As an outsourced provider of marketing services to technology companies we find ourselves in conversations about how much marketing programs cost just about every day. These are very important discussions that have a wide ranging and long term impact on a company. Every company should do everything it can to execute its marketing plans for as little money as possible. Value achieved is the result of two factors: the outcome, and the cost. Driving down the cost is an effective way to improve the value achieved. The strange thing to me however is the reluctance to drive the cost all of the way to zero.
That is right, we are the outsourced provider, making us the company that gets the money associated with the cost in the Value = Outcome / Cost formula, and I just said our clients are often reluctant to reduce the cost of their marketing programs to zero. I am not saying however that we are willing to work for free -- I am saying that the most expensive marketing programs are the ones that should not happen in the first place. The only way to have an infinitely expensive marketing program is to have zero outcome. Bad ideas cannot be changed into good ideas by doing them for less money. Bad ideas should be killed off and replaced with other better ideas.
So the next time you find yourself talking about how you want to do the same thing you did last year, but for less money: make sure you are also asking if the program is worth doing at all.