Friday, February 12, 2010

The $6 Haircut

One of my colleagues alerted me to a Superbowl ad which ran last Sunday, concerning a barber shop which began offering $6 haircuts.

The problem was that the $6 haircuts were, of course, substandard. So how did competitors compete with this "too good to be true" offer? By putting up a sign saying "We fix $6 haircuts".

Jay Shepherd, a lawyer here in Boston, provides some good analysis: the barber who fixed the $6 haircuts "knew his customers would appreciate that value, and would pay for it".

It is easy to see parallels in the SOA space. Whole advertising campaigns have been built around "hey, we'll give you our product effectively for free - it may not work as well as the other guys, but we won't tell you that". Then customers must deal with the consequences, either using a substandard solution, or spending a great deal of money trying to get the "cheap" solution to work as well as the solution they should have used in the first place. The lesson is: "don't be the guy with the $6 haircut".