What is a Value Ladder

Episode 998: What is a Value Ladder, with Jonathon Hensley

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What is a value ladder? Learn the guiding business strategies for maximizing customer value. Let’s find out what is a value ladder.

What is a value ladder? Join us in today’s podcast episode with our special guest, Jonathon Hensley, as he talks about the value ladder and why you need to understand it for your business’s sake.

Jonathon Hensley is co-founder and CEO of Emerge, a digital product consulting firm that works with companies to improve operational agility and customer experience. For more than two decades, Jonathon has helped startups, Fortune 100 brands, technology leaders, large regional health networks, non-profit organizations, and more, transform their businesses by turning strategy, user needs, and new technologies into valuable digital products and services. Jonathon writes and speaks about his experiences and insights from his career, and regularly hosts in-depth interviews with business leaders and industry insiders. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two boys.

Originally from Silicon Valley, Jonathon got into the digital product space inspired by the incredible people developing new technologies all around him and the possibilities they unlocked. This fueled his curiosity to understand how technology transforms the ways in which people live and work.

That curiosity continues to drive him today, as he works to help businesses harness technology. His work focuses on helping leaders define the value they want to create in a succinct and tangible way; where to focus, why, and what it will take to achieve that outcome. His favorite part is going beyond the idea and mapping how you bring together people, data, and processes so that clients can succeed.


What you’ll learn in this episode is about what is a value ladder

  • How growing up in Silicon Valley and with a psychologist mother fueled Jonathon’s fascination for the intersection between human behavior and technology
  • Jonathon defines what is a value ladder and why success hinges upon understanding the value exchange within your business and the problems you can solve for your customers
  • Why your value exchange needs to be perpetual, and how companies like Netflix have used their understanding of the value exchange to innovate new customer experiences
  • What five key steps you can take to better understand, define and measure your value exchange, and how you can use that information to supercharge your business strategy
  • Why Jonathon believes that everything you do and every product you offer should be in service to your customers
  • Why it is critically important to fall in love with the problem, not the solution you’re creating
  • How to use a simple design tool called an “empathy mapping” exercise to generate a holistic picture of your customer’s environment and needs
  • How a staggering 70-95% of all new products and 75-84% of all digital transformation initiatives fail, and why lack of market fit is the number one reason why
  • Why understanding your customer and value exchange is the key to avoiding the dangerous lack of market fit
  • Why understanding the scope of your customer’s problems is crucial for accurately pricing your solutions to those problems


Additional Resources:



What is a Value Ladder: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner.


Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation, where I interviewed today’s top business owners. So we can learn their recipe for success, and how they built and scaled their business. So over the last several weeks, you may have noticed my business partner and I, so my business partner, Eric Jensen, have been investing quite a bit of time Onward Nation, the topic of how to build out a value ladder for your business. So a value ladder can do many things, but in my opinion here, or three of the biggest ones, it gives you an opportunity to be helpful to existing clients, perhaps in new and unique ways. 


Second, it gives you an opportunity to be helpful to prospects who you may have never had the opportunity or chance to work alongside in three. And of course opens up new revenue streams for you and your team. All of which is awesome. Amazing. So Erik and I have walked through and sliced apart Value Ladder as a topic and our weekly, how to fill your sales pipeline open my Q and A’s that we typically host every Wednesday and some of the weekly videos. And we email out on Saturday mornings. So, Onward Nation, you can find all of those videos and the recorded Q and A sessions, and our free Facebook group. We would be honored if you joined us four, one of the live Q and A’s, and we’re going to add the links to all of those free resources at the bottom of today’s show notes. 


But for today’s episode, Onward Nation was going to keep shining a very bright light on your value ladder or your potential value ladder. But in order to help us do that, I invited one of today’s leading authorities in the area of helping companies transform their businesses by turning strategy user needs and new technologies into valuable digital products and services, or aka your value ladder. So Jonathon Hensley is co-founder and CEO of a company called Emerge, which is a digital product consulting firm. 


And for more than two decades, Onward Nation he and his team have helped business owners just like you and me build out the value they provide in the form of digital products and services. Jonathon’s work typically focuses on helping leaders define the value they want to create in a succinct and tangible way where to focus Y, and what it takes to achieve that outcome. Because if we don’t get these areas right onward, you may have experienced this. If you’ve attempted to build out your value, ladder it, and then abandoned the project midstream because we don’t get focused on the why and what it takes to achieve the outcome all properly built out and thought through, then our opportunity for success is greatly diminished. 


