Good, Fast, Cheap

There is an old joke that you can get something done, good, fast and cheap as long as you only pick two options. The third is always impossible given the other two. Good and fast is never cheap. Cheap and good is seldom fast. Fast and cheap is rarely good. it applies to most things in life.

I chuckled today as I read the ad for a local video production company. The bottom of their ad reads: “Fast- Easy- Inexpensive” which is dangerously close to: “Fast- Good- Cheap”.

So either this company has somehow overcome one of the constants of the universe, or they are setting up conflicts with clients when the results- in this case, the “good” side of the equation- don’t meet client expectations. Perhaps it is really just a teaser ad, “The first taste is free” come-on, where the buyer ends up paying dearly in the end. But it raises a bigger question- what kind of client is this ad going to attract?

If I have learned anything in my career its that the last client you want is the one that is price sensitive. The price sensitive client only came to you from someone else because they percieve a lower cost or greater value, and will just as quickly abandon you for the next guy willing to deliver the same product for less. Margins will be wafer thin, and the client will be constantly beating you up over price, hacking away at that tiny margin. You will be busy and barely keeping yourself fed. Sounds like fun.

When you put the word “Cheap” in your marketing materials you immediately cede the advantage to the client; you can never submit a bid with any kind of decent margin because you have already labeled yourself as the low-cost provider. You had better have serious capacity in place because you are going to need to run insane margins to pay the bills.

You can be Good, Fast and Cheap, but only two things at once. Nobody can be all three.


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