You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Like most kids, I wanted it all. But, my mother quickly raised me to understand that I couldn’t have it all. That, sometimes (most of the time), I had to make a choice.
Growing up, she used to always say to me…
You can’t have your cake and it (too).
It was her way of raising a spoiled little brat not to be a spoiled little brat.
(Because, if there is anything true about spoiled little brats, it’s that they grow up to be spoiled adults).
Having worked as a hired gun for a number of startups for nearly three years now, I think I am going to start saying the same line to entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers wanting it all…
Richard, you can’t have your cake and it too.
A few weeks back, I had a high-energy (borderline) obnoxious entrepreneur reach out to me.
He kicked things off by bragging to me about how well he and his company were doing. And, once he felt I fully realized what an honor it was to talk to him, he said he wanted the following…
- I want someone that can take on a big project.
- I want some that is the “best of the best” at writing copy.
- I want someone that can turn this thing around fast (in fact, can you jump on a call this afternoon?).
I said absolutely.
But, to be respectful of both our time, I told him that my projects start out at $X,XXX.
Suddenly, he wasn’t so gung-ho anymore. He started back-pedaling and bombarding me with bullshit excuses.
I just smiled, wished him the best of luck and told him to have a nice day.
There’s no such thing as cheap, fast and the “best of the best”.
Brands working with agencies and freelancers need to understand they can’t have their cake and eat it (too). And, they need to realize agencies and freelancers promising them everything under the sun are lying to them.
This means they have to choose…
- Brands can have cheap prices with a fast turnaround, but it certainly won’t be the “best of the best”.
- Brands can have fast turnaround and the “best of the best”, but it certainly won’t be cheap.
- Brands can have cheap and the “best of the best” (scratch that — pretty good), but it certainly won’t be fast.
But, what brands can’t have is cheap, fast and the “best of the best”.
To use a metaphor of sorts, while Picasso might be willing to paint and paint fast, he sure as fuck isn’t going to do it for pennies on the dollar.
When brands understand this and the agencies they work with understand this, it creates a more honest authentic relationship.
That said, here’s how I approach pricing at my creative writing shop, Honey Copy…
You’re going to pay a lot, but you’re going to get more than you pay for.
At first, I was like a kid in a candy shop, doing business with every single lead that entered into my inbox (even if I was getting way underpaid).
All business is good business, right?
Well, as the number of leads increased, my skills as a writer sharpened and the Honey Copy brand grew… I realized I had to start saying no to folks like Richard up above who wanted cheap, fast and the “best of the best”.
While I get half as many leads as I used to, they’re much more qualified leads…
Not to mention, I’m a busy writer that doesn’t make money talking on the phone, so I don’t have the time nor the patience to play a game of grab ass and beat around the bush about pricing.
But, more than this, I think brands and agencies need to be thinking about their strengths and weaknesses and how they can use their weaknesses to better market their strengths.
This is why I choose to be…
Being the cheapest is a race to the bottom. For one, it attracts shitty ungrateful customers like Richard up above. And, for two, it’s easy for competitors to replicate.
Someone can always make or do something cheaper than you… cheap is a race to the bottom, as Seth Godin would say.
Additionally, when you tell a customer that you’re the cheapest and the fastest and the best… their spidey senses begin to tingle (whether they realize it or not) because they now the laws of nature don’t allow something to be the best of everything.
But, when you tell a customer…
“I’m expensive because I’m the fastest and best at what I do”
… suddenly you become refreshingly expensive as your weakness markets your strengths.
And, if your customer scoffs, grab him by the ears (like his mother should have done) and say…
You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
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