Jonathon’s favorite part is going beyond the idea and mapping out how to bring together people, bringing together data, and bring together processes. So you can increase your probability of success. And that’s where Jonathon and I will focus our time and attention today. So you two can move your business Onward to the next level by creating something that is helpful to your clients and profitable for you. So, without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, Jonathon. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Jonathon Hensley’s Introduction


It’s great to be here, and it’s great to be here with all of you from the Onward Nation. Wow. 


So it was great to have you here, my friend. Thank you for saying yes. I’m very much looking forward to the conversation that you and I are going to have. I’m grateful for your time and your willingness to share your insights and expertise. Before we dive into all of the topics that we’re going to cover, take us behind the curtain and tell us a little bit more about you and your path and journey, and then we’ll dive in. 


Sure. So I started off as a Silicon Valley, native growing up in the Bay area. And so what an incredible place to be surrounded by so much creativity and technological innovation taking place my entire life. And what really got me into the industry was I had this really amazing connection with psychology, which is my mom’s psychologist. And so I grew up with you know, that influence. And then it means being surrounded by technology. I became passionate about this intersection between human behavior and technology and how we use technology to improve our daily lives in the way we work. 


And so that intersection actually fueled that trajectory for my entire career and became a labor of love. And it still feels my curiosity for everything I do today. Wow. 


I love that. Okay. So, let me actually give that back to you and make sure I’m tracking with you. So you really understand, or you really enjoy understanding what makes people tick may be some of the decisions that they make and why, and then blending that with this love of technology can you meet that need, or are there needs to be met in those choices being made a for a good result outcomes? Am I tracking with you? 


Absolutely. That is spot on. Yeah. I love that. Awesome. This, this is going to be so great. This conversation that we were going to have around Value Ladder Onward Nation, the whys behind it, and how you can be helpful. So before diving into what is a really, really big topic, when you think of the value ladder Jonathon, what would be your definition of value ladder in, In, and also why it’s important? 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Key to Long-Term Business Success


What is a value ladder? Well, I think understanding the concept of a value ladder is essential. And if I was to distill it down to a point, I would say, we need to understand what the actual value exchange is in our product or a business in order to become successful. If we don’t have a clear understanding of what motivates our customers, what their challenges are, and how we can solve a meaningful problem for them, and a unique and relevant in a sustainable way then the probability of our product or a business being able to thrive, not just one year, but for five years, 10 years or decades is significantly diminished. 


And so understanding that value exchange in how that fits into developing an idea and building something that has the best chances for success is mission critical. 


Totally agree. Onward Nation, I think what is so common is that business owners go about creating what they think is their value exchange, sort of haphazardly. They go out of it. And I’m really looking to get Jonathon’s perspective on this here in just a second; they go at it thinking about how the value exchange benefits them. And, Oh, I need some additional revenue in the second quarter and the third quarter. So I’m going to create this thing and I’m really that on a Sell. and, and we are going to throw this together in, in the reverse of what Jonathon just said. So masterfully about a clear understanding of what motivates them, because if we don’t have that we’re going to fail with whatever that product launch or a service launch is, right? 


A quick answer to what is a value ladder? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if there is no real value exchange how do you get somebody’s attention to even consider or try your product but then how do you actually get them to give you an exchange of money, time, whatever you are asking for, to actually then utilize your product or service and then retain that relationship. And so I think that understanding that value exchange is incredibly important, and it’s usually not a single point of value that value has to be perpetual. So you see a lot as an example of a technology company, right? Your value to Netflix is not watching one movie. 


What is a value ladder? It’s the value of having access to all of their content. And there’s an exchange taking place. They are not competing against another online streaming service. They’re competing for attention in time. They understand motivation and intrinsic needs. It was one said that their number one competitor was sleep. They have a completely different perspective on who their competition is. And so that changes the understanding of the value exchange and what you’re providing. That’s why innovation is about things like being able to binge watch, watch an entire season of your favorite show, and see it all come out at once. Those are our massive innovations and how we absorb content. Those are the kinds of things that you can do when you really understand where the value is in the exchange aspect of, with your customer. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: The Key to Long-term Client Relationships


What is a value ladder? When you said usually not a single point of Value, it’s perpetual. That reminded me of something, a mentor said to me once and said you can certainly apply this to the value ladder. Still, it essentially was thinking about relationships between service providers and clients. And he said, Stephen, you, you can never let your client where, in this case, a Netflix subscriber, you can never let them run out a future. And so I’m wondering why would you agree with that. That ties into like the perpetual ness, if you will, as even a word of what you were talking about with the value exchange? 


