I love a sale. I can scout out the discount rack and put together a fabulous outfit for 75% off with the best of them! In today’s economy, retail stores are quick to offer special promotions and lure customers with the prospect of a deal. If you are shopping for back to school clothes or a new outfit – I encourage taking advantage of the deals to be had!

When is a deal not a good deal? Getting a discount when it comes to your brand, your marketing, or your communication strategy may cost you more than you think. I have noticed quite a few sites, list servers, and LinkedIn groups offering businesses the opportunity to request bids for marketing, communications and design needs. I’ve looked into a few of these to see how the process works. Project work is offered at a deep discount and the lowest price seems to win the project. It is not uncommon to see requests for a $200 website or $20 for a newsletter or brochure. This is one area where I would caution that a deal is not necessarily a good deal. Your brand image, logo, website, or collateral may be the first interaction a potential customer or client has with your company. You can not cover up a discounted, slow website, choppy communication, or visually confusing materials with a new belt or scarf like you can last year’s outfit! These items often stand alone. Within seconds of viewing or reading what you have to offer, prospects make a decision whether to continue to engage or not. The money you saved with your marketing deal may be costing you more clients than you realize.

Here’s a quick example that I believe will make my point. I recently received an email about a massage and wellness center. I’ve been feeling a little tight and thinking a massage might really be what I need. I was a good prospect – I was looking to buy what this company was selling! When I clicked on the link, I found the website was less than appealing. It lacked any imagery and even the logo looked rather generic. The copy on the site was repetitive and offered little real information. I quickly decided I did not feel comfortable with this establishment. With no visuals or details, I wasn’t confident that this business might not be run out of someone’s basement! The owner may be very qualified and offer the best massages in town. The visual and verbal presence however failed to instill any confidence or credibility. I was a lost potential. With a little more investment in creating an inviting logo, engaging copy and an informative website – one new customer alone could have potentially financed their initial marketing expense. Let’s say I get a massage once a month at $90, I buy a couple gift certificates at Christmas, plus I refer a few friends… you can see how quickly one good connection can cover the cost of investing in marketing!

I encourage you to save money on shoes, shirts and skirts, but not on your brand image or marketing. There is no such thing as last season’s marketing or an overstock on copy! With marketing and communications – you get what you pay for. Anyone willing to design your logo or create your marketing for very little most likely also comes with little experience or lesser capabilities. Make an investment in your brand and your presence and it will last for many seasons to come!