Most of us depend on getting paid for the work we do. Our clients, customers and employers appreciate the products and services we provide, and pay us for them. But what’s our work really worth?

Ultimately, who creates the value? Do we determine the value of our products and services? Do they have inherent value? My opinion is no. What we create has no value in the marketplace except what our clients and customers perceive. They decide whether our work has value, and they decide what it’s worth. A thing is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

When products and services exceed customer expectations, they see value, become repeat purchasers and tell their friends. If we satisfy a need, that’s worth something to them. If our prices seem high or our products don’t get results, they’ll take their business elsewhere. But there’s one more element in creating value.

Communicating value

Value doesn’t exist until it is perceived by the customer. As marketers, we need to see the world from the customer’s point of view, so we understand what’s important to them. Then we can help them see how our products and services satisfy their needs. Those of us with marketing responsibilities help create value by showing customers the personal benefits of our products and services.

We’re in the customer business

So whether we’re in marketing, advertising, product development or sales, we’re really in the customer business. Our jobs have four main components:

Understand the customer’s needs
Provide products and services that satisfy customer needs
Provide a great customer experience
Help customers see the benefits of our products

Without any one of these components — especially the last one — our work has little value. In order to create the perception of value, customers must see how our products satisfy their needs. Marketing, advertising, PR and other communication tactics help customers understand the value of our products. And that perception determines what our products and services are worth.