No, that’s not the headline of my Tinder profile.
Fast, good, and cheap is my wish list of every deliverable I’ve ever asked for, and will continue to ask for. Get it to me fast. Get it to me good. And don’t make me pay a lot for it.
Who are we kidding—it has never happened like that. In reality, the most you can expect is two out of three. Unfortunately, I can tell you with utter honesty—and without much remorse—that it’s typically the cheap that gets sacrificed.
Yesterday Is Not Fast Enough
There’s a lot to consider when your agency is facing a lightning-quick turnaround. Which team members can we pull? Which projects are we currently working on that can be subordinated? Do we have to retain an outside vendor? We’ve all heard the phrase, “time is money,” and it is never more true than when we are staring down the barrel of we-need-something-good-and-fast.
The cold, hard takeaway is this: Something good and fast will likely carry a big price tag.
I’m not afraid to say it: most of the time, cheap gets sacrificed.
Fire drills are part of agency life—it just comes with the territory. To avoid chaos, we establish go-to processes. We figure out the best combination of team members and contacts that allow us to complete high quality deliverables—quickly.
An asset might only have two rounds of edits before it’s right, or it might take 10. That means a creative director, a writer, possibly a web developer, and account director going back and forth until we get it right. Getting to perfection doesn’t happen by accident, it takes time. And time, as we know, is money.
But Is It Good Enough?
There are few agencies that will admit there are times where quality can be compromised, but I sincerely attribute that to inexperience. Of course, there are times where you can compromise quality if what you need is something quick and something cheap.
If you want something good and fast, it’s going to carry a price tag.
The key is assessment. In what instances can something go out in the world at a B+ and not an A+?
It’s a short list, but it’s critical to consider the use case. One of our clients had the last minute opportunity to co-panel a conference; she needed a product sheet with the company and conference logo—we would never need it again. In order to get it printed in time, we had to send it to a chain office supply store instead of a professional resource. Not the finest quality, but the client had something good enough for that single event.
You Get What You Pay For
In the long run, cheap work costs you time—and ultimately more money. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to want to spend as little as possible on something. Is there a risk in a big investment with a small return? Sure. But how many people do you know that have become successful by making small investments and getting big returns? Me either.
In the long run, cheap work costs you time—and ultimately more money.
I’ve been lured into the promises of content chop shops that pump out 10 blogs in 10 days for $200. Oh the hours I spent editing and rewriting them! Not to mention the outlines I prepared for the writer, who had no real knowledge of the client, and no context into the overall content strategy. It was a painful lesson, but we learned from it. One of the first real investments we made in White Space was an editorial team and to this day, our content production is one of the crown jewels of this agency.
When deliberating between fast, good, and cheap, it’s imperative to consider the asset on an individual basis. Ad in a print magazine? Never go the cheap route. Conference asset that won’t be used again? While not ideal, cheap might be acceptable if the alternative is unpreparedness. And if someone out there can control time….swipe right, I’m interested.