63: Your Two Thirds of the Pie
We can’t overnight packages to Moscow on a 44-cent stamp. Frank Lloyd Wright could never design and construct a home in the time it takes a double wide to be manufactured, transported, and stitched together. Deep down we all know that—for the most part—”you get what you pay for.”
For just about every commercial transaction we make, you and I use the trilateral equilibrium (shown below). The tri-what?
Let me break it down for you. In every transaction, we make a choice about the following three criteria of that transaction: quality, price, and speed. Of the three, we can have a maximum of two in our favor. We can have something that’s:
fast and premium (but not cheap),
fast and cheap (but not premium), or
cheap and premium (but not fast).
Using graphic design as an example, Colin Harman illustrates the principle with this Venn diagram.
Using flying as an example, you can fly via:
private jet or Concorde—quick and custom but expensive,
commercial coach—quick and affordable but crowded and not luxurious, or
standby ticket/military transport—inexpensive and professional but time-intensive.
So, what does this have to do with marketing?
As entrepreneurs, we can only promise, at most, two of these spheres to our clients—with integrity anyway. The laws of the universe say we can’t give them superlative service in the shortest possible time frame at the lowest possible cost. You can try to break these laws, but you will only break yourself upon the laws. So, we have a brand decision to make: which (one or) two will we wrap around our brand?
Each of the three combinations holds value, especially for niche businesses. In the auction industry, I’ve seen all three branded and leveraged for success. We all know of speed + quality auction companies that have large annual sales volumes on relatively few, custom, high-dollar auctions a year. Several speed + cost firms have grown to international prominence with regular, large auctions with late consignment deadlines for lots of consignors who couldn’t independently afford to advertise their assets. Meanwhile, cost + quality auctioneers annual or semi-annual events that have television audiences (with low/no marketing fees) and where sellers are willing to wait for a large bidding crowd.
Do you know in which (one or) two spheres your brand resides?
If so, does your marketing emphasize your side of the triangle?
Do your fonts and colors and logo match cultural norms for companies on your portion of the equilibrium?
Do your business cards and web site and other marketing collateral give the kind of impression typically associated with successful businesses that share the same strengths?
You and your firm don’t have to be the fastest and least expensive and most exclusive. You just have to know where your strengths are and how to weave those strengths into your brand image.
My wife carries a lot of relational wisdom. She has had to tell me more than once, “You can’t be everybody’s friend.” I don’t know if it’s insecurity (pride’s off-stage personae); but I work too hard to impress people, to be as many things to as many people as possible.
The theme at church this week has been on recognizing what Christ’s love and acceptance look like and challenging ourselves with what life would look like, if we fully embraced that. Could we have remorse without guilt? Faith without tangible blessing? Acceptance without approval? Encouragement without popularity? Reward without competition? Love without merit?
The answer to all of these is, “Yes!” The Pharisee in me still struggles to fully adapt to this truth on a spiritual level. On the relational level, I’m thankful to have friends in my life who encourage authenticity and individualism—like my wife and guys like Harney, who once told me, “Ryan, one day you’re going to realize we all like you for who you are.”
I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m moving. If you’re on the same journey that I’m walking, how’s it going for you? In what environments or relationships do you feel whole and alive? What could you do to increase the frequency and or depth of those interactions?
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