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Almost every service or product you pay for has a cheaper alternative. The same goes for many services in the digital marketing industry, including web development, app development, SEO, branding and design.
My company is in the digital industry, and we often encounter clients that mention they’ve found a much cheaper alternative overseas and ask us to match their pricing. We know how the story plays out. The client goes cheap, doesn’t get what they expected, gets frustrated, wastes time, wastes money and usually ends up starting from scratch.
Remember, cheaper does not mean better. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is supremely evident in web design and digital marketing. Here are five ways to get what you pay for in the digital marketing industry:
Most people won’t know the difference between a solid line of code versus a poor line of code, but everyone can tell when something doesn’t work right or look right on your site. This doesn’t mean that you have to go for the most expensive option out there, but you should find a balance between cost and quality that works for you.
Quality can be hard to judge and easy to fake. Ask questions to offset this knowledge gap. Ask for portfolio examples, referrals, case studies and anything else you can get your hands on to see the quality of the work firsthand. If the firm you’re hiring to do your website, logo or marketing materials doesn’t have good branding themselves, run.
There is nothing more frustrating than a massive drop-off in communication while you’re deep in a project. Expect this to happen if you’re working with a low-cost, bottom-barrel-priced firm or freelancer. Communication might be good until you make your first payment or until they hit a wall. It’s easy for things to get off track and for both parties involved to get busy, but the good ones will keep you in the loop during all phases of the project.
The question to ask yourself is if you want to be the one chasing project status updates, or if they should regularly be provided to you. Potential red flags to watch out for include subpar grammar in written communication, long delays in email responses and ignored chat messages. One way to keep your project on track is to ask the firm for a project timeline with details on specific milestones when they start the project. Set a standing weekly chat for you to get status updates and give feedback.
Accountability is paramount in this industry because a lot of people don’t do what they say they’re going to do. I have seen development shops overseas that get business and then farm it out to even lower cost freelancers to get the job done. With that many variables, accountability goes out the window. Launching a new brand’s app or website is an involved, collaborative process and you need your developer to do what they say they are going to do.
You can flat out ask your vendor if they are subcontracting out any of the work, but be prepared for them to say what you want to hear. So, ask if they can provide an organizational chart of their full-time employees. Another great way to check accountability is to ask them to have a group video chat so your team can meet theirs and you can see their office and operation.
Value long-term partnerships.
It’s better to grow with a firm than to start cheap and have to find someone to fit your needs later. You will make more money and have a bigger budget as time goes on. What seems like a huge project cost to you now will not seem as daunting one, three and five years from now. Invest in finding a firm that will be a strategic partner and grow with you step by step, not one that is just chasing a quick buck. When your agency is invested in your success, great things happen for both parties.
Asking good questions about how they started, how many people they had when they started, and comparing that to how much they’ve grown are good measures of their trajectory so you can see if they are trending the same way you are. You’ll also want to learn what new technologies and functionalities they’ve added to their offerings over the years. If the firm is still doing the same thing as when it started, this could be a red flag.
Value your value.
Find a firm that values your business and is invested in your growth and success. Our clients are not just numbers to us. Piggybacking on the long-term partnership concept, find a firm that values what you do and what you have to offer. Find a firm that loves and is passionate about your product; that will shine through their work. If they don’t really care about you, your brand or your industry, the soul of the project will be empty and it will show.
We’ve had good luck with vendors who have shown us that they were willing to go above and beyond. This included vendors that stayed late to work our U.S. hours to collaborate with our team, showed flexibility in billing terms as needed and demonstrated willingness to assign additional resources to help meet our deadlines.
If a firm is willing to invest in your success, you’re in a good place. Your agency should be in love with you and what you do. Don’t settle for anything less.
April 3, 2019 at 08:10AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs