You Get What You Pay For

I think that people believe, for better or worse, they get what they pay for. They’ll excuse something cheap that breaks (“It only cost a few bucks”) even though it was clearly meant to last far longer. And they’ll cheer at mediocrity because if they paid a lot for it, well, darn it, we’re going to extol it.

That explains the exasperating standing ovations for arrant mediocrity, from regional theater to Broadway. I can understand a school production where everyone jumps to their feet for their kid, but I doubt that’s a house full of parents watching Zombies Dance At Midnight at the Helen Hayes Theater on West 44th.

This is why no speakers should ever speak for free, no matter who is in the audience (including their parents). “Exposure” isn’t worth it, because anyone who knows you’re there for free will not think you’re very valuable and may even believe you’re somewhat desperate. On the other hand, I’ve seen very high fees create enrapt audiences even for lousy speakers (many famous business authors are in this category). If I’m paying this much, they must be good (they’d better be good, or I’m the fool, so I’m getting on my feet).

There are exceptions, of course. I would think the production of Spiderman might come to mind, or the importance of a good, cheap cup of coffee.

Nevertheless, I watched Chris Brown lip synch worse than my Beagle could on Dancing With the Stars the other night. The crowd roared. I thought he was pathetic. But I guess they had paid a lot, or assumed he had been paid a lot. I watched it for free, and I wondered why anyone would spend five minutes watching him if they had to pay for it. But maybe if they pay enough, they figure he’s pretty good.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “You Get What You Pay For

  1. The price of books has decreased. Amazon has kindle books for $0.99. Some are far better than others…and for $0.99! (Even Seth Godin’s latest book Pook The Box was only $0.99) A new author is told to go cheap to begin to create a name for oneself.

    The same for speaking…”consider it advertising or sales call”. The concern I have is the expectation of so many people want everything for free (because its free on the net).

    I agree a persons time and knowledge is valuable. How does one compete with the “I can get it for free on the web” growing mentality?

  2. Bill,

    Alan’s is one of the few blogs that I read on a regular basis. I also have read most of his books. There is so much information packed in his books. His blog reminds me from time to time of areas that I need to go back and review. Plus his blog is in real-time, whereas most books have a six to twelve month lag time.

  3. Pat, don’t become a commodity. You can’t get my high end stuff for free on the web. Seth Godin simply does that as a “loss leader.” My books don’t sell for 99 cents on Amazon, and even though you can get used copies for little money on Ebay, people still buy the new ones at regular price.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three × three =


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.