Scarcity and Value (and BPM)

  • February 18, 2010
  • Scott

Great article from Jeff Jarvis advising companies with nonphysical goods to stop selling scarcity and start selling value. It is a principle that can be applied to a great many businesses, not just the “Web 2.0” world, but as he points out, education and consulting as well.

His advise to advertising businesses: sell the outcome, don’t sell the scarcity of your space!In the Content world, he points out that content just isn’t scarce any more.  The existence of this blog is actually just one more data point to that effect!  Information is not scarce either – with Google at our fingertips. He goes on:

Thus we have performers and consultants. There is still value in unique performance. We will continue to buy tickets to concerts by stars (but we won’t pay for the Muzak covers of their songs on elevators). We will buy books. We will pay to sit in a movie theater with popcorn. The new competition in the case of media and performance isn’t that someone will make a good-enough version of what we do but that there is more call for the public’s attention.

Quality is a scarcity. But it is a real scarcity.

The challenge is, there has to be recognition that:

  • You (your company, your product, your content, etc.) represent quality, and
  • Your level of quality is discernably and valuably differentiated from other sources of similar product, content, expertise, etc.

In BPM, we’re suffering a scarcity of BPM-related skills.  We already have a general shortage of technical skills in the world, but on top of that, having the technical skills combined with the understanding of business and process improvement – we’re talking about a real scarcity for the right talent and skills.  But as I’ve argued previously, BPM isn’t hard because it is rocket science – each component task we do in BPM isn’t hard – its hard because knowing the right combination of tasks is a subjective, judgmental activity that depends on experience.

But the *real* scarcity isn’t the BPM bonafides.  The real scarcity is quality BPM skills and personnel.  Because what we’re selling isn’t truly our hours of labor.  What we’re truly selling is the outcome: a successful BPM deployment; a successful BPM program; or a successful transfer of skills and methods to a COE. My shorthand for this is that our customers are buying success.

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  • sfrancis

    Interestingly, same day I see this post on the commoditization of content and how to cope- give away the first one, expect to “pay” for the opportunity to influence and inform… (on business mind hacks). Well, its a bit targeted at content businesses, but still interesting regarding scarcity or lack thereof…

  • I agree with you, which is why I pay so much attention to Active Endpoints – it's the people, the work and the outcomes that are important. This doesn't need to be complicated because the whole point is to eradicate the complexity and replace it with logic and common sense.