Ever hear anyone tell you they were, faster, better, and cheaper than any of their competitors? I find it amazing what some of us in the marketing industry attempt to get away with. Sure, everyone is unique unto themselves, but let’s face it, everyone in a specific industry simply cannot be the best in what they do, can they?
There’s the best, and then the others follow in ranking based on the criteria. That’s sort of saying all doctors are the same. The one at the top of his class, when graduating medical school is called Doctor. The one that ranked the poorest, yet still managed to graduate is still then, called Doctor.
Think about that for a moment.
In the web design and search engine optimization business, creativity rules just ahead of intellect and expertise. It has always been that way, long before WordPress sites became the new standard in template-style website building. The great thing about the thousands of templates available, and the seemingly unlimited ways the right agency can customize them, no two websites ever need to be the same. WordPress sites are retina-ready, responsive, and highly customizable. The hard part of coding has been done by the developers, and the same template can be customized to the point that it becomes “unique” to itself.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other “affordable” platforms you see advertised on television, radio and billboards. Some platforms are even free to the user for purchasing the hosting service or lending them your contact list so they can leverage you to advertise their services. Even race car drivers hawked the services of one of the most popular “web services” companies. But do you truly believe a free, or $1.99 a month website looks, operates and is as searchable as a professionally designed and built website can?
Don’t Pull My Chain
This rant comes from a recent encounter with a, and I’ll use the term loosely, “competitor” a short while ago. Said competitor joined the Chamber of Commerce, and spoke quite excitedly on the value proposition their business provides: “Fast Turnaround, Low Cost, and Responsive.”
A long time ago I discovered that there are some unwritten yet immutable rules in marketing and advertising. Two of my favorites happen to cut right to the heart of what’s being professed in this competitor’s pitch.
It doesn’t matter the marketing medium; the two rules of which I speak boil it down to the essence.
The “Who else can say that?” rule. This rule applies to statements that are supposed to serve as a call to action. In this case, when the person said, “We provide fast turnaround and low cost” “Who else can say that?” comes into play. Just about every business on the planet, that’s who. Get my point?
The “Well, I would hope so!” rule. The statement the person made about their websites being “Responsive,” The second rule – “Well, I would hope so!” That’s akin to a hair salon advertising “cuts, perms, styles.” Well I would hope so. A website today that is not mobile optimized (responsive) is a loser. Today’s users won’t bother with a site on their mobile devices if they have to scroll up-down/left-right. They move on to another one in the sector they are searching within.
What am I getting to? Read on…
Their own website was very badly designed, both visually and functionally (shoe-maker’s shoes clearly doesn’t apply here) and generally they appear to be a group of downsized low-level corporate types who are now housewives looking to score some pin money.
This convinced me that the approach like our agency’s will be far superior because of several factors:
- We take the time to learn about the client’s target audience, and invest the time to develop the personas we need to speak to with our content
- We go way beyond “responsive” and deliver a better user experience, something programmers and self-taught, mass market platform users will never be able to match
- We provide an ideal blend of content creation, page design, graphic arts, technology/SEO, professional photography and psychology that non-marketers will never grasp
- We have years of experience, with our roots firmly planted in years of successful traditional marketing and have been relentless in an ongoing progression of education in the evolving digital marketing landscape
When someone that is not seasoned in the web design field attempts to perform a Do It Myself strategy (or pass the assignment to someone with even less talent), they fail to recognize that it takes much more than a pretty home page. They want to be faster, better and desire cheaper, but clean functional design goes beyond the technology. Sure, done for you, mass market templates might have some inbred features, but if you look closely, most businesses such as lawyers and dentists have similar if not identical sites. There are huge businesses in the world that offer all sorts of what I call them “Me Too” marketers. That’s what you get from Faster, Better, and Cheaper, flat fee website builders. Some page selections, color schemes and “Me Too” graphics. There isn’t much thought about functionality and more.
In the present smartphone world, people searching for a particular industry, say “restaurants near me” results will generally come up with a long list of them. What is critical are the BIG THREE (I even add a 4th). Inexperienced web designers don’t even recognize the value of having the NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) clearly visible on the home page. Usually they bury this information in the footer somewhere. Not good.
The BIG FOUR that I mentioned is nothing more than the addition of information, or NAPI, name, address, phone number, information like hours of operation, menu, coupons, newsletter sign up or other information that would be important to the persona that might search for their site. None of these or other “special info” should be downloadable. Imagine reading a restaurant menu that pdf formatted on a smartphone; impossible unless you scroll up/down – left/right. Doing so will send the reader into convulsions. Yet, knowing this, how many sites have you come across with these specific failures? More than anyone can guess, I am certain. There is an easy solution and it is quite affordable; a mobile website or mobile landing page. Duh.
For accelerated growth, the small business owner must move beyond merely providing a “digital brochure” or be satisfied just to be a participant on the internet. Success comes from a structured and diverse marketing process, along with a plan to support it. It must be sustainable, flexible yet easily analyzed and measured.
Such a plan has to align with the known behaviors of their target audiences, be repetitious, and most of all enhance the perception of their business. The company website is the virtual replica of your bricks and mortar business; if you are purely online, it’s your virtual storefront. It has to appeal to and serve the customers of which they seek. And as the web has shown time and time again, it’s far too competitive to not take this matter seriously.
Faster, Better, and Cheaper
When small business owners contact us, it is often because their website isn’t producing new customers. They believe that having a website and “being on the internet” is enough. When we provide a website analysis, and point out the deficiencies in their low-cost website, they often appear surprised and sometimes even let down. No one likes to spend money with no return on investment, whether it’s a vacation, a new car, or a marketing tactic. But an ineffective website is much more destructive, because of the lost opportunity cost it represents.
In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone where, given limited resources, a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives.
In simpler terms, how much incremental business might you have garnered if the website had been productive? How much new business went elsewhere (your competition) because the faster, better, and cheaper website really didn’t perform as it might have? That is one of the processes every business owner must undergo routinely- analyzing their KPI’s – if they want to see process and performance improvement in their organization.
There are lots of website providers, across a spectrum of investment, from free to thousands of dollars. Just because someone offers a faster, better, cheaper option doesn’t mean it has any value. The real question that needs to be answered is: how does your company website help your business generate and convert new customers, thereby growing revenues?
* A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use KPIs to evaluate their success at reaching targets.