Are You Doing a Good Job of Conveying the Value of Personal Histories?

The following article is reprinted with the kind permission of Stephanie Kadel Taras, Ph.D., of  TimePieces Personal Biographies.


I have a 1-year-old rescue puppy, part husky, that pulls so hard on the leash I’ve given up walking her in the neighborhood. My inability to train her right, and my already fragile wrists and elbows from typing too much, left me frustrated and sore. We’ve been going to a fenced dog park, so she can run off leash, but I’ve missed my regular loops around Ann Arbor, especially as spring has bloomed. At the dog park, I heard from other humans about a harness that prevents pulling with the leash clipped in front of the dog’s chest. I was dubious but desperate.

Yesterday, I found the harness at the pet store. It cost 27 dollars! For a few inches of nylon and plastic. I bought it anyway. I tried it this morning, and it’s a minor miracle. My dog stopped pulling instantly, and we had a wonderful, relaxed walk to see the tulips and flowering trees. It was worth 27 dollars. In fact it was  worth 50 dollars to me, but I probably wouldn’t have bought it for that without knowing its value first.

Now, even if I’m generous and estimate the company spends $5 per harness to produce, market, and distribute it, that’s a pretty amazing mark-up. But they understand the value of their product to the desperate dog-walker.

As I walked, I couldn’t help thinking of our work as personal historians and the treasure that we provide our clients. I saw it just last week when the adult daughter of an 83-year-old narrator was speechless after reading the draft of her mom’s book. She held her hand to her heart with tears running down her face, and then just reached out to hug me. Now THAT is value.

So if you’re thinking about what to price your services, after you go through all the necessary machinations of figuring out what you want to earn, what you have to charge, what it costs to produce, and so on, the most important question is: what is it worth to our customers? And are we doing a good enough job helping them realize that worth before they decide whether to buy or not? What will people pay for a minor miracle? If they are able to afford our services at all, they will probably pay a lot more than many of us think.

Photo by Francesco  Negri

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