Absolutely. I think there are very few products today and you’ll see this, I think continuing with digital transformation is brands are looking for the continuous exchange of value that we can provide. And that requires consistently listening to your customers’ needs, innovating understanding of their problem at a deeper level, and then being able to scale and expand on those indifferent, meaningful ways, you see this in subscription models and how businesses are being are approaching things. You see this even in more traditional businesses. As an example Tesla is not a car company, there is a platform business that uses energy as their main channel of renewable energy. 


What is a value ladder? So, their model is completely different from that of the average car company. No, everybody else has to innovate to catch up. The electric car is not this new idea or Tesla never created that concept. They just happened to execute a platform model that made them so successful with great processes, great people, and a quality product that met a need for there was a fair exchange. 


I totally agree. And I have some relatives who own Teslas in there; what is interesting is groove. What you’re saying about that they’re not a car company, obviously they make cars. Still, it’s, it’s like this other piece too, where they build like this, a community and a sense of belonging and almost like evangelism is so I’ve, I’ve got a couple of cousins who are like, Stephen, your next car needs to be a Tesla. I don’t want a Tesla where it needs to be a Tesla. I don’t want a Tesla. And it is almost like they took a page out of either Harley Davidson’s book or something, but they’ve really created this community around this value exchange. Right? 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Navigating the Core of Business Success


Can you give me an example of what is a value ladder? Right. Absolutely. Well, let’s use Harley Davidson is a great example of a product. I mean, where my expertise lies as a digital product, but at this, at your core, it’s no different, I don’t care. If you’re selling detergent out of grocery stores or your Nordstrom’s, it doesn’t matter. The idea is in Harley Davidson’s case, they’re our core product is freedom. That is the emotional value that they are selling. Every single motorcycle or product they create is an extension of that core product. And that is the following that they have. And then they have an entire series of dish channel services, supplementary products, and services that reinforce both the core product that emotional needs and the actual physical products that they deliver 


Really well said. Let’s go back to something that you were touching on briefly but that really deserves some additional conversation. You mentioned the value exchange, but then you talked about the clear understanding of what motivates them, how to solve the problem, and really understanding the problem, too, that it needs to be solved. So, I know this is going to be an oversimplification, I get it as like asking you, to talk about this huge topic in a couple of little soundbites, I get it. How does the business owner and his/her team start to develop that clear understanding? So I know that is huge, but there are a couple of steps that you think 


What is a value ladder? There’s a gap there definitely gets in your rights. It’s a big topic, but I’m going to touch on three things that I think are really important for anybody. And it doesn’t matter if you are a startup and it’s just you and a friend in your garage, or it’s you’re a Fortune 100 company. The things are the same. So the first one that I think is really important is you need to make sure you educate yourself and have a commanding knowledge of what strategy is because, as something that you and I were talking about earlier, Stephen, there is so much noise out there about do this, get this quick, When follow this process, and that will unlock the next level of your business. 


What is a value ladder? And it’s just not true. It takes hard work. I think there are a lot of frameworks and a lot of quick approaches to a strategy and strategy has now become, unfortunately, very misunderstood, and we need to understand what the core of that really is. So, as an example, I think it’s easier to illustrate what strategy isn’t to start. The first thing is that strategy isn’t ambition. It’s not your mission. It’s not your vision or your core values. It’s not goals, and it’s not planning, planning. It gives people a false sense of security. What’s the schedule? How am I going to approach this? How many units am I going to sell, or how many customers I’m going to engage? 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Building a Vision for Business Success


But if you don’t know the approach to making those things a reality, the obstacles you’ve got to remove to make that possible, the resources you need, and those things are not aligned, That’s a clear indication that there is no strategy in place. And so it’s really important that you anchor everything you do to a foundation of strategy. So let’s do it. It’s a little bit about what strategy is cause this would be the other side to it. Strategy. The foundation of strategy is made up of really five pillars. One is that you have to be really, really clear about the vision for your product. Where do you want to be in, let’s say three, four, five years? 


