Whenever you and I come to making a decision about something, one of the questions that inevitably pops up one way or another is about ‘value’.
“What’s it worth?” we ask.
What’s it worth – or what is the value for me in doing this or buying that?
When faced with a decision you and I have to evaluate the benefit that we will obtain out of making that decision – either way.
The benefit of not doing or buying it, versus the benefit of doing or buying it – whatever ‘it’ is.
But how do we measure the ‘benefit’?
You and I have two currencies to consider – time and money.
To ‘do’ something we will need to spend time and to ‘buy’ something we will need to spend money.
But how much do we want to ‘spend’?
And will the benefit we obtain from that expenditure be ‘worth it’?
In other words, how does the value obtained from the perceived benefit compare with the value of the time and/or money ‘spent’ in obtaining it?
Is it ‘worth’ using that time or spending that money?
Sometimes of course, obtaining a benefit requires the expenditure of both time and money so the ‘value proposition’, as far as you and I are concerned, becomes more complex.
The thing is that ‘measuring’ benefit is not straightforward.
Unlike measuring an amount of time or money, there is no ‘benefit scale’ (at least not in this context) that we can use.
There are no ‘units of benefit’ like minutes and hours or pence and pounds.
Benefits are subjective, and you and I are likely to place different ‘values’ on the same benefit.
To some people for example, life coaching or fitness training are very important, for others they are perhaps the least important for them in terms of benefits, or maybe they don’t see them as benefits at all!
Similarly, some people would see watching a sports event either live or on TV as a real benefit that gives them great enjoyment where others would see it as a complete waste of time!
But everyone sees an hour as an hour and a pound as a pound. Money and time (in this context) are finite and tangible. Benefits are not.
Benefits have a perceived value that depends on the individual.
But there’s a complication.
Most people, and sometimes you and I, often don’t think in terms of the benefit they get from doing or buying something.
Partly because no-one ever teaches them to evaluate benefits, but mainly because the providers of these benefits, whatever they are, rarely describe what they provide in terms of benefits.
They talk about features.
They offer ‘bright shiny objects’, sometimes real like a product, sometimes virtual like a learning programme or other kind of service.
They enthuse about how wonderful ‘it’ is and how many great features it has, and all the things you could do if you had or did whatever it is they have on offer.
To be fair it’s all they can do, because they don’t really know what benefit you and I are really looking for – and often, neither do we!
All the provider can do is describe potential benefits and trust that these will be recognised by potential purchasers.
And it’s not just people who are offering a product or service; everyone is in the ‘business’ of providing benefits of one sort or another to other people, members of the family, work colleagues, friends, society in general.
You and I, in everything we do, are doing it to create or provide a benefit of some sort to ourselves or others – otherwise why would we do anything at all?
The word ‘benefit’ comes from the Latin ‘bene facere’ which means ‘to do good to’ and the modern interpretation is ‘to bring advantage to’ or ‘to receive an advantage’.
It’s about the ‘advantage’ that you or I get, or give, by doing or buying something.
And having identified that advantage what is the best way of achieving it?
Now at least we can get closer to the original question of value – what exactly is it worth to achieve that advantage, that benefit?
Fortunately, some providers of the benefit we want do help us with this.
Unlike their competitors they focus on the benefit they have to offer, and more than that they are clear as to how that benefit will be achieved.
They don’t focus on their end, the great features of their offer, they focus on how they will help us, through product or service, to achieve the advantage we want.
Why they can provide the best way for us to realise the benefit.
It may or may not be the least expensive way, it may or may not be the quickest way, but if they can make a good case for their way to be the best way, the most effective way – whatever the price and whatever time it takes, then they will have a significant edge over other providers of the benefit being sought.
Once a provider presents that argument and makes that case then there is little or no ‘competition’.
People will purchase whatever solution appears to them to be the best way of achieving the benefit they seek.
People will do whatever appears to them to be the best way of providing benefit to themselves or others.
Look for the best solution to obtaining or providing the benefits or advantages you seek.
This may, and usually does, mean discarding the cheapest and the quickest, and it may also mean discarding options at the other end of the scale that require too much time or expenditure in terns of the benefit you are really looking for.
But first, you and I need to really understand what advantages or benefits we are looking for, to receive or to provide, and then make our choices accordingly.
I can assure you, it’s not that easy, but if done, it does save a lot of time, trouble and money – and that’s a great benefit in itself.