Thursday, August 27, 2009

Discount Everything

My philosophical instincts tell me to take everything I hear with a grain of salt. Everyone steps up the voltage of what they want to communicate, and if you want to get an unbiased view from what you're told, you should always run things through a step-down transformer. Of course, if you ever run across an honest person and do that, you've watered down the truth.

In terms of economics during hard times, though, discount everything is a strategy for survival. Discount as an adjective here plays into the age-old marketer's plan of enticing people into action by promising to take less money out of their pockets for something they value. I've been doing it for people who realize the return on investment they can get by hiring me to get higher search engine rankings for their websites. They've been doing it as a way to get people to see that they can save money and take that Hawaii vacation or get food delivered to their crew in Los Angeles.

We've put an ingenious twist on this idea into Volunteer on Vacation in Hawaii, by offering volunteers a 5% discount on stays at this Maui bed and breakfast, and an additional 5% donation to the organization for which you volunteer. Save money, earn money for a worthy cause, and do something ethical during your Hawaii vacation! Sweet.

How about an ethical honeymoon? While staying at the Hale Hookipa, and volunteering for one of the many organizations that need you, you could take a little time out and get married! Destination weddings have become even more popular as people cut back on the big, expensive ceremonies that were so popular during boom times. One fad I've heard is that people run off and get married, then travel to various cities visiting relatives: this lowers the carbon foot-print of the wedding by not having so many people fly in from all over, and can increase the value of wedding presents, since the people giving the presents didn't have to shell out so much to actually go to the ceremony (Maui wedding packages start at $300 with this Maui weddings planner).

Even caterers have been getting into the discount everything mindset. Our favorite Hudson Valley caterer down in Woodstock has been doing smaller and smaller gigs (weddings included) as the recession has spread like a blight across the land. Culinary Delight Catering in Los Angeles has even created a discount wedding catering package to fill the demand for a less expensive wedding reception.

Providing less for less is the driving force during a recession for any business that wants to stay in business. But how does that affect someone like me, who's job it is to get people to the top of a search for their keywords? It's not like I can just do less. It takes x amount of work to get a site to the top, and any less will get that site something less. Considering the rate at which clicks drop off for sites in the 7th position as opposed to the 1st or 2nd, that's no value for the discount.

I have to find a way to provide the same value in less time: become more productive. I've been doing this for years, and squeezing any more productivity out of what I do is damn near impossible. A lot of it is creative, especially the writing part, and you can't just shave a few minutes off that process to save a dime.

So, in effect, in order to make sure I get the jobs, I've just been bidding lower, which means I'm working for less, which means I can pay less for things, which means the people who provide those things will have to offer discounts which will provide me with less, which means I have to work more, but since I'm doing that for less, well... Vicious circle. Discount everything means less for everyone, and that sharing of less is the real legacy left behind by George W. Bush and all the idiots who voted for him.

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