When Should You Spend the Extra Dime?

Tips to help you decide when it’s worth investing in quality.

Wendy Ruyle 8.27.2013

We all know those people who have to have the best of everything, even when it blows their budget. We also know those who go the cheap route every time. Neither extreme works all of the time. When it comes to design, when should you invest in quality?

1. You’re asking people to spend a lot of money

Whether you are hosting a glamorous fundraising gala or selling luxury handbags you are asking for a big chunk of change from your audience. If you use cheap materials for the invitation, the gala will appear less than elegant. Better to scale back the event to something less formal than to disappoint a funder who is expecting to be celebrated (and willing to pay for that honor).

Those high-end handbags won't seem worth the price either if you slap an office store laser-printed tag on them. The small touches are part of the buying experience at that price point. Every detail should be considered to make the customer feel pampered.

2. The return will outweigh the investment

It is important to look at ROI. A capital campaign could raise millions of dollars. Doesn’t it make sense to invest in the marketing materials to evoke the emotions that result in those kinds of donations? On the other hand, a small theater production might make less than $1,000. In that instance, spending $500 to market it is just silly. Take a look at the bottom line and spend your money accordingly.

3. It’s part of your mission

You should align your organization’s spending with its mission. If you are selling something like green energy, you’ve got to walk the walk and spend the extra dime for recycled paper and FSC certified printing. It’s what you are expecting your customers to do so you have to do it too.

Nonprofit working for fair wages? You can’t send your printing overseas to save a buck. You’ve got to invest in your local community or your constituents won’t trust you. Even if your specific mission isn’t about these issues, investing in the future is always a good idea.

4. What you are creating needs to last

Don’t be the organization that hands out the cheapest giveaway at a tradeshow or conference. If it has your name on it and it is going to live with your customers for an extended period, make sure it is of the best quality. You don’t want people looking at your logo every time they use a water bottle that leaks, a pen that runs out of ink, or a t-shirt that shrinks. Choose a high quality item in a lower price point range if your budget is small.

There are times to save and times to spend. Choosing one or the other depends on what you are getting back. In donations or sales, in brand loyalty, and in good karma.

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