30 Proven Ways to Make Any Product More Valuable

Interview with Donald Miller, J.J. Peterson, and Nigel Green

Episode Description

I’ve just achieved Peak Business Nerd status.

I have laminated an infographic from a business magazine and plastered it all over the StoryBrand office.

But I feel justified. This is one of the best business resources I’ve come across in years, and I am so excited to share it with you during today’s mini-episode of the Building a Story Brand podcast.


It’s called The Elements of Value Pyramid, and it’s the result of decades of research from Harvard Business Review (HBR). They studied thousands of companies. They reviewed vast quantities of consumer research data. And from that, they determined these 30 elemental “building blocks” of value.

The implications for our businesses are tremendous — from crafting sales copy to competitive analysis to product design — but in my nerdy zeal I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up…

What do we mean when we talk about value?

When someone is considering purchasing your product or service, they’re weighing the cost you’re asking against the benefits you’re promising.

Is what I’m getting out of this cup of coffee (an energy boost, a moment of relaxation) worth my $4? That’s a question of value.

To drive sales, most of us lower the cost and keep the value the same.

But this pyramid empowers you to keep (or increase) your costs by adding more value.

(If this sounds familiar, you may have heard David Salyers of Chick-Fil-A talk about it in an earlier podcast.)

After you listen to this mini-episode, you’ll be able to answer these paradigm-shifting questions:

*What are the ways that my products and services are valuable that I haven’t considered?

*How can I highlight those in my marketing messages to increase the perceived value of my product?

How the Elements of Value Pyramid Works

Here are what HBR calls the 30 “elements of value,” organized into an increasingly narrow hierarchy.

So, let’s break down the pyramid, shall we?

Level 1: Functional Value

The base level of value, which provides something utilitarian or useful. For example:

Reduces effort
Blue Apron delivers prepped ingredients for a gourmet meal to your doorstep, so you can open a box and immediately get to work on dinner.

Saves time
Starbucks’ mobile ordering app lets you submit your order ahead of time and skip the line to pick it up.

Uber makes getting around a new city easy. Push a button, get a ride. Push another button, pay for it.

Reduces cost
Target’s Cartwheel app highlights that its users have saved a total of $621 million and counting.

Facebook’s signup page invites you to “Connect with friends and the world around you.”

The Company Store promises that their bedding uses natural cotton and large-cluster down. Not sure what that means but I do want a nap now.

Nature Box sends you a different set of snacks to graze on each month.

The other functional values include:

Makes money
Reduces risk
Avoids hassles
Sensory appeal

Level 2: Emotional Values

The values in the next level invite us to feel a particular way.

Reduces anxiety
Carbonite offers online computer backup to customers so they can stop worrying about losing precious files and family photos.

Rewards me
Starbucks makes frequent customers feel special with “gold status,” which unlocks free refills and other perks.

Anthropologie invites shoppers to relax and feel more sophisticated by creating beautiful, visually inventive store spaces.

When Cheerios touts its first ingredient as “whole grain oats,” they want to make customers feel good about their health choices.

Badge value
Fitbit fosters personal pride by awarding badges to users who reach major accomplishments, like walking 25,000 steps in a day.

The other emotional values include:

Therapeutic value
Provides access

Level 3: Life Changing Values

These values promise a personal transformation of some kind.

The YMCA offers not just a gym membership but a community that can grow and shape you.

Self actualization
Tough Mudder and other extreme races want participants to feel like they’ve reached peak athletic (and personal) performance.

Other life changing values include:

Provides hope

Level 4: Social impact

At the top of the pyramid, we’re delivering value not to the individual but to the world at large.

TOMS shoes offers value to someone besides the customer by providing a pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair sold.

Three Ways The Pyramid Can Improve Your Business

1. Create happier customers.
In HBR’s research, brands who scored highly in just four of these thirty elements had higher customer satisfaction ratings than those with just one high score. (More on that methodology in the article.)

In fact, it’s worth noting that even almighty Apple scored high on only 11 of the 30 elements. That’s a good reminder to choose values that are relevant to your target audience, and then focus on executing each particular element well.

2. Analyze and improve existing products.
Sit down with one of your products and consider it in light of each of these values. We’re about to do this with StoryBrand to see how we can add more value to our workshops.

Some of these won’t be relevant for us — for example, don’t hold your breath for the StoryBrand Heirloom Edition. But other questions, like, “How could we provide more insider access for StoryBrand customers?” — could create a major breakthrough.

3. Write stronger sales copy and scripts.
Stuck on your next sales email? Look to the pyramid! Pick one or two elements of value and explore the ways your product or service delivers it. I’ve been doing this as I’ve written sales copy, and it’s like I’ve discovered an all-you-can-eat buffet of marketing angles.

Listen to the mini-episode now, where Nigel, J.J., and I go into more detail about how adding value can help you grow your business. I’d also recommend you read the entire article from HBR. It’s well worth your time and/or lamination budget.

Do Your Customers Know How Valuable Your Product Is?

If not, your sales copy probably isn’t as effective as it could be. We’ve got $250,000 worth of copywriting instruction from master marketer Ray Edwards to help you dramatically improve your sales copy — and it’s yours free!


Podcast produced by: Tim Schurrer
Additional editing by: Nick Jaworski

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