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For What It's Worth

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The concept of worth has come up a lot lately. Both on a personal and business front.  My husband and I discussed what our graduate educations are worth, I've thought about what my time is worth (given there isn't much of it!) and I've been reading lots of businessy books exploring what a concept may be worth. These all fit into the current discussion swirling around the creative community regarding the worthiness of handmade. The pricing, selling, marketing, and valuing of our work .  

The more I thought about it all I realized that this concept of worth is really quite murky. Being the word-nerd I am, I looked it up in a business dictionary and noted that worth contains "a perceived importance of something tangible or intangible."  I mean, I guess this is all sort of obvious, but it caused me to stop for a bit a really evaluate not just how I value my own work.....but how I am expressing those values in my brand. 

As a consumer, I can list attributes of products that have importance to me. I am willing to pay more, drive farther, spend time, and remain loyal to products that reflect what I value.  The key aspect in this, however, is that somewhere along the line these brands all conveyed this sense of worth to me. They shared their values in such a way that made me say to myself,  "this is worth it to me." 

It may not be worth it to someone else but it's worth it to me. 

So what does this mean for small creative businesses? It means we need to highlight the attributes of our business that may have perceived importance to buyers.  Whether it's re-writing product descriptions, sharing details of our handmade process, or better establishing our business's story - we need to be conveying our worth. 

Attributes that determine worth:
  • Quality: describing the details, process, and materials used can help a buyer determine a value for your work
  • Distinction: share what sets your brand apart, how are you different from the others?
  • Service: sometimes it's not about the product itself but what is offered from a customer standpoint (reliable shipping, custom work, nifty packaging, rewards programs)
  • Process:  small scale, handmade, local, one of a kind - these are all parts of the process that may have inherent worth to some buyers. 
  • Materials: sharing what goes into the product can make all the difference for a buyer (e.g. organic, vegan, hand-spun, locally sourced, recycled paper, etc...)
  • Experience: offering customers an experience can add worth -assuming it's a positive one! Things like custom work, personalized items, the ease of check-out all contribute to the overall feeling of your business
These are just a few attributes that convey the value in the marketplace. Personally, I've got my work cut out in redrafting my descriptions and story-telling to address these for potential buyers.  One handbag is not necessarily equal to another handbag - nor should it be. I think that by better expressing what makes our work valuable, the concept of worth is elevated beyond just the notion of price. 

{what other attributes help you define worth?}


Alejandra said...

your posts are always so helpful, honest, enlightening, insightful.. thanks so much for writing them for us!

Jenn said...

I really enjoyed reading this post...it has caused me to think deeper about my retail handmade business concerning worth, value and such...I appreciate your comments! Thank you!

Allisa Jacobs said...

So happy to hear you both found it helpful! Alejandra, I really appreciate your encouraging feedback! Jenn, best wishes to you & your business - always happy to answer questions.

Isa Maria said...

I love this! You explained it so well. Worth is made up of so much more than price and as small business owners it's up to us to consider all the different attributes that determine worth. Off to share this on my Facebook page!