THE BLOG

Is being cheap really that bad?

03/02/2015 14:55 GMT | Updated 04/04/2015 10:59 BST

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A brilliant man once explained to me how Eurostar 'increased customer satisfaction' by spending £6bn on making the journey forty-five minutes shorter. That brilliant man, Rory Sutherland, then explained what he'd have done given the opportunity. Rory's suggestion was to line the train with the world's most beautiful male and female models, all of them serving complimentary Chateau Petrus. You'd have £4bn to spare, and the customers would plea for the journey to be longer!

The simple fact is people don't look at a problem and think of the most direct way to solve it, they often seek the most expensive option. I make documentaries, mostly for television, but I distribute a lot of them independently through my youtube channel. There's an undeniable relation between expense and people's perception of how effective a solution is. One of my friends shoots stills. The other day she explained that she thinks her potential clients 'respond better to higher quotes.' I doubt she's complaining, but it doesn't make for much creative progression.

The risk of taking on new ideas is greater than ever. Whenever I sit across the table from a commissioner, they ask me to make innovative programs. That's just before they ask me for case studies or three examples of where it's worked before. My team and I work our proverbial bollocks off to identify specific goals and reach them in the most direct way possible. Sometimes the old ways provide a well-trodden path to follow and other times 'thinking outside the box' [wretch] can save money, time, and resources.

Creators should continue to learn lessons from previous generations but for the sake of progression, everyone should be encouraged to think laterally. Perhaps Rory's suggestions for the Eurostar were a little controversial, but his solutions enable a new type of thinking. 76% of First Capital Connect customers said that they'd be happy to spend longer on trains if free WiFi were provided. A solution that costs so little, yet has a high impact on the perception of a brand. The perception of a product is undeniably important and as a brand, your customer journey should be paramount. Companies and creators alike need to understand that changing perception doesn't need to cost much, whether it's a hotel lobby with a banging playlist or barbers that gives you a free beer with every cut.

Being cheap can be bad if you try to do expensive things. But if companies encourage a little divergent thought, little perks might just make customers a lot more loyal.