A Value Prop Wake-Up (Issue 953)

In which we are encouraged to reconsider rigorously, clarify, and communicate our value.

My dad’s family business has been education. Going back 150 years, we’ve been teachers. My great grandfather and great grandmother were public school teachers and school administrators. Family lore includes stories of my grandfather Miller sitting next to his mother, then a public school superintendent, bouncing along over rough Kansas roads in a horse-drawn buckboard as she drove from school to school to check on things.

My grandfather was a university professor. My father was a university professor. And, while I strayed… I went into corporate training,  the odd duck in the lineage…I’ve long been steeped in the value of universities.

And, there’s been a shift. You might have seen it coming with the 2012 launch of the Harvard-MIT EdX platform. The Covid-19 experience has DRAMATICALLY accelerated this shift. Many universities, Harvard included, will be “virtual only” for both undergraduate and graduate students beginning this summer. Students are requesting/demanding tuition fee reductions.

In a recent column, Scott Galloway, writing in the New York Intelligencer, wrote,

[With the Covid-19 changes] “The value of education has been substantially degraded. There’s the education certification and then there’s the experience part of college. The experience part of it is down to zero, and the education part has been dramatically reduced… [And yet, universities] are still…saying, ‘We’re going to maintain these prices’ for what has become, overnight, a dramatically less compelling product offering…”

University economics professor Bradford DeLong commented (emphasis added)

“America’s colleges and universities are highly, highly effective as teaching institutions: we boost people’s incomes by about 7% for each year attended …. But… we do not really understand how we do it...”

Galloway concluded: “Ultimately, universities are going to partner with companies to help them expand…Big-tech companies are about to enter education…”

In other words, education delivery will be more expansive, prices will come down, and more colleges will close.

For the rest of us – bankers, educators, attorneys, small business owners, consultants, trainers, coaches, CPAs:  Big-tech firms have already entered our spaces and, as their technology expands,  this is one more wake-up call for us  to:

  • Understand the value we generate and how we do it, and
  • Price, communicate, and sell the value we generate

…so we’re not trying (and good luck with that) to maintain our prices for value propositions that have become dramatically less compelling.

Nick Miller trains banks and bankers to help small businesses thrive by guiding them to good financial practices and leveraging the full range of their banks’ capabilities. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.


Bradford DeLong How are We Supposed to Teach? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/06/my-day-job-as-a-professor-is-teaching-people-at-the-college-level-americas-colleges-and-universities-are-highly-highly-effe-1.html

Scott Galloway: How Coronavirus Will Disrupt Future Colleges & Universities https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/scott-galloway-future-of-college.html:

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