Jean Paul
Jul 10, 2012

You are too expensive

Started his worklife when in college, selling portable fire extinguishers to people who did not want to buy them. Stumbled upon advertising, when dabbling between what to do – travel & tourism, hotel management or being a sales man. Currently heads a regional agency team in Leo Burnett Singapore

You are too expensive


As a kid in India, I used to accompany my mother on her weekly trips to the fish market. She used to go around the fish market, me in tow, looking for fish she wants to buy on that day.

And then she would ask the fisherwoman how much was she selling that fish for. Whatever the fisherwoman said, my mother’s immediate response was “That’s too expensive!”
It was a pattern…and that memory doesn’t leave me. It’s stuck in my brain.

Years later I am an advertising executive and I have a client. Everytime he speaks, I can see my mother in him.

“You are too expensive, Agency!”

Now here is the great thing about my mother and this client – They were & are not afraid of haggling/ negotiating. Both believe that they can get discounts if they ask. My mother saved money for the family, the client might save marketing spends for his company. All good!

Now let’s get back to the agency. If all clients say ““You are too expensive, Agency!”, then it’s the beginning of the end, for the agency, isn’t it?

So I decided that I should talk to the person who I thought could help me solve this problem efficiently. Not my boss, Not my CEO, Not my CFO. I went to have a chat with my Mom.

My mom who is a simple lady, asked me a simple question, “At the fish market, did you ever see me haggling frequently with the salmon fisherwoman?”
Come to think of it, she hadn’t .

“Jean, the reason why I rarely haggled at the salmon counter, is that I know the value of salmon. And I know I will not get it any cheaper. Infact if I haggle at that counter, the fisherwoman might insult me. She knows that I know that salmon is valuable.

Now when you go back to your advertising agency tomorrow, ask yourself whether, are you & your agency delivering great value to your client. If the answer is yes, then ask yourself another question – Have you made the client realise the value of your agency’s output?

My mom. She had just solved my complex client problem with her simplicity. She had just told me what could stop her from saying “That’s too expensive”.

I promised my mom that my client will get great value and more importantly will know that the agency is delivering great value. And then my client will stop saying “You are too expensive, Agency!”

So, that problem was solved in a couple of months.

And then every time we met this client he wanted to say “You are too cheap, Agency!”…but he just smiled and kept mum.

This article first appeared on Campaign Asia
Campaign India