I've been a long time fan and follower of author Seth Godin, whose ideas on marketing are as innovative as they are relevant to today's business environment. He recently posted the following article on his blog, which I felt particularly connected to.
Hardly Worth the Effort
by Seth Godin
In most fields, there's an awful lot of work put into the last ten percent of quality.
Getting your golf score from 77 to 70 is far more difficult than getting it from 120 to 113 or even from 84 to 77.
Answering the phone on the first ring costs twice as much as letting it go into the queue.
Making pastries the way they do at a fancy restaurant is a lot more work than making brownies at home.
Laying out the design of a page or a flyer so it looks like a pro did it takes about ten times as much work as merely using the template Microsoft builds in for free, and the message is almost the same...
Except it's not. Of course not. The message is not the same.
The last ten percent is the signal we look for, the way we communicate care and expertise and professionalism. If all you're doing is the standard amount, all you're going to get is the standard compensation. The hard part is the last ten percent, sure, or even the last one percent, but it's the hard part because everyone is busy doing the easy part already.
The secret is to seek out the work that most people believe isn't worth the effort. That's what you get paid for.
To many designers, the emergence of standardized templates and do-it-yourself technology are a threat to their livelihood, rendering their skills obsolete. However, Godin reminds us, and I echo the sentiment, that the value of a design professional will always be in the the expert care and attention to detail in our work.