The majority of us grew up without an education in code and digital marketing. So now as a business owner, you know it is imperative that you have a website in order to stay up to date and and ahead of the competition. You know that your website has the potential to be a valuable source of traffic and ultimately sales.
Technology is changing exponentially and the pace of change is relentless. With that comes differences in user behaviour, Google and Facebook algorithms, design, technology (voice search in 2018 is set to be huge and a game changer) and competition is rife. For your business to survive you need to adapt. In order to thrive you need to drive your team to get in front of your customers, innovate and offer an edge that your competitors cannot.
Which begs the question; with regards to your website, digital marketing, design, brand, content and user experience should you do it yourself? Should you hire a freelancer? Hire a full time employee? Or should you commission an agency?
Today we all use the internet mindlessly. Customers don’t really notice the many factors of design, UX, loading speed and so on until it’s really awful and they make their judgements instantly. Despite the fact that most of us have not had an education in ‘The Internet’, we all use it. It’s just there. We do our shopping, watch video footage, read articles and share content. Major brands have invested heavily in digital technology, leaving a discerning public with high expectations and little or no knowledge on the lengths that were taken to achieve this.
Your customers instantly make assumptions about people, news stories, products and your business. Their behaviour can be pretty damning too. For example, according to Google 53% of all searches are made via mobile devices and if users do not find what they’re looking for in 3 seconds (yes! 3 seconds) they leave.
The decision on how to realise your digital marketing ambitions is not to be taken lightly.
The Sole Trader/ Bedroom Start Up
If you’re a sole trader or start up then the chances are finances are tight. For now. There are some great options out there that enable you to drag, drop, slide and make a website yourself. These sites are cost effective and learning to make your own website can be both informative and eye opening. The downside is that as you’re likely just learning how to do this and (as with everything else) getting it right is time consuming, slow and the results can be less than perfect. This is often when the reality check hits. What’s SEO? What do these Google Analytics do? Why can’t I get this darn picture to line up with my logo?!
One of the biggest expenses in web design is labour and material. Anyone can do a DIY job. I could install my kitchen myself (joking aside, I really am). Given that I have no previous experience and a tiny budget, I would be really setting myself up for failure if I was expecting the results of my labour to look anything like these kitchens at Tom Howley. Sigh. That does not mean my kitchen will be bad. In fact, I’m sure I will eventually be bursting with pride and it will be just right for who I am and what I can afford right now.
The same applies to your website. There are some fantastic solutions out there enabling you to launch your site for as little as £5. This often means doing most of the legwork yourself, reading manuals, learning, failing and learning and then finally, landing on your feet. If this sounds like the right solution for you check out: Wix.com, Squarespace.com, Shopify.com, Godaddy.com and the many other options all vying for your attention.
If your business is a little more established then the likelihood is that you are time poor, but have a little more cash to invest.
The next option to consider is a freelancer. Freelancers bridge the gap between DIY and agencies. Often working independently they will likely have more experience than you do (unless they started yesterday) and as they’re a one man band, should be able to offer a competitive price. This mutually convenient arrangement often means that you can work with them as and when, and you’re not committed to them indefinitely.
The downside is that if they fall ill, take on too much work or go on vacay to Australia, the work stops. And you may very well feel it.
Open a dialogue and really take the time to investigate whether they’re the right option for you (this applies to agencies too!). Don’t be afraid to ask to see other case studies/portfolio of work and where possible testimonies. Consider whether their design tenets are suitable to your brand and the audience you’re trying to reach. Try to communicate what you’re looking for as clearly as possible. Do think about who you are trying to reach, who your ideal customers are and whether your website delivers what they want. Show examples of websites and features you like. Be clear on how much you’re willing to spend (this will affect how much time they have to spend on your project).
And be realistic, don’t ask them to deliver a Tom Howley kitchen for the price of a second hand DIY one by tomorrow.
For businesses with neither the time nor the marketing inclination, should you consider expanding your team?
Having a full time, permanent employee who understands your business, brand voice, company culture and who steers the company’s marketing strategy can be hugely valuable. They work in-house, where you can see them and you can work closely with them every day if you want. Having a permanent member of staff who is vested in the team, product, service and understands your customer has untold benefits. How can it not be beneficial to have someone working full time on this?
The downside is that marketing is a hugely broad discipline. So should you hire a web designer, a digital marketing manager, PR and media specialist, a content writer and a graphic designer? I’m sure you would if you could afford all those salaries. No individual can cover all those bases expertly within a standard working week. Likewise, a one man team falls prey to the issues mentioned above, when they fall ill, take a vacation, or move on, there is a large void to fill.
Above all, there is a major skills shortage in the the tech industry in general. Hiring a full time developer is incredibly difficult to recruit for a) because of the skill shortage b) because most will thrive on and improve their cv’s with the experience they gain from working on several projects at any one time as part of a team.
Agencies come in a variety of shapes and sizes but generally speaking they come in teams. That often means you’re paying for overheads, but it also means you’re paying for expertise. Which means they know what they’re doing. Upfront they cost more but overall savings can be made as they deliver the project more swiftly, efficiently and to a higher standard.
As professional service providers, an agency will be working on several projects at one time. They work day in day out on delivering the service you’re looking for. That’s invaluable. In the same way, you work day in day out to give your clients your offering. You will have expertise regarding your product, service and industry. Despite this, one of the trappings of being immersed in one’s specialty is the use of language that customers don’t understand. An outside team will be able to bridge those gaps offering perspective, question assumptions, advise on best practice and draw on solutions that were discovered in past projects.
At Plug and Play, for example, this also means that there are savings to be had as whilst your project is under the watchful eye of a senior, a junior does most of the heavy lifting. This is our way of delivering exceptional results and keeping costs low.
Another benefit agencies have comes from the volume of projects they have worked on. They will have seen and resolved problems other businesses have had similar to yours and will likely have a solution that can only come from cold hard experience.
If I may return to one of my previous analogies. You may recall this story of an amateur attempted a restoration of a spanish fresco. The attempt made global headline news. While the PR and world wide attention would be great for your business, the restoration wasn’t even mildly appropriate or sympathetic of the original by Elias Garcia Martinez. Hence why it made the news.
Likewise, Tom Howley clients would be horrified if they paid a premium price tag for a state of the art quality kitchen and received an installation error like this one.
Ultimately the decision on how to deliver your website and digital marketing is yours and it’s important that the end result is in line with your circumstances, budget, brand, product and most importantly your clients.
At Plug and Play, we see many clients who come to us for solutions and expertise. The benefit for our clients is that they get our expert team delivering a highly ambitious, innovative strategy and competitive edge, but have only one point of contact. You’ll have a dedicated Project Manager to oversee the entire project and liaise directly with. There’s no need to pay for training, take time out for coaching or appraisals. Instead you can spend your valuable time doing your day job, safe in the knowledge that we are doing ours. Delivering your project to your exacting standards.
Do you have a project in mind? Then please feel free to contact us here.
To see some of our case studies then click here.