Have you ever noticed that there are hardly any businesses that are really known as being fast, good and cheap? Think about the businesses you admire. You might think of some that are good and cheap, but they probably take a long time to respond to you or take a long time to deliver on the work. There are certainly businesses that are good and fast (DHL or that highly responsive accountant you use), but they will no doubt be more expensive than their counterparts. And of course, there are also that are cheap and fast (McD’s), but the quality is not usually their strength. But, and here’s the thing… there’s NO problem with this.
The reason it’s very difficult to think of successful businesses that excel at being good, fast and cheap is because it is practically impossible to do all three attributes well.
Despite us accepting these tradeoffs as consumers, many small business owners are driving themselves crazy trying to deliver on all three attributes! But it’s a fruitless pursuit that will keep you in a never-ending tailspin! You will never be great at all three!
The best businesses are either extremely good at just one of these attributes, or, they inhabit the intersections of two attributes. That spot in the middle doesn’t exist!
So, when you think of your business… what do you do best? Where would you like to be positioned? What would make you feel proud? Revisit your vision statement and get really clear.
More importantly, what would your customers say you currently do best? In one of the best marketing books ever written, Ries and Trout say; “The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what’s already up there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist.” (Positioning: The Battle for your Mind).
Think about what your customers already think and stick with that! Don’t try to be something you’re not (just because you think you should). Instead, truly own your position and let your communications explain it clearly to your customers. Be direct, be frank and your customers will thank you for it! Think along the lines of;
- If you want it fast, we can help you but that’s the price we need to charge.
- We may be a bit more expensive, but you won’t find better quality anywhere else.
- Anything good is worth waiting for!
- Lowest prices – nothing more, and nothing less!
These aren’t necessarily the best taglines, but the idea is to be transparent with your customers (and honest with yourself). Know what you’re good at (and make sure you’re really good at that), and then don’t apologise the rest.
So what’s it to be? Fast, good, or cheap – pick any two!