BUSINESS ENERGETICS: naming and appreciating intangible value

Nina Geraghty

Today I saw a small bag made entirely out of tiny, silver glass beads. It was beautiful, simple, elegant. I can’t imagine how long it took to make, the number of years it took to develop the level of skill to make such a thing, the love and care that went into the making of it.  It was priced at R4300.  That seemed about right and much as I loved it, I also thought it might be considered over-priced by many.

Don’t we love a bargain, a sale, a discount! I think about that word; discount. It literally means ‘not counted’… an element of what went into making something is no longer part of the total price consideration. Instead, you feel lucky when you buy it. You scored. You got it for less.

When a physical product is costed, though we may not want to acknowledge it (rare metal mining, sweatshops, plastics  etc) , nevertheless, we understand the supply chain concept: design, materials, labour to make it, packaging, transport, warehousing, distribution, the cost of retail, each step adding on a margin of profit. When customers are willing to pay the end price, you have a successful product.

When you provide an intangible service or a work of art, things change. Some elements of the supply chain become invisible. Say you offer a service writing blogs for a client.

  1. What’s the word for the time, energy and reflection you put into acquiring a ‘depth of understanding of how a client’s business functions’ first, so you can write from this understanding? How much is that worth?
  2. What’s the word for your ability to perceive intention in another;  ‘the skill of being able to articulate the true purpose of an individual or organisation’ and write words that are freighted with that understanding and is reflected in the piece you’re writing?
  3. What’s the term for the time and energy you put into creating interpersonal rapport with your client so you can give him or her ‘the feeling that you really understand where they’re coming from and your deep appreciation for the service or product they want to provide their customers’?  This gives your client a feeling of confidence and security working with you. What is that worth in monetary terms?
  4. What’s the word for the time, energy and thoughtfulness you take to experiment and play with different words, word placements, phrase interactions to finally reach the best articulation of the concept your client is asking you to convey?
  5. What is the term for describing the years of experience you’ve acquired, the years of self-learning that have gone into the skills you have developed and honed to provide the intelligence behind the writing service you offer today? What is that worth?

At the end of the transaction, all most clients will see is the end-product: a 650-word blog on a page. The human energetic labour of the 5 points above, remains largely unseen and is certainly not itemised in the invoice presented.  That’s because there is no commonly understood terminology for this kind of subtle, energetic contribution.

Are you ever tempted to discount your own pricing because you took too much time – contemplating, thinking, reflecting on, playing with ideas – because you fear your client won’t pay for ‘that’?   It’s time to start naming – and valuing -  the intangible elements that go into our services.

How we love ‘fast’

I’m not afraid CHAT GPT is going to replace me as a copywriter because my skills don’t reside in just writing intelligibly structured words. The only reason people fear AI is because they don’t grasp the importance of what AI can’t do; can never deliver except as a cold machine-constructed facsimile: emotional warmth and understanding, interpersonal connection, an appreciation of beauty, the alchemical magic that comes from inspired creativity.

What remains to be seen is how much the world values and is willing to pay for the qualities that make our work quintessentially human.  AI is here to stay; so are humans.  What will differentiate us?

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