The False Economy Marketing Problem
I went cycling on Christmas Day. It was wet and cold, but very few cars were on the roads. The only open store was the petrol garage.
I approached the garage pedalling fast. As I passed the entrance a car moved away from the pumps and towards the garage exit. At the exit the car slowed, but didn’t completely stop.
With barely a glance my way the driver pulled out in to my path. I squeezed the brakes. I didn’t slow down much, but my wheels screamed.
I’ve been meaning to buy a new pushbike for about four years.
In my mind I have reasonable objections to replacing my current bike. We’re planning to move abroad later this year, and the last thing I need is more stuff.
After narrowly missing that car on Christmas Day I fired up Gumtree. Gumtree is a UK website where people place classified ads for things they are trying to sell. Within a few minutes I had found an appropriate looking bike. I contacted the seller and went round the following evening.
The seller pulled the bicycle out of a dark garage. It clearly hadn’t been used in a long time. The pedals wouldn’t turn, and there was obviously a problem with the chain.
“It’ll be okay,” he says, “with a bit of maintenance.”
I realised I didn’t know what I was looking for. I realised I didn’t have the knowledge to gauge the health of the bike just by looking at it.
In short I couldn’t be sure whether I was getting a good deal.
It seemed like a good deal when I found it on Gumtree. If I was a competent mechanic it might still have been a good deal, especially with some negotiating. But for me the bike was a false economy.
Everyone who has ever hired marketing help of Elance is familiar with the False Economy problem.
Hiring a developer in the Philippines for $12 an hour might feel like a bargain, but it never works out as a bargain.
Hiring a copywriter you found on Fiverr might feel like a bargain, until you take delivery of the final work.
Phoning Google for help with your AdWords account might feel like a bargain. Perhaps this is the biggest false economy of all.
The only way to spot false economies seems to be to have your fingers burnt.
Based on my own finger-burning experiences I’m putting together an email series called ‘False Economies: The Top Five Ways To Blow Your Marketing Budget’.
Email one starts tomorrow.