This concept of something we are all about, a lot of us are very familiar with great authors like Jim Collins wrote good to great talk about your big, hairy, audacious goal. What is that seven-year vision product that needs to start with that same idea? So what is this thing? And it also can’t just be aspirational. It has to be measurable. How will that look like? How are you going to quantify that vision? And that’s really important. The second piece is his understanding of the challenge of understanding this customer and their needs. And So, who are the core customers? 


What is a value ladder? What challenges do they have? What are their motivations? What are they? Oh, the substitutes for your potential solution that you have to compete against these or all, you have to really understand that entire ecosystem. One thing that we use as a tool in helping us understand challenges even better is a process of what we call empathy mapping, but as well, essentially, what you’re trying to do is step into the shoes of your customer from their point of view. And so you might have a great idea, and you may have lived at an experience of it yourself, but that’s one perspective. It’s really important that great products are usually created through a process of co-creation and that involves stepping into the shoes of your customer. 


What is a value ladder? And what that does is that it allows us to challenge our biases and our assumptions. And that becomes really powerful and really important. The other pillar of a great strategy in helping step into the shoes of customers is understanding the near term outcome, what the next step is, and how we are going to look at that successfully. So, we want to look at it from not just what looks successful for you or the business but what looks successful from the point of view of the customer is whether there is enough value being exchanged to move that process forward. Then we look at now to understand the problem, where we want to get to our destination, and what the next step is. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Customer-Centric Strategy


We can look at what we need to focus on. What obstacles do we need to overcome? And do we have a coherent set of actions or things that will allow us to achieve those outcomes? Will it move us forward? Not just to the near term but to the long-term picture. And that alignment and trajectory are really, really critical. So the success, the product into a business, and then last but not least, it’s the pillar of measurement. How will we measure forward progress? This foundation is incredibly powerful, not just for understanding your customers but also for empowering teams. It helps them have clarity and focus and with that kind of foundation, you can build alignment and just accelerate the performance and delivery of great products and services. 


Okay. This is really exceptional. This model that you just shared. So, if you don’t mind, I want to give these five points back to one selfishly cause I wanted to make sure that I got him incorrect in my own notes. This is excellent, but also just in case there are any holes in Onward Nation, business owners’ notes. Okay. So the five points I think I heard you say was point number one. I got to get clear on the vision for the product to understand the challenge, right? Third, where are the near-term outcomes for a focus on what actions to take? And then five, the measurements. 


You nailed it. That’s all five. Okay. So when you go through these five, I literally wrote in the margin, my notes, I put in parentheses. I’m like, this is not a 10-minute note-taking session; write this. This requires deep analytical thought. And I love how you were pushing the pressure or putting pressure on and really emphasizing the point of view or the customer through all of that. 


What is a value ladder? Everything has to be in service of the customer products are in service of a fulfilling a need. There is no need to buy a product or service if it doesn’t actually solve a problem for the customer. And so we put an entire, ton of emphasis on that challenge part. I think the other areas are a little bit easier for most entrepreneurs in larger organizations, but it’s really getting to the root problem that you’re solving, really not just understanding the symptomatic issues, right, but really understanding the real impact in the substance of a problem for a customer that is, is key. And we see it all the time, the greatest and most successful product teams, fall in love with the problem and not the solution that they are creating. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Understanding Customer Interactions


There are constant students learning about how this problem impacts that customer and how they can solve it better. And that helps them evolve and continuously challenge themselves to improve that product in a meaningful way. And I think one of the, the other tools I mentioned that I would talk about three, the third one that I think is really important as one, we’re understanding that challenge. We like to think of a strategic approach to how we design experiences as a part of understanding that. So when we’re mapping a customer’s experience and understanding the impacts of a challenge and how we can solve for that, you were looking at what are the moments in their life along their journey that they’re going to interact with, need to interact with your product or service. 


And then in those moments that are interactions taking place and then supporting those interactions are content and features. So I think that a lot of time it’s easy to jump right to content and features, but those content and features will not be specific enough if we don’t understand the moments in the interactions that need to take place. 


