It seems that everywhere I turn, the message and advice being proliferated is the same: "Just add value" or "Provide more value."Wondering how to increase your profits? Well, just add value!

Would you like happier clients? Provide them with value!

Want to grow a larger social media following? Simple, add more value!

But what does that mean? How do you add value? This is a generic answer that without context lacks anything tangible that can immediately be put to use. However, I believe that the advice stems from a true desire to help.


This bothered me, so I decided to define what "adding value" means in real ways that people can put into action, rather than leaving them sitting in confusion with a general concept. In order to accomplish this, I wanted a wide range of opinion and reached out to several friends and others with influence to get their take on the subject – a collective brainstorm of sorts. The results are, dare I say, valuable!

So what does it mean to provide value?

1st Value Insight

Stephen Shapiro, best-selling author and one of the foremost authorities on innovation culture, collaboration, and open innovation, shares an interesting opinion:

"The challenge is, value is so context sensitive. There is no generic answer for it.

I agree that if people say ‘add more value,’ they are not really saying much.

But to define value is impossible, as it is so dependent of the situation. Even in the area of sales, you can’t generically define value, as it will depend on your industry, your customer base, etc.

Therefore, from my perspective, adding value is important but I can’t give you a one-size-fits-all definition.

I guess I agree with your position…and yet I can’t give you a definition, as there isn’t 'one'."

2nd Value Insight

"Hi Matt, I define value as ‘the relative worth or desirability of a thing to the end user or beholder.’ In other words, what is it about this "thing" (product, service, idea, etc.) that provides so much worth (value) that the other person not only trades their money for it, but is ecstatic that they did? The key to remember is that ‘value is always in the eye of the beholder.’ To ‘add value,’ then, is to add that which makes the original "thing" even more desirable in the mind of the other person."– Bob Burg, international speaker and best-selling author of "Endless Referrals" and "The Go-Giver".

3rd Value Insight

Amish Shah, Inc. 500 entrepreneur, adventurer and "reality hacker" explains it this way: "One simple rule to increase your ‘value’ and provide ‘value’ to others: Give without expecting anything in return."

4th Value Insight

"Adding value means being an advocate for the true needs and best interests of your client. It means making recommendations or providing service that allows them to become better, stronger and more capable."– Pamela Slim, seasoned coach and writer who helps frustrated employees in corporate jobs break out and start their own businesses.

5th Value Insight

Dan Sullivan, founder and president of The Strategic Coach Inc. says:

"Value creation in the 21st century means providing direction, confidence, and capability where people are feeling isolated, confused, and frustrated."

6th Value Insight

Mark Schaefer is a college educator, blogger, speaker and consultant who specializes in corporate social media marketing workshops. He is the author of three best-selling books, including "Return On Influence." His take on providing value:

"I think it is unrealistic for a company to try to ‘be amazing’ but I do think it is possible to stand out by knowing your customers well and responding better, and faster, than the competition … whether that means through content or something else. I also think there is an imperative to be interesting. Everyone is trying to cut through the increasing fog of information density. There are many strategies, many ideas, but if you are not interesting, you will certainly lose."

7th Value Insight

Tom Trush helps business owners and entrepreneurs develop lead-capturing marketing materials. His definition is short and sweet:

"Adding value means you give priority to your prospects’ needs before you put profit in your pocket."

8th Value Insight

Jeffrey Gitomer, the "King of Sales," says: "Value is what you do up front, before the sale, and what you do during the relationship. You don’t add value – you give value."

9th Value Insight

To me it comes down to goals; does what I am providing help move the audience closer to their objectives or does it move them further away? Don’t waste their time.

Now, I want to hear from you. What’s your value insight?

What does providing value mean to you and how have you used this strategy in your business or life in general?

Being such a general concept, it could be that your contribution helps to shed light on a different angle of value that has not been considered here.

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