Smart People Consider Both – and Consider Value First

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” —Oscar Wilde

“There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey.” —John Ruskin

Sometimes, it pays to pick up a “good deal,” even one that seems too good to be true. Sometimes. Other times it doesn’t. Think of lousy-tasting generic supermarket foods, cheap tools that break the moment you touch them, or your grandfather’s Ford Pinto. Or, for that matter, a really lousy website.

If you’ve ever spent a moment upset that something you bought didn’t perform as you expected, congratulations: You probably fell into the oldest trap around, along with the rest of us. You bought on the basis of price without giving much thought to value.

It’s an easy thing to do. We’ve all done it. And when it’s just a minor item, it’s no big deal. But when it’s a buying decision that can affect the success of your business, the stakes go up quickly.

Think, for instance, of the single worst website you’ve ever seen. Somebody built it. Somebody decided to have it built. Somebody paid for it. Chances are that all three somebodies had to live with the regret afterwards, especially the one that wrote the check.

It’s pretty likely that the person who gave the go-ahead to that web disaster was swayed by the prospect of saving a few dollars, saving a little effort, saving some extra steps. As the saying goes, you don’t always get what you pay for—but you’re more likely to get something good if you pay for something good. That means understanding and prioritizing value before you consider price.

What’s value? Simply put, it is the quality that enables a product or service to do precisely what it is intended to do, do it well, and most importantly meet the expectations of the person buying or using it. Some of value’s ingredients are pretty obvious: Whether we’re talking about making a wrench or a website, the planning, design, materials, craftsmanship, and quality control need to be of a high standard in order to achieve a good result.

Some elements of the value proposition are less obvious—namely, whether the product is in line with goals and objectives. A fantastic wrench does you no good if you really need a screwdriver. A brand new Corvette won’t meet your needs if you’re going off-roading. And a website or ad campaign that isn’t aligned with business objectives will similarly get you nowhere fast. That’s why identifying and choosing the right goals and objectives need to be the first consideration in making a buying decision. Having these firmly in mind lets you objectively consider the real-world value of the purchase you’re about to make or the project you’re about to undertake.

A good ad agency or web design firm will not only encourage you to consider and clarify your objectives—they’ll insist on it, and work with you to make it happen. They’ll take the time to research your company, your needs, and your objectives, and create a development strategy that’s tailor-made to meet them. Sure, it takes time. Sure, it costs some money. But in the long run, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than an expensive, ugly online mistake.

We’ve all seen sites that fail to please visitors, fail to convince, fail to sell, and that actively damage brands. A really good agency will never settle for that. They know that the site’s final form is tied to performing its proper function: Entertaining, informing, convincing, and selling. In other words, delivering value of precisely the kind that the client wants and intends. They’ll take the time needed and do whatever it takes to create that value, even if it costs a little more up front—because in the long run, failing to deliver value costs a lot more.