Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dollar Store mentalities.

Last night, I attended a mini high school reunion.

When reconnecting with old friends, discussion always turns to questions about what you do for a living? Of course, this discussion often turns into the trials and tribulations of your industry in today’s global marketplace and the effect of the current economy.

Speaking with Ken, a long-time friend, I mentioned that the biggest challenge in my career today is trying to educate new clients on why they should spend more money marketing their business than what they spend to have the oil changed in their car. Simply put, people seem to want all their marketing materials produced for next to nothing.

Upon hearing this, Ken remarked “it’s because in today’s world, we have dollar store mentalities.”

This sentence from his lips stopped me cold.

“Brilliant” I thought.

Let me explain…

Dollar stores have sprung up everywhere. There’s a reason for this. It’s because we all visit them. In today’s marketplace, let’s face it, many want stuff done on the cheap. Quality in many instances doesn’t matter. In some cases, you may actually get a deal. But is the quality on most of the items actually there? If you were looking at purchasing a good brassiere, would you buy one from “Dollar Dollar Dollar”? (I just made this name up BTW). Did the cheap manufacturing job overseas (which put many in your country out of work I might add) give you exactly the quality that you were looking for?

Case in point, you buy your child a bolo bat. You get it home, they play with it twice, and it breaks. The ball comes straight off the elastic. Going by Ken’s “dollar store mentality”, do you go to a higher end store and buy your upset child a decent bolo bat for a few extra dollars that won’t break? No. You go right back to the dollar store, complain, and bring home another one which will immediately break again.

It’s not money well spent. Spending a few extra dollars the first time on much better quality is money well spent. What you’re doing is just throwing money away on cheap crap that won’t work.

Relating this to advertising and design materials/communications, many clients don’t see the value in paying a great designer $1000 to market their business when they can get the cheap “dollar store” version produced for $250. Of course, most of the time, there is a huge difference in the quality and when the $250 version doesn’t work, they will not only go back and complain, they will find somebody else to do another horrible $250 version, instead of originally paying $1000 for someone MUCH better that will deliver a piece that will meet the required objectives. Recently, I had a wealthy client ask me why he should pay me $1000 to produce a direct mail piece when he can get somebody to do the job for $250?

I immediately asked him if he had an accountant for his business?

“Yes” he answered.

I asked if this accountant does his income tax?

“Yes” he replied.

I continued… “why do you use an expensive accountant when you can go to the mall and use one that sits in a kiosk for $50”?

I could see the wheels begin to turn in his head.

“Well”, he answered, “if I’m going to spend $1000 with you I want you to GUARANTEE that my business will explode”.

“I can’t do that” I answered.

He looked at me angrily (and completely puzzled). “Why not?”

“Let me put it this way” I replied. “Let’s say you (god-forbid) get cancer. You have a choice. You can go to a $100 an hour doctor who’s mediocre, or you can go to a $1000 hour doctor who’s highly recommended and has a great success rate. Which one are you going to use for your treatment?”

“The $1000 doctor” he answered.

“Of course you are” I responded.

“Is he going to guarantee that you’re not going to die?”

As a long time, somewhat reputable, higher-earning professional in this business, I have to educate new clients and have these conversations with them on an ongoing basis.

Why would I use your services when I can easily get cheaper?

Of course, they will also be sure to show me the last piece that was designed by said cheaper designer and it’s seriously atrocious.

“This is good, no?” they ask me?

My first response to that is “did it work?”

“Not so well.” they answer.

Of course, they are now coming to me for a new piece that WILL work but they are looking to spend the exact same amount of money again.

Dollar store mentalities.

When will they stop being surprised when they pay bottom dollar and it doesn’t work?

I have two favourite sayings. I use them often.

“You get what you pay for”.

And “the poor always pay twice”.

Until next time, keep dreaming.


Anonymous said...

This problem will never go away.

DesignFacet said...

Really liked your examples. Sadly this is the (cheap) trend that is ongoing.

Eboni said...

This is a great way to demonstrate these points. I enjoyed reading it and will pass it on.

It's a constant battle and I have stopped trying to work it out.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie, I saw your post yesterday on Facebook and read this. Thought it was spot-on and very well written. I read part of it to my husband as we were driving in the car, actually. I especially liked the memorable line, "The poor pay twice." My husband even got to use it on me last night when I complained about the service I was getting from a vendor I hired . . . sheesh!

Danita Reynolds said...

Succinct and to the point, you've described the dollar store mental behavior completely. I've found that these are the same people who will make a million changes and expect unrealistic deadlines too. Thankfully, I'm in the position to not take on clients like this any more. For me it's all about having a meaningful business relationship with clients that appreciate the difference between dollar store crap and Pottery Barn finery.

Paul Murray said...

Great way of looking at the situation.

Trying to explain to people what exactly goes into a professional design that doesn't go into a cheap one (kerning for example, or even just basic research) is frustrating since most people don't seem to care. They're still thinking of the design as a final product they're trying to get as cheap as possible.

They don't realise that it's not viable for a professional to create a logo for an incredibly low price simply because of the amount of work that goes into it.

Sadly when these 'logo supermarkets' are claiming to offer the same level of design as a professional, which a lot of people don't realise simply isn't true.