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Why do people think complicated is better than simple?
Posted 29 October 2005 - 06:02 PM
I worked at my last "real job" on a very simple-interface web-based CMS system. I haven't seen anything yet to rival it. And yet, we had trouble selling it (in 2000) because some people thought it was too easy. "Couldn't we just have someone build this for us?" I'd hear them say.
Sure you could, but will you?
Then I worked with a client who paid literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for a CMS that required half our staff to go to training to be able to install and support, and constant retraining of their staff as they had turnover. But... it was worth the money because it was so complicated? For a tiny fraction of the money spent on that system, we could have integrated the few extra security features they needed into our own in-house system.
I've had people tell me they didn't think they "got their money's worth" from a report I created because the conclusions and recommendations seemed "too simple". All I can say to them is if they were so simple, why didn't you implement them before you bought a site review, in which you told me you just didn't know what else you could do?
It's funny, but people are happier when I throw in some complicated gobbledy gook that they can't understand. Lots of charts, comparisons, and long words. Then boil the recommendations down to simpler terms. Then they feel like they've gotten their "money's worth". It's all real data (and adds a lot of tediousness to the project) but nothing they need to improve their site. There's definitely a "that-makes-perfect-sense-so-why-pay-you-to-tell-me-that" mentality.
“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” -Albert Einstein
"Make everything as simple as possible, then complicate it a little to make people happy." - Me
Posted 29 October 2005 - 06:43 PM
Absolutely. If you don't do that, they'll stop recognizing you as a guru
Posted 29 October 2005 - 08:48 PM
I refuse to do that. Don't think I could if I tried!
Posted 29 October 2005 - 09:32 PM
In my experience, there's a much easier and ultimately more rewarding answer.
"Make everything as simple as possible, then make it VERY expensive."
I'm absolutely serious, too. We're talking about the perception of quality, after all, and making something seem complicated or esoteric is not the only way to manipulate that perception. If you're good and know that you're good, make them pay through the nose so they'll believe you're good, too.
Posted 29 October 2005 - 10:21 PM
I'm going to quit doing reports entirely because that's why I hate finishing them- it's the monkey work that makes me nuts. But after delivering a slimmed down, this-is-what-you-need-to-know and here's-a-game-plan report, they want to know where the rest of it is.
Seriously, I delivered one of the most comprehensive reports I've ever written someone with a clear gameplan and strategy, and I got back a nasty email that said, "I expected more than 11 pages..."
Part of it is small businesses wanting to "get their money's worth" and the other part of it is big businesses wanting a hefty report to turn in to upper management. When most of the time, a 2-5 page document can sum up clearly and succinctly what their deficiencies are and outline a recommended strategy.
It's kind of like math homework- you don't get credit unless you show your work. Did I check this? Yes I did. It's fine, here are the results. Did I check that? Yes I did. Doing good, here are the results. Blah blah blah.
Doing the work takes 1-3 hours. Showing I did the work takes about 5-8 to make it all pretty. No more! I'm actually going to rewrite my offerings right now... life is too short.
Posted 29 October 2005 - 11:28 PM
Honestly, Scottie, instead of refusing to do them, increase the price dramatically. At least twice what you charge now, preferably three times as much. If I'm wrong, it has the same effect as refusing to do reports. If I'm right, however, you'll find yourself with clients looking for real solutions instead of "getting their money's worth."
Posted 30 October 2005 - 01:34 AM
As musicians we publish our rates for all to see.
We are at the higher end of the market for our charges.
It makes for a great filter.
Casual "you are too expensive" enquiries diminish.
Dead end administrative load plummets.
Proactive creative work increases greatly.
There is time in a day.
Higher price perceptions eliminate those that shop on price alone.
The bottom feeders.
They make for lousy clients.
You can never do enough for them.
And they are always looking for a way of ratcheting you down further.
Quality is not part of their vision.
Saving money is their mantra.
More for less.
Whereas the quality seekers buy less on price.
Their reward is in enhanced outcomes - not saving money.
They understand about investing in themselves for better outcomes.
They seek help to do add value from outside sources.
They will listen to you rather than watch the cash register.
80% of your clients give you 20% of your profits
20% of your clients give you 80% of your profits
It makes sense to filter the time wasters and focus on the higher yielding clients.
Makes for a hell [heaven?] of a lot more satisfaction and fulfilment.
Posted 30 October 2005 - 04:41 AM
Posted 30 October 2005 - 07:44 AM
Yes, I know that's the way to go Ron... and I certainly know bargain-seekers are never happy; I've written about them twice.
I just can't reconcile the higher prices with myself. I have a hard enough time doing collections already. I need to hire an office manager to do paperwork (including the paperwork of hiring someone!). As long as I'm not the one putting the bill through, I might be able to do it.
When I worked with a hospital IT system, a consulting company was brought in at great expense. They interviewed all of the IT managers and put together a report to tell upper management the same things the IT managers had been telling them all along. But, because they paid a lot for the advice, they did it!
Humans are funny creatures.
Posted 30 October 2005 - 10:07 AM
The ideal place to be (which I'm at for the most part) is to be that consultant. I'm amazed at what some clients will pay just to verify that they are indeed doing things right.
At first it was difficult to do those reports because you don't feel like you're giving them any value to their money. But then I realized that there is indeed value in the peace of mind in knowing that you are definitely on the right track. I almost always can find a few little nuggets to tell them that they may not have thought of, and those at least make me feel better about my fees.
Either way, it still takes me and my team the same amount of time to go through and check everything, whether we find that they're on the right track or completely missing the boat.
Personally, I get more satisfaction from the consultations where I can give them some info that will really change the amount of targeted traffic to their site. But I don't get enough of those these days...people are already very well educated when they've been reading my newsletter for years.
I did have a very good call the other day though, which was great because the week before I had some difficult calls where I felt my info wasn't exactly what they wanted to hear. Unfortunately, it's hard to weed those ones out before you accept the job. I think that's a big part of it though. It's worth spending 15 mins. on a site first, to make sure you see enough stuff you can tell them that will really and truly enhance their business.
Of course, even when you do find that stuff, sometimes they just want to know why they're "penalized" or how they can go from # 8 to # 1, and I don't always find that out until after they've paid!
Posted 30 October 2005 - 12:40 PM
Posted 30 October 2005 - 06:45 PM
The Paper War: win it or you lose! I learnt that lesson early on. Now I do a 10 page report, and send 250 pages of "background". "If you don't understand an issue, consult the background to to find out more".
Win-win, as it provides useful background in massive detail, and makes the report "the bite-sized specifics".
Posted 30 October 2005 - 07:28 PM
Posted 30 October 2005 - 07:52 PM
No one ever reads it. I have a (few) intentional mistake in it, like a sentence that is simialr to this: "Google SERPS show a wooah is that a monkey with Organic results on the left and ads..." and not one person has yet mentioned it. I even put "there are mistakes in this report. If you can find them we will give you..."
Having all knowledge centralised is useful if one ever want to train a mini-me. It's a good starting point anyway...
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