Did you ever use a phrase, then realize that you are no longer sure what it means? Like “added value.” We learned in Management 101 that added value was what happened during manufacturing. For example, take a piece of copper and roll it into sheets. Then cut it to length, put it through a sheet metal bending brake, and you have customized copper flashing. That’s added value in manufacturing. Time, materials, machinery, and expertise. Looks good, works as it is intended. Lasts forever.
But the term has become broader to embrace the service industry. It’s how the neighborhood hardware store competes with Walmart.
Experience is intangible but it contributes to added value. The silver-haired veteran may not land at the top of the interview pile, but they are the go-to person when a business runs into trouble. Help! Get us out of here! Correct it. Solve the problem. When management turns into leadership, that’s added value.
I have a friend who has been a hairstylist for over 30 years. Color? She knows color. Many is the time when a teary-eyed young client sits in her chair, begging for the correction to make it right. The picture on the box that she had taken home from the drugstore, well it didn’t quite match up to what she saw in the mirror. A couple of hours later, the clouds part, the sun shines through, tears dry, and all is right for Saturday night. That’s added value.
But what of the non-emergency situation? In what other circumstance does added value make a difference? Often it appears in avoided opportunity costs, and reputation management. Some of the qualities that comprise added value include:
- Responsive—delivery, on time.
- Collaborative—requires active listening.
- Presentation of options—relies upon depth of experience and awareness of bleeding-edge practices.
- Quality assurance—testing, editing, proofing, trial runs; all require time that is factored in from the start.
- Effective business communication—combines an understanding of urgency, audience, and accountability to save time, money, and protect your reputation.
Effective Business Communication
Business is built on trust and communication, so effective communication provides added value. It includes active listening and the understanding of three critical components:
In marketing and communications it’s our job to know the target audience and their wants, needs, and desires. We need to be responsive listeners. And to collaborate with our colleauges. The marketing director gets the full set of details, and the company’s executives, well—they get the executive summary.
The urgency of anything is contextual, and depends on understanding the consequence of success or failure. Added value requires an understanding of urgency, and responding in kind.
- Ownership (a.k.a. Accountability)
This is delegation. A team effort requires that numbers 1 and 2 above are addressed for effective communication to take place. But when many are involved, one must assure that a feedback loop is clear to move forward and avoid losing momentum.
Added value is not just something that happens in manufacturing. It can be how effective communication saves time, money, and protects your reputation.