What exactly is value? Well, it doesn’t have much to do with actual money. Personally, I like this definition from the Oxford Dictionary:

The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

When I was growing up, my dad talked a lot about price versus value. One of the best examples he gave was when I expressed shock that he’d spent $300 on a pair of shoes for himself. You see, my dad takes great pride in calling himself cheap. He wears clothes until they’re practically falling apart. He drives cars until the costs of the repairs exceed the value of the vehicle. I’m 40 years old and he’s had the same pen and pencil set in his shirt pocket every day since long before I was born. He still uses his father’s repaired and reupholstered recliner that’s now probably about 70 years old. Why? Because he doesn’t value new things. He values function.

But what about those shoes? Won’t cheap shoes function just as well? Not necessarily. By spending $300 on dress shoes, my dad could make them last 10-15 years. Averaging that out over time, he could never get a pair of discount shoes that would last that amount of time. So, there are two things that create value for him:

  1. He doesn’t like shopping.
  2. He knows he’d pay more if he bought cheap shoes more often.

These concepts of value kinda blew me away when I was a kid: Paying more can be cheaper and save time.

The thing is, many still struggle with these ideas. I talk to businesswomen all the time and we often resist spending money to save time or enhance our business. It speaks to our tendency to undervalue ourselves and what we have to offer. And we need to get past that to really grow.

Here are four things I’ve learned to help me look at my own value through a new lens:

Identify the core value you provide to clients or customers.

Did you notice I didn’t say “what” you do for them? I build marketing strategies for clients, but the real value is in helping them build a simple, realistic plan to promote their business without feeling overwhelmed by the tools and the time it takes. Because small businesses need manageable marketing so it doesn’t take over every spare moment of their time. The key value I provide is a simple, realistic marketing plan that isn’t going to overwhelm.

When I help with the execution of that plan, then I’m doing the work I’m really good at so my clients are freed up to do their own genius work.

Share your value through your messaging so you reach the right people.

From your website to your social media channels, reinforce the value you provide. Reiterate the benefits – big and small – of working with you in a way that resonates with the people who have that need. I love services that do food preparation because that part of cooking (well, actually every part of it) isn’t enjoyable to me. Sure, I pay more for my food, but I spend far less time in the kitchen and still eat well. When I leave my house before 7am and don’t get home until 5:30/6:00, those services are invaluable to me.

When you hit on the right value, it will resonate with the audience you want to reach and work with.

Let go of clients or customers who don’t see your value.

I was asked to do a consultation with a business that wanted to use Twitter. In the course of our conversation, the person who contacted me made it clear they didn’t want to be interactive. They told me it was just another marketing channel – like joining a chamber of commerce. They wanted to set up their account properly and then automate it so it ran on its own. I gave them an overview of how to do both things and helped with the setup. However, I ultimately told them they shouldn’t be on Twitter. It’s no different than setting your kitchen up with all the bells and whistles and then eating out every day.

When the customer or client doesn’t see the value of what you do, it’s a waste of your time and theirs to work with them.

Free and undervalued are too expensive – don’t do it.

When people value what you do and connect with your why, the price tag is rarely a factor. Sure, sometimes there just isn’t budget to move forward on something that’s truly important to them, but don’t cut your prices to win business. Friend discounts, compassionate discounts, free for exposure – these things almost always cause more work and headaches than they’re worth. A nominal fee, even for marketing activities, ensures attendees are invested in what you’re doing. And putting a price that accurately reflects the market value of your contribution is important.

I’ve never regretted or resented taking on work I was paid a fair rate to complete. But I almost always regret and resent work I’ve done for free or at a discount. The best value doesn’t always come with the best price.

Know your value. Share your value. And don’t feel obligated to work with people who don’t understand your value. You’re worth more than that.


Check out our upcoming events so you don’t miss out. Our first Wine Down of 2018 is coming up on January 9th with a sweet Snowflake Special you won’t be able to turn down. Later in the month, we have our annual Sens event and the first Breakfast Mix & Mingle of the year. These are all great opportunities for you to get to know and learn from other women in the Ottawa business community.

Karen C. Wilson, WBN President
WBN President, 2015-18
Chief Marketing Strategist and Storyteller
Karen C. Wilson Communications