Just one designers ramblings about things that inspire me, observations, and advice about marketing.

A recent interchange at a networking event spurred this on. I think all of us in design / marketing / or web development have had a similar conversation. And in this case I thought maybe this situation deserved more than a shrug and a shake of the head, which is my usual response to similar exchanges.

The conversation went something like this…

” Did I hear you do web design”?

“Yes you did, that’s one of the things I do.”

“I’ve got a question for you”

“Shoot”

He hands me his cliparty business card and then…

< BEGIN RANT>

“I want to know why a website has to be so expensive. My friends and I we just want simple stuff, no e-com this or twitter that, just something simple, a simple website. We want to pay like no more than $500, and everyone we talk to wants $5000. Why can’t anyone build us what we need for a couple hundred bucks?”

</END RANT>

My blank expression and general posture probably would have been enough, but I responded by saying something similar to “Certainly not every website costs $5000, some are much more expensive. ”

Thankfully he immediately moved on to the next person in the room and I didn’t need to clarify much more than that. But afterwards I began wondering what the answer to his question really was.

My husband generally responds to such questions by asking what kind of car the person drives. He crafts his response based on what their answer is.

Oh you drive a mercedes? Why did you choose that car? You could have chosen an old chevy from the used car lot? But you didnt? Why? Oh you like a reliable, comfortable, attractive car, one that makes a statement, one that helps you stand out from the crowd?

Or

Oh you drive a Ford 350 pickup? Why did you choose that truck? You could have selected a lighter duty vehicle that would be better on gas, and probably cheaper. Oh, you need a truck that meets your needs, one that is powerful enough to handle the jobs you throw at it.

And so on.

His technique is a good analogy for people who truly don’t understand the value that an asset such as a great website can be for their business. The car comparison works to get people to start to see the light. And with it, you can begin to engage and connect. But it doesn’t do the whole job.

So, why does a website have to be so expensive?

The answer is certainly not simply the hours that it takes to plan, design and build an excellent, intuitive, effective website.

If hours were the answer to cost alone, then every talented artist and craftsperson I know would be getting gazillions of dollars for their incredible work.

Its certainly not simply some sort of mathematical equation of the cost of inventory + markup + overhead like it is with retail pricing.

Its certainly not simply a matter of looking at “the going rates”,  and choosing something in the middle, because everyone in this industry prices differently according to their customer base and expertise.

So again.. one more time… So, why does a website have to be so expensive?

One of our clients can actually trace 100% of his business back to the site that we built for him. 100%. Thats a lot of power for a bunch of pixels.

Another of our clients increased attendance to a promotional event by 60% after the launch of a  marketing campaign and website we put together. Their goal was a 15% increase. We slam dunked it.

So what can we accomplish, enhance or effect with a website or for that matter, excellent design and creative marketing techniques? Oh things like…Increase traffic, gain new customers, increase revenue, attract better clients, close more sales, respond to more inquiries, improve your reputation, help you stand out from your competitors, ensure that you look professional in a world full of amateurs, convey your brand, get out the vote, introduce a new product, provide a venue to showcase your work, attract the right audience, entice potential customers, support your mission, showcase your skillset, shine a light on your work.

Can you put a price on that?

Yes, actually you can, its called professional marketing, and today at the end of 2010, a website is a huge and powerful part of a marketing plan.

Hiring an expert will make your company look like an expert too. The converse is also true.

You need to decide how want your customers to think of you.

Uncle Harry or your next door neighbors son might do a great job for free, and if you have a tiny side business selling crocheted toaster covers, it’s probably exactly what you need.

But if you run a legitimate business, are a professional artisan, or a professional anything, and you want to succeed you need to tell the world about what you do. And you want the world to see you as you deserve to be seen. These days that means having a website that shows the world how wonderful you are at what you do.

Accomplishing that takes skill, experience, planning, artistic sense, technical expertise, creativity, energy, research, dedication, reliability, resources, time, and in some cases intuition and good judgment.

You need to decide whether you, or your business, are worth the investment.

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