I came across this interesting post from Dan Ariely at the Predictably Irrational blog. At the heart of Dan’s post is the art of storytelling, branding, and how much it can influence value and perception.
Dan tells us the story of the Significant Objects Project. The idea is simple. Here it is explained by the experimenters:
A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!
As Dan explains in his post:
The project’s originators – NY Times columnist Rob Walker and author Josh Glenn – bought up 100 unremarkable garage sale knickknacks for no more than a few dollars each, and then had volunteer writers whip up fictional back stories for them. This, they thought, would up the trinkets’ objective value.
They were right. Whereas the objects had cost Walker and Glenn a total of $128.74 to buy, the same trinkets netted a whopping $3,612.51 on eBay when paired with stories. This Russian figurine, for example, came with the original price tag of $3 but sold for $193.50. And this kitschy toy horse made the leap from $1 to $104.50.
You can also create value by investing time and effort into something (hence why we cherish those scraggly scarves we knit ourselves) or by knowing that someone else has (gifts fall under this category).
And then there’s the power of stories: spend a fantastic weekend somewhere, and no matter what you bring back – whether it’s an upper-case souvenir or a shell off the beach – you’ll value it immensely, simply because of its associations. This explains the findings of the Significant Objects Project, and also how other things like branding works.
What I found interesting about his was how much more value was placed on an object once there was a story, branding, and emotional attachment involved. In addition, I was intrigued by how much more value was created when others understood the time invested into something.
It makes you think, are you offering enough transparency into your practice so that your clients understand all that you do for them? Do your employees know how hard you work and all that you do to add value? Do clients tell stories about their experiences with you, no matter how trivial, because they see you going the extra mile?
I know in our own business we offer full transparency for all of our clients. We use online project management systems such as basecamp so that our clients understand and better appreciate the work we perform. This level of transparency and communication allows us to build trust and separates us quickly from the companies that don’t offer this. Clients can actually see all the hard work we are doing. The perception of the value we offer increases as a result.
Doing business is about building relationships, trust, and at the end of the day delivering results. By providing a proper amount of transparency into your work, you can alter the perception of the value placed on your services. This is a much better route to go than simply selling on a lower price.
Photo by: White Guardian Angel