Picture defining value proposition
Image via Sacha Chua. Creative Commons license.

I recently read a post on LinkedIn’s publishing platform (what are they calling it these days? It used to be called “Pulse”) in which a person compared freelancers (not only writers, but all freelancers in general) to bunches of spinach. I’m deliberately leaving out details and a link to the post because I don’t want this guy to get any additional publicity, nor do I want to engage in an online slap-fest with him. I said my piece in the comment thread on his post, but I wasn’t willing to leave it at that. Hence, this rebuttal.

Anyway, the author of the LinkedIn post equated ‘value’ with ‘price.’ To wit: If I find a bunch of spinach in one grocery store for 50-cents and another bunch of spinach in a different grocery store for $1, I obviously should buy the 50-cent bunch of spinach because it’s a “better value.”

Au contraire, mon frere.

You might find this conflation of price and value surprising, coming from a so-called ‘marketing expert,’ until you learn the author of the article works for an online freelancer ‘marketplace,’ in which you pay a princely fee for the privilege of underbidding other freelancers to land gigs that pay a pittance. I won’t deny I hate such sites and routinely warn newbie writers away from them. The author of the LinkedIn piece had a vested interest in aligning the concept of ‘value’ with ‘price’ because he wants freelancers to think of value in exactly those terms (i.e.: that a ‘lower price’ equals ‘better value’).

But freelancers are not bunches of spinach. We are not homogeneous. Each of us brings unique skills and talents to the table.

That is why you must never, ever think of value as price. Don’t. Do. It.

What the heck is value, then, if it’s not price?

In  marketing terms, value used to be called the ‘unique selling proposition (USP).’ Today, we call it the ‘value proposition.’

As a writer, your value proposition is the thing that differentiates you from every other writer out there. Your value proposition defines the, well, value you bring to the client. The value proposition is not generic. ‘Value’ is not “cheap,” “easy,” or “good customer service.” Value might be “delivers clean copy on the first pass” or “the nurse who knows marketing” or “knows NCQA guidelines inside and out – so you don’t have to.”

The one thing value is NOT is price. Price is the sum a client will pay for your value. It’s that simple.

So don’t be fooled by so-called marketing experts who tell you ‘value’ and ‘price’ are the same thing. Don’t believe something just because you read it on The Internets. Always, always read articles (including this one!) with healthy skepticism — and look for corroborating or contradictory evidence elsewhere before filing information away as “fact” in your cranial vault.

Would you like to share your value proposition in the comments thread? What distinguishes you from all the other freelance health and medical writers out there?

Wishing you well!