Well, because if we’re jumping to those things that you just mentioned, then we’re doing the exact opposite of falling in love with the problem, not the solution. Right. Exactly. Okay. So, the empathy mapping really super intriguing. I’ve not heard of that topic or a concept before, or maybe it’s widespread, and it was just new to me. Ah, but it sounds really interesting. So my question to you is with empathy mapping, a cool term, is that literal from a visual perspective, like as it is literally a map. 


It is. So it’s a really easy exercise. I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it. It’s real, it’s more common in the product design space and experience design space, and it’s a design tool, but it’s a design tool that anybody can use. You don’t have to be a designer to leverage, this tool. So the concept of it is you are looking at what is your customer’s ultimate goal. And then you’re looking at what are the things that they need to do all the tasks and what are they seeing? What are they hearing? What do you know? And so you’re getting a perspective of the entire environment that they’re in. And so as you map out all of these different pieces, you start to get a more holistic picture of the customer’s environment what they’re dealing with, what their challenges are, and what their needs are in those moments. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Uncovering Customer Insights for Better Decisions


We loved the tool because it’s a great way to work with a product team or to work with an entrepreneur and their leadership team to say, okay, we’re going to you, and you loved your business. You are passionate about it. You have all of this institutional knowledge. It’s invaluable, lets pull it all out from you. Let’s document it from all of your unique experiences and perspectives. When we do customer research, we’re going to validate it or find out where the holes are. Okay. So we can’t do that without starting with this map. We need a foundation of understanding. How do you think your customer thinks? Oh, do you really understand those motivations? The things that drive them to make a decision to buy and use your product or service 


That that was a really big there because when, when you were talking a few minutes ago about empathy mapping, you mentioned stepping in the shoes of your customers in their point of view, and then you went to say challenge bias and assumptions. So that’s how you challenge biases, biases, and assumptions by collecting if you like primary research or firsthand research from the stakeholders as project stakeholders. But then it sounds like you’re also going out into the field and collecting data and either validating or contradicting what you learned through the internal discovery process. And I know he didn’t say internal discovery. I’m throwing that in there, but it is in my tracking with you here to know that 


No, it’s absolutely accurate. I mean, our whole approach and thinking is that we want to accelerate the pace at which we can make great decisions. And we can only do that if we have great information. And so we need to make sure that our information is trusted and is something that we can count on as we iterate and develop products and services as a company, as we support our clients and as we provide information to support others. So, we look at those types of tools as being absolutely mission-critical. I will say that it’s grounded in, psychology as well. ’cause when we look at that empathy layer, I think empathy is one of those things that sometimes can be looked at as kind of a nice to have, or maybe kind of a touchy-feely kind of thing. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Transforming Products with User Insights


And it’s far from it; it’s a hard skill that absolutely drives business success. You know, I remember moments where you can be in a room, I’ll give you an example. So we were working with a university and we were hired to help them develop a whole ecosystem of a product. The core of that was going to be the website, How in Online Education. And we were, it was a very high profile school with a lot of pressure on young minimum are coming in to dive in this education. And many of them have moved away from home to be there. 


And so we’re looking at all of these best practices in all of these things and, or sitting in the cafeteria of all places. And we hear a student who’s having a conversation with their parents and they’re just in utter, just, distraught. Oh no. And we’re, we were like, what’s going on? And it just caught us cause it was kind of on the fringe, right? It’s not like and we weren’t trying to use drop, and we walked over and just checked on them. We said that was everything okay. And you know what? She’s just like, the stress is so much here. It’s so intense. And it was like the light bulb went off in order to help these students be as successful as possible. 


They are in a very high-stress, new environment. And these professors are incredibly gifted and talented. We need to look at how we actually have an empathetic way of designing products or services that remove stress so that they have the capacity to focus on the other things that are needed. And so that reshaped a trajectory of our feature set in our content and really made me realize there are a lot of fundamental questions when you’re new in a new city with a new environment, and potentially have no friends yet. And what do you do? How do you navigate this incredibly large life experience that changes the product that all started with empathy you never know where it is going to come from, but you have to get out there with your user. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: The Impact of Strategy on Business Evolution


It was a great example of stepping into the shoes of their cup of tea, of the customer in this case, the undergrad student, and really understanding things through their lens, through their point of view, a super valuable, and that will hopefully put the value exchange on target. So, what I’m curious about is, now let’s say that we’re developing this clearer understanding going through the five points of strategy and challenging bias and assumptions, having a really, I think a better, maybe a better understanding of value exchange. 


