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January 18, 2009

The value of scarce

People will pay more for something that is scarce, particularly if it adds value.

This is one of the driving reasons why people pay for gold and (increasingly) for silver. And it is one of the reasons why people will not pay (en masse) for news.

News is not scarce, news is abundant. news is everywhere. After every event every news site comes alive with essentially the same story, just a different slant maybe. I don't pay for news, I pay for research and niche news. The stuff that isn't out there in mainstream.

And if news ever becomes scarce, due to a cataclysmic culling of the news industry, then I might pay for it online again. But not today. (I am considering a subscription to a paper called The Financial Review . it has rare business news for Australia - my present market space.)

Opinion is not scarce either - but the good ones are. Why is Seth Godin the ringmaster of the worlds marketing game? His views are insightful, fresh and we can all relate to them.

This makes them pretty scarce, if they weren't people wouldn't throw them into Twitter by the dozens every time he writes something.

Scarce and value adding is the opposite of a commodity. Are you just another HR consultant looking to offer advise on succession planning? Then you are just offering another mechanical approach to a common problem, just like everyone else. Nothing scarce in that.

Scarcity means you have something that only a few possess. A large, focused and well maintained network of contacts. A combination of rare skills. Extremely hard to get experiences. A track record of astounding achievement, supported by a list of publications also touting you as an expert.

You aren't a project manager - you are a project manager with scarce abilities and experience or you are just another resume on the pile.

You aren't a consultant, you are a consultant with a known brand and a line of people fighting to sing your praises.

You aren't a writer - you are somebody who puts life into dry themes like engineering, as proven by your following.

If you are scarce, people will pay what you are worth. If you are not scarce then you have to be cheap, that is the only place for commodities to differentiate themselves after all isn't it.