Too Good to Be True

One of the oddities of marketing is that, sometimes, what looks like the best possible offer doesn’t actually do well in the market. Potential customers are well aware of the old saying: If something looks to good to be true, it probably is.

How does this interact with marketing? Put simply, professional-level work demands a professional-level price. Excellent people simply expect to be paid market value for their services. Greed is not even the primary motivating factor here; rather, people who have worked long and hard to hone their professional skills expect to be compensated fairly for using those skills.

The converse is also true: People who come cheap don’t do high-quality work. Even if a highly trained professional decides to offer his services for below market value, he has to find some way to recoup the opportunity cost of working below his pay grade. Perhaps he rushes through each job, leading to below-average results, instead of taking his time and charging a fee commensurate with the effort he’s putting in. Or perhaps he uses less expensive materials or easier but sloppier methods as he goes about his work.

More often, people who charge very little for their services do so because they are not highly trained experts in the first place. They advertise excellent services that are anything but excellent and low prices that are low for a reason. Sometimes, these people are actually malicious, but more often they have inflated views of their own ability levels or can see no other way to make ends meet. Still, going for these cheap services can be disastrous for the customer.

Cheap prices can also be a sign of a marketing ploy. Perhaps the base cost is indeed below market value, but hidden fees push it up to that level or beyond. Conversely, some marketers claim to offer certain services “free” that are actually built into the price, again making a deal sound much better than it is.

With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that customers are wary of marketing that advertises great services at very low prices. People assume that the marketer is being dishonest, either by failing to mention hidden fees or misrepresenting the quality of the product or service.

Instead of making themselves out to be great bargains, well-marketed businesses at the low end of the cost scale use open and honest pricing, emphasizing the value of their services without misrepresentation. This attitude is the best way to allay customers’ fears about cheap products.

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