How often does this happen? The business owner says, Hey, Emerge, we got this idea for this thing. I want to create a blah-blah-blah. And so it’s, it’s this, then you go through the process and it ends up being that like the entire thing changes because of the process and the assumptions that were challenged in the data collected and really the thought process that you put through strategy. It happens 


All the time means it’s very, very common. And I think the challenge with it is that if there isn’t that willingness to reassess and adapt or pivot that you find so often that your initiative is, is it less successful than you had hoped? I mean, the statistics are just not in the favor of anyone embracing this process without do diligence and let, let me paint a little picture there. So, depending on what stacks you look at, products typically, 70 to 95% of new products fail. Holy bananas. Really. 


Absolutely. And what’s staggering on top of that is between 75 in 84%, statistically, of all digital transformation initiatives fail. So I’ll put that in context with some dollar amounts it’s projected by 2023, accelerated because of the events of last year that digital transformation spend will roughly be $6.8 trillion. Now, if we follow the statistics on average, 80% of that six, $8 trillion will be spent on failed digital transformation and product initiatives. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: A Four-Bucket Approach


That’s a staggering amount of money, time, resources, or passionate people who are pouring their hearts into their work. And there are a lot of common reasons for why that fails. The number one thing that’s usually cited is lack of market fit in that market fit because it starts with not understanding your customer. 


And, it goes right back to what you said at the beginning. Gotta get the value exchange, right? Right. Absolutely.  Okay. So perhaps a definition here it would be helpful selfishly for me to so digital transformation, when you’re thinking of those two words, digital transformation. What are you putting in that bucket? Like how do you break that? All right. 


So, that’s a great question. It is a big bucket, but I like to look at it in kind of four major categories. How do we build products and services that empower your employees? How do we build products and services that are engaging your customers? How do we build internal products and services that help you optimize your operations and what are the products or services that we are developing that transform your physical product? So as an example, what is amplifying the value of your product today? You know, so maybe you have a physical product that will just use Teslas. 


For example, the software side of their car is super important. I think anybody who owns a Tesla knows this. If you don’t want a Tesla, it’s a huge benefit to them. And when I see it in the beginning and it’s a platform ’cause, they can push a software update to your car in your car automatically has new features. So cool. It’s incredible. All right, but that’s the power of a platform model versus having this self-contained product With that, maybe have no additional value after the sale unless I add these other things. And so people are rethinking that physical product and how we can do these things is absolutely this huge open space of opportunity right now. 


And so when I talk about digital transformation, these are the four buckets I’m really talking about. And there are, there are massive investments being made that support that like infrastructure around the internet and your networking and other in telecommunications and other things like that, are also part of that. But the main essence of it is really in that product transformation in those four areas of use. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: The Roadmap to Business Success


This was so awesome. I know that we’re quickly running out of time, but as you were explaining digital transformation and then the piece of Before, about how it happens all the time where whatever the original concept was ends up changing. As a result of the rigor of this process, it makes me think of what you said at the beginning of our conversation in that is I I’m going to paraphrase here, but you know, Onward Nation, we need to stop looking for that silver bullet. We need to stop looking for that super fast wind, thinking that that is going to be the easy path to eight figures or whatever it is if it starts with the customer and understands the value exchange in Jonathon, just map out that process beautifully. 


I mean, he gave you the roadmap. So it is hard and it should be hard, right? Jonathon 


And it’s absolutely hard. I mean, there’s tons of competition out there. There’s I think we just have to realize that it’s, it’s important to roll up your sleeves and do that hard work. I mean, you said it perfectly when you said there is no silver bullet. And I think the easy thing is to skip some of the strategic work or not complete it because it’s really hard work. It really forces us to step out of ourselves into the shoes of other people. It forces us to look at big macro issues in the environment, in the economy and you know, the competitive landscape, and a lot of the information that sometimes we seek to really understand an issue is not available to us. 


