Monday, August 5, 2013

It's Commodity Right? 
Except When It's Not.

A few years ago while signing vendor checks, an invoice from a new supplier stood out. It listed "paperclips." I hate to be the "bean counter" but this seemed irresponsible to me and I shot off an email to my team: "who ordered 400 paperclips for $45?"

One of my long-time employees (whom won't name but will just refer to as "Nicole") said: "Oh DG, those are for proposals." "You can buy 1,000 at Staples for $5" I replied. She showed me one of the tins of Italian paperclips. They were nice -- elegant. Almost like art objects of flat hammered brass wire shaped in a spiral. Nicole showed me a cover letter clipped to a proposal. "See now much better that looks DG?" She was right. Admittedly, up to that point I'd given little thought to paperclips, as the only differentiator was size. I'd seen them as a commodity until someone pointed to one that was different, nicer, and in this case, better.

When I shifted my focus from the cost to to the value these objects added, $45 seemed like a bargain. It's now five years later and we still have some. The cost that works out to $9 a year. Which is am amazing deal.

If you don't believe me, I'll send you one. 

Copyright 2013, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.