The Hammer

You head to the hardware store to buy a hammer. Low and behold there are two choices, the Name Brand and the “house” brand. You pick up the Name Brand. It’s nice and heavy. The handle is varnished hardwood and the head of the hammer is finely cast. There’s a metal wedge at the top. It swings with balance but its price is 15% to 20 % more than the house brand. 

This House Brand looks just as good. It’s a bit lighter and its head is simply jammed directly onto the handle. There is no metal wedge at the top to expand the handle into to head. The handle looks like fruitwood. There’s no varnish. But hey, you are not going to build a house with it, just hang a bunch of pictures. You just need a hammer.

Flash forward and few days. It’s raining outside and a good day to finish hanging the family portraits. You used the House Brand hammer a couple of times to hang a few picture in the bedroom. Now to the living room. As you line up the photo of Grandpa and swing back the hammer the head flies off behind you and smashes the vase with grandpa’s ashes all over the floor just as the children come in from the rain dripping onto the floor and all over Grandpa.

Oh, that’s why the Name Brand had that wedge at the top and the hardwood handle that would not go soft in the high humidity.

It a familiar lesson, this manipulated metaphor.  But why was the cheaper hammer chosen at all? It’s a simple answer. The human experience is laced with hope. It’s not that we forget the lessons of the past, it’s that we hope we can overcome them. We mistakenly hope that we are smart enough to win two ways. We will not use the Cheap hammer to build a house so we can win by saving money and not have an expensive tool lying around.

We often let hope and self-confidence override what we know is a risky and poor decision. From our perspective in Law Firm Practice Building we are confronted with cheap knockoffs all around. Discounts on media result in buys that are slapped together, not policed, with “fake news” style graphs and charts. But look closely and you will find over bought duplication, failure to adjust to physcographic and emphasis on the wrong demo. But hey, that digital chart looks good. Then there is the policing and make-good issue which cannot be thoroughly done, if at all, when buyers are overworked and underpaid. Break it down into the cases achieved and it’s a hugely expensive mistake.

How about cheap creatives? First and foremost it makes your service look cheap, cheesy and not professional. Many time you are just pasted into someone else’s ad with no regard to how it will perform for you.

Worse yet it will not reflect the individuality of the service you provide. The public will get a false picture of you and will consider the advertisement and you deceptive.

Yes, the cheaper hammer worked a few times but then it’s back to the store to buy another. It would have been better not to rely strictly on what it costs, but consider what the better hammer could have achieved.  Doing that would make Grandpa proud.


Richard Sackett / CEO / Group Matrix

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