One night after my daughter’s soccer practice I noticed a voicemail on my smart phone. The caller, I’ll call her Becky, left a message inquiring about my marketing services. Her daughter was also a soccer player and she happened to notice my phone number on the back of my vehicle while it was sitting in the parking lot of where I coach my daughter’s soccer team.
The next day I called her back. Her inquiry basically boiled down to this, “Greg, I really don’t even know if I can afford you. How much does a website cost anyway?”
Below I wanted to share with you the email that I sent to Becky. In it I respond to her question “How much does a website cost anyway?”
– Start of Unedited Email –
Becky, much of what I do often involves educating people on what online marketing is all about. When people are ignorant of the unknown they can sometimes be reluctant to pursue a professional solution or they try to “band-aid” a solution by going the “do it yourself” route, while in the end turning around and hiring a “pro” to fix what they broke. . I always feel like that when something goes wrong with my car. I know in order to fix “it”, whatever “it” is, is going to cost me something to pay the mechanic who is the “pro” on all things cars.
Becky, I see so many small businesses that skimp and limp along when it comes to their marketing, when marketing is the most important variable to their short-term and long-term business success. Marketing props ups sales and more sales. Bad marketing, equals less growth. Good, smart marketing equals increased customer growth. A good website is only the beginning to a long-term partnership with the marketing company that you choose.
Let me communicate one more notion with you before asking you to spend a dollar with me or anyone else you would hire to create your website …. (and btw this is a very good exchange, so I am enjoying the discussion).
As a business owner, you wouldn’t hire an employee without telling them what you expect of them. The same should be true of your marketing. Before you spend your first dollar on a website, social media or any other online tactic, you need to know why you’re doing it, and what you want the outcome to be (which is what you are doing – smile). A sound marketing strategy answers those questions, and lets you reach more prospects and generate bigger sales for your business.
I say all of this, because I could build you a website. I am confident of that. However a lot of what I do for clients is strategy based. I want to build you a website that connects you with the right prospects and ultimately generates income for you and your family. By using a metaphor, the last thing I want to do is to build you a 2 bedroom bungalow, when what you really need is a 5 bedroom two-story. In the end you would only be frustrated because you would need “more house.” Does this make sense?
Five years ago my wife Kathy and I built the house we are currently living in. We love it! The first thing we had to determine before we decided to build was how big (or small) of house we wanted (we have five kids)? and how much could we afford? We talked to builder after builder and their questions were all the same … “How much square footage do you folks need?” (aka How much house do we want to build?) and “How much can you afford?” Once we determined this (especially the “how much can we afford” question), then we looked for builders that could offer what we were looking for and that we could afford. Determining this was huge and significant for us before we could choose a builder who could build the right house for us.
It’s no different when setting out to build an online business. Don’t look at building a website as simply building a website. There are tons of people out there that can build a website. However, not everyone can strategically create an online solution based upon your marketing goals.
What is the amount of money you have set aside for this project? If you only tell me $200.00 then that tells me what kind of “house” you want to build. If you tell me $1,500.00, then that tells me what kind of house you want to build. My goal isn’t to spend all of your budget. It reveals two things: 1. What kind of house you can afford. and 2. If I am able to build you the house that you want.
You may have looked at my proposal and realize that we need to add “two more bedrooms” or another “bathroom”. I think the proposal I have submitted to you will accomplish what you need to get started. I also know, however, that at some point you are going to need to add a “bathroom” or an “extra room” to your digital house as your business grows. A website is always a work in progress. Every year you will want to set aside marketing dollars to up your online marketing game. No one builds a house and never invests anymore money into it to make improvements or make it look nicer than when they first moved in (paint, new carpet, furniture, etc.) My wife and I have invested lots of time and money in landscaping for our home. We get so many compliments on how nice our yard looks. Our $$ and time investment has paid off and it’s nice to know that others notice. Yeah!!!!
A website is such a great tool to communicate with new customers. And then there is the whole new media marketing opportunities called social media – Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and so much more. Check out my blog for some articles I have written on Social Media – http://crosscreativemarketing.com/blog
Becky, thanks for the great small-business-owner-to-small-business-owner discussion. Your marketing is crucial to your long-term success. If you feel that I would be a good fit for your new company then I’d love to serve your marketing needs that will evolve as your business grows.
– End of email –
So, how much does a website cost? My natural response to this question is to say this: You first need to have a strategic conversation with your marketing partner of choice and describe to them your marketing goals. If you don’t know what your goals are or don’t even have a marketing partner you should start with a Request For Proposal (RFP) document. A good RFP document will walk you through a set of good questions on what you want to accomplish with your online marketing. The exercise will not only help you, but it will also help the marketing partner you eventually feel comfortable with in hiring to help you execute your online marketing goals.