‘But it only cost a dollar!’

You’re at a yoga class. You’ve just gotten in a complex pose and nailed it. All of a sudden, in that moment of calm and joy, you feel it. The band of your pants (which you found for $7!) begins to roll down and you’re seconds away from an incident.

Or you saw a hair color you love on a celebrity, so you take it to the place that advertises color service for $20, full of hope and excitement. And instead of the astounding auburn color you expect, you’re just astounded.

Or you have a cousin who is going overseas and can buy bootleg DVDs for a $1 and you ask for the last season of the West Wing. And just as you’re getting to the final few episodes, the discs no longer work.

But it only cost a dollar, right? What’s the big deal?

These examples (one of which may have happened to yours truly) illustrate choosing the quick way to “success.” Rather than investing the time and money to finding the right product for a need, several cheap or inadequate versions are purchased. But they don’t do the job the way you want them to, so you finally buy the one you should have bought in the first place. That $1 item now cost $50 and hours of wasted time and energy.

When deciding to purchase a new product or service, don’t just take into account the sticker price. Consider the following:

  1. What need does the product have to fulfill? Let’s say you own a mirror showroom and those mirrors need to be cleaned daily. The product you purchase should be able to clean and dry each mirror.
  2. How much do you want to spend? I know, this may be little contradictory to what I’ve written thus far, but stick with me. You do need to have a budget in place. If you can’t afford to pay for the $2,500 glass cleaning machine, that’s one issue. If you don’t want to pay $2,500, that’s another.
  3. How do you plan to make the purchase? Sure, you can go to the store to pick up glass cleaner and paper towels. But you own a mirror showroom. You could end up doing that three times a week. Is there a local supply house that could deliver the products instead? Explore all options.
  4. What’s the actual cost of the product? That’s just the cost of paper towels and the cost of glass cleaner, right? WRONG. How many paper towels are you using? How many times do you have spray the cleaner? How long does it take you to go to the store? If you decide to just go to the store once and stock up, where will you put all that stuff? All these factors affect the cost of the product.

As a customer, you need to evaluate the total value of the service provided, not just the cost. As a business owner, you need to ask yourself: are you selling your product or service based on price or value?

If the supply house doesn’t make it known that they can provide more than just the paper towels, then they will have a customer base of penny pinchers who will complain the moment costs increase. If they sell the whole package, the product and an expert to accompany it, they’ll have a customer for life.

“If you sell on price, you are a commodity. If you sell on value, you are a resource.” – Bob Burg

At Imagine, we strive to be a resource. We are a full-service marketing firm, but that goes beyond writing press releases and creating websites. We become experts in a client’s industry in addition to our own. We are active in our local communities. We seek out education and learning opportunities. We do all these things so when we are in front of a new client, we have the chance to show our value – not our prices.

Special thanks to Terry Bean for sharing Bob’s wisdom on Twitter.

Nadia Zerka is a client relations manager at Imagine Communications. She can be reached at nzerka@weareimagine.com.

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