Providing More Value to Your Constituents

Whether through our own holiday celebrations or simply through the messages that retailers throw at us starting in October, we are neck deep in the biggest season of giving throughout the year. My own personal list of gifts to buy for family and friends seems to grow so much annually that I have to wonder where all of these loved ones are coming from! And the list of charities both that I support and that ask me for money seems to grow as well. Like most people, I set a budget, make lists, search for deals, and give as much as my wallet will allow.

As I wrapped up little tokens of appreciation to send to my clients this year, I got to thinking, what intangibles am I providing? I hope I’m providing more value than expected and creating change and allowing them to make better strategic business decisions.

I recently came across this Value Pyramid from the Harvard Business Review to help me think through the elements of value.

The basic concept is that the attributes of a product or service address four kinds of needs: function, emotion, life changes, and social impact, and companies that deliver well on multiple elements of value tend to have stronger customer loyalty and higher revenue growth rates.

I think we can all agree that customer or donor loyalty and higher revenue (or program!) growth are exactly what we’re aiming for.

So how do you stack up? This season of giving and pre-January goal setting is a great time to assess what needs you’re meeting for your customers or constituents, and on a recent afternoon, I sat down with a cup of tea, pine-scented candle burning and did just that.

Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, the Functional Values are what initially draw customers in. They’re the shiny light at the end of the tunnel and show clients how you can solve a problem they have. 100 Degrees Consulting can help you: save time, simplify, organize, reduce effort, reduce cost, improve quality, and inform. What Functional Values are you providing to your clients, donors, constituents?

Next up are the Emotional Values. We’re getting a little deeper now, and I believe my services can: reduce anxiety, reward staff, provide access, and increase the attractiveness of a company or organization. When you think about the Emotional Values of your organization, does this get a bit harder? It did for me.

It was a bit of a mindset shift to think of my particular business as providing Life-Changing Value, but I think it can: provide hope, and motivate. What about you? Nonprofits, I think your life-changing values are clear, but what about the graphic designers or lawyers or artists out there?

And finally, Social Impact or self-transcendence. Is what you’re doing making an impact beyond your own wallet? Since my foray into the nonprofit world nearly a decade ago, I have focused my career on service and while I am not ashamed to admit that I earn a living doing so, my main motivation is service. But is my business making a social impact? I’m pretty confident that most of my clients are making a social impact.

When thinking about your goals for next year, consider not adding services or programs quite yet, and instead think about which elements of value will resonate with your customers and which can you go deeper on and deliver effectively.

“Judiciously adding elements can bring new life and growth to existing products as well as build customer loyalty — with far less risk and lower costs than hunting for breakthroughs.”