customer, through to activities the business takes part in as  part of its mission.

This is the second of 31 posts about elements of value.  Make sure you don’t miss any by signing up for the offer below.  The posts in this sequence can be accessed below:

  • Social impact Self-transcendence
  • Life Changing next Provides hope

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  • Emotional 10

  • Functional 14