My first marketing lecturer, Dr Mario Miranda, taught me the relationship between price and quality. His example was a Waterman pen versus a Bic disposable. While my tastes are more Mont Blanc, the premise stands. Why do we choose Apple, Nordstrom and Mercedes Benz?
Why don’t we apply the same premise to ourselves? What’s your ROI? Does your price equal your quality?
I was chatting with a colleague last night about clients wanting expert work done at junior rates. We’ve all encountered it, “I’d love to hire you but [insert name] is $500 cheaper.” On eLance, I’m asked to pitch for work at hourly rates lower than the minimum wage in that country. The RFPs are filled with “expert” and “top performing”.
As marketers, we have a choice to make. We can take the work and discount our rates, or we can walk away. We can decide if we see ourselves as a Kia or a Mercedes Benz. In other words, what’s your ROI?
I know you’re thinking, “There’s more to the job than money, Bianca”, and I agree. Sometimes it’s a job title, resume points, or brand names that make up the difference. I’m doing some work currently that gives me studio photography experience. But that’s part of the ROI calculation. I gain experience and a small amount of cash; they get product photography.
It’s when the returns don’t equal or exceed investment (in this case you) it harms the entire industry. Precedents get set, your price goes down and you turn from Apple to Samsung. It’s hard to recover from this, and near impossible if it’s across the industry.
Yes, this was written as a vent over a recent situation, but also because walking away from a particular project was one of the hardest things I’ve done. The ROI figure just wasn’t a good result and saying yes now will mean it gets pushed further and further with each contract renewal. I hope I’m never in this situation again.