Master The Value Triangle

Here’s a neat tool you can use to get insight into any offering, any brand, and any client’s needs.

A “sale” is only possible when both parties perceive that the value they are getting  from the trade is greater than the value of the thing they are giving up.

You can view the value in almost any transaction in terms of three primary factors:

  • Speed
  • Quality
  • Cost

These three factors make up “The Value Triangle.” The general principle is that you have to choose between these factors. You can’t have them all.

Here’s how a Value Triangle might look visually. In this example, the triangle is rotated to show that Quality is the #1 priority, Speed is fairly important, and Cost is not an issue.

You can show any balance between the 3 value factors by simply rotating the triangle around its central point. You can’t have all 3 factors as high priority.

Let’s see how you might use the Value Triangle in practice.

Scenario 1: Client’s Requirements

A client comes to a web designer and asks for a web site to be built. They want a good standard, and it needs to be built within a short deadline. Oh, and they only have a small budget.

So they’re asking for all three factors to be high priority. That’s not how the world works.

  • If you want a high standard of result, and you need it soon, you need to be prepared to pay.
  • If you want a good result, and you want it cheap, be prepared to wait.
  • If you want it cheap and quick, don’t expect quality.

To put it bluntly, you might say to that client, “Quick, Cheap, Good – pick two.”

Scenario 2: Positioning a Service

If you’re putting any product or service on the market, people need to know where it fits in relation to what they already know. That’s positioning.

Let’s say you’re marketing your own service (web design, consulting, programming, logo creation, whatever). How would you spin the Value Triangle to represent what you offer?

If I were making a premium web site, I would have something similar to the example above: Quality top, Speed OK, but don’t expect it to be cheap.

But remember, for every client, there’s a corresponding perfect service. I could just as easily market “Speedy & Cheap Web Design” (which you’d expect to be relatively low quality), “Paratroop Web Consultancy” (which would deliver great services at the drop of the hat – but really cost you), or “Good Web Sites for Businesses on a Budget” (in which case those clients would need to wait).

Scenario 3: Project Priorities

You can use the Value Triangle to help you understand and choose between the priorities in any project or transaction. It will also apply to a project you’re running.

In our team, we always have a lot of ideas for things we could do next. If we decide that something has to happen now, the Value Triangle tells us that we either have to sacrifice Quality, Cost, or some balance between the two. If it has to be quick and good, we know we may have to pay to bring in extra help.

I hope you find this really useful in your work, and look forward to your comments.

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