So when we have those holes, we draw from our personal experience to fill those gaps and that’s normal. That’s human nature. But I think what’s really important is we have to move past that, and we have to start to fill those gaps with external insight that’s actionable. And what you see is the best products usually have some sort of unique insight about you know, This core audience that they can really, they have a way to connect with in an, in a really meaningful and relevant, sustainable way. And that drives their organizations. And so there’s a great quote from Jeff Bezos. You know, we’re stubborn on vision, but we’re flexible on details. 


You know, it’s that idea of once you really understand what you can offer somebody and you know how you can create that value, you can go to work on it, and you can take, you can explore the opportunities and all the different ways to get there. And there may be 10 ways to solve that problem. If there’s one unique way, you can do it. And that unique element can be a game changer in the marketplace. And so you’ve got to be you, but you’ve got to do that foundational work first. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: A Critical Component of Strategy


Yeah, this is great. Okay. So you’re probably going to be mad at me because I’m saving this big Motsa ball for the ed, and that is about pricing strategies. So it would probably be what GC is for once you bring up pricing and when we have more time. So what I’m curious about is my guess is yes, but maybe not. So, as somebody, as a business owner, is thinking, okay, I’m going to go through that process and think about product X, Y, or Z, how much do I charge for this thing? Is that something that comes out of when you’re developing a clear understanding of what you’re going through, the five points of strategy? Does pricing, is pricing part of that discovery work, or does that come later or before that it comes into play? 


Okay. So if we don’t understand the scope of the problem, we can’t actually fairly assess the actual value exchange that’s taking place if we solve that problem for the customer. So we need that information to inform our pricing strategy and how we’re gonna model that, are we going to provide tiered pricing based on service as a value basis, or are we doing it at a time and materials because we have direct access to the large amounts of labor? Are we going to innovate and do something completely different in this space? And it really depends on what business you’re in, right? I mean, law firms have built by ours, and you know, their inventory is his time. And what if you have a niche market where you can maybe the total market is not very big, but the problem that you’re solving is really critical? 


Well, you need your price to reflect the fact, have the size of your market, their buying power, and the propensity to have competition, enter that market. So you can continuously innovate and then drive that value exchange over time. So you need to really make sure that you have this foundational information and be able to start to ask those kinds of questions and look into these kinds of different strategies that you might offer. And so that’s really important some products have a short shelf life so it okay that they understand there is going to be high turn out of those units or of that service offering other things that are built to last for years, if not a decade or more. 


So, that’s an entirely different business model that you have to take into account when you’re thinking about pricing so that you have not yet. Yeah. Great conversation. Thank you in helping us walk through that piece because I know it’s a huge topic. We can probably have a couple of interviews just on pricing strategy. We can spend quite a bit of time there. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework


What is a Value Ladder: Last Bit of Advice and Connect with Jonathon


So before we go, before we close out and say goodbye and anything you think we might’ve missed, any final advice you’d like to share? And then please tell Onward Nation of business owners the best way to connect with you, Jonathon. 


Well, I think the topics we covered or there, I know there are big, and I would just say to everyone, Onward Nation listening that embraced the hard work, it is so worth it. And I have to say that when you spend more time with customers, its one of the most rewarding things I think you can do. And it’s outside of a lot of people’s comfort zones. So go for it. ’cause a lot of your key competitors won’t be doing it. And so if that’s, I think, a huge advantage in both starting out or improving a product, if we already have something in that’s out today in the world 


And you want to see it become something bigger and better. So I would say that. And then if people want to follow some of the work that we do or stay in touch, it’s a great resource to go to, EmergeAgency.com. We have an insight section there on the site that has tons of information on product development strategy approaches to design and develop your products and services as well as reaching out to me on LinkedIn. I love connecting with folks and I can share with other Resources or insights if you reach out and let me know what you’re looking for. 


Awesome. Okay. Onward Nation, no matter how many times you go back and listen to Jonathon’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do, you have to take this strategic blueprint, this empathy mapping process, and everything that he was so generously shared with you. 


You have to take it and apply it. And when you do, you’ll accelerate your results. Jonathon, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day. I am grateful that you said yes to being so generous, to being a two-guest on our show, to be our mentor and guide during this conversation, and to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend. Thank you so much for having me or with an app. 


Your honor, this episode is complete. So head over to OnwardNation.com for show notes and more food to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 


What is a value ladder? Elevate your knowledge about the value ladder and find right-fit client by applying our “ROI of Community” Framework

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