"Value added" is a term that is misused and misunderstood by firms. Not unlike the word "branding" over the last decade or so.
I posted this on AAM's Discussion List (mostly professional CPA marketers sharing ideas) this week after someone posed a question that moved me to articulate the following:
A Q was asked about teaching firm members about "value added" services the firm offers. This isn't an answer to the Q (training specific) but it led me to think about they way people are using the term "value added."
My thinking is that there are two types of "value adds":
1) The "free" type that we bundle/package/include with a service/product to make it stand apart from competitors' otherwise pretty identical services/products by giving the client "more" for the same price. (thus increasing the value, in the client's mind, of the sale)
2) The not free type that we offer to sell a client because it complements what they are already buying. The additional service "adds value" to the initial service in some way.
Within CPA firms, it is often very debatable as to whether the additional service is a value add for the client.
Usually it's used to mean things that are a value add for the firm as in adding to the dollar value of the sale. I suspect a lot of firms use the term "value added" for any service that they think a client should buy.
Whether bundled in with the original puchase or tacked on to the sale for an additional amount, it must absolutely be remembered that it is only a "value added" item when the client feels that way about it. Therefore, the service/product, in itself, cannot actually be a "value added" service.
And it doesn't become one just because we call it that or tell someone it is. Consumers are smarter than that.
"Value added" is in the eye of the buyer. To achieve that, we--as the seller--need to completely understand whether the client needs and values that offering and how they value it (and how MUCH they value it). This is a market research function (working in conjunction with the service providers, of course).
Be very careful how you use the catch-phrase "value add" and make sure you run any usage of it through the litmus test of TRUE value add.
Beware, because "Value Add," continues to be misused by firms, and may well be suffering the same sad, confused fate as the completely misunderstood term "Branding."