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Thread: Don't rely too much on a Web site?

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    Default Don't rely too much on a Web site?

    Today I read what I think may be a little surprising. Cameron S. Foote, president of Creative Business, has this to say about a Web site for a graphic design or communications business:

    (A Web site) is an essential element in today's promotional arsenal. But readers should be cautious about relying on it too much. In most cases a Web site serves only as a way for clients to “check out” those with whom they are considering doing business—the virtual equivalent of a portfolio-showing appointment. It is seldom the main reason a client selects a supplier. Moreover, sites that exhibit gratuitous creativity or sport complex technology can easily turn off more clients than they impress. (1)
    I believe promotion may require a lot more than a Web site if Foote is correct. Agree? Disagree?

    Jagella

    (1) Cameron S. Foote, The Business Side of Creativity, (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.; New York; 2006) p. 223-224

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    I to some extent agree, with that has been said by Foote. However, it depends on the site and what the aim of the site is.

    I think the geographic spread of where some companies are getting their clients from now, is leading to a website being essential for potential clients to see an online portfolio. However at the same time, that website needs to sell a potential customer on contact you, unless the site is being used to refer potential customers to view as a portfolio.

    One other thought i have on this though is that having a website primarily as a sales tool in the market of web and graphic design, possibly is a little bit off, as the number of businesses in that market all with websites, all trying to get the same customer is going to be a good way to have to many competing in the same place for the same customers.
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    In our case the web site is a magnet to lead the person to the sale (thus a marketing tool). It is never the closer. This would not necessarily be true if I was selling books or other merchandise such as is done on Amazon.com. In our case we sell web sites, graphic design, programming services and SEO so we end up closing the sale by phone or email.

    How much one depends on the web site is determined by the type of product or service they sell. In some cases it is nothing more than a fancy brochure driving the person to call an 800 number or fill out a contact form. In other cases it is 100% of the sales right through to accepting payment and delivering the product.
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    I suspect the nature of a graphics design business is not necessarily local. By that I mean your customers may be around the country or world.

    I would think of it as an online brochure. You still need to close the deal, but it gets you into the short list.

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    Well I think you could say the same about anything along the chain of landing a client. No one thing by itself leads to the sale. For example someone may find my site through a search engine or a link on another site. They may find something I said on this forum and then click to my site. Maybe it's an add that leads them to me or a recommendation from another client.

    Once on my site that person might then check out my portfolio or my blog or any of my sales pages to decide whether or not to email or call. After the initial communication my response will play a role as will future back and forths.

    If any part of that chain fails in it's job there's no client. So technically you shouldn't rely too much on your website because there are so many other parts you also need to consider. But if the message is to say your website isn't all that important or that you don't need one, then I disagree. It's like saying you don't need to bring your portfolio to an interview since you still need to answer all the questions.

    Just to repeat there's a lot of different components to turning a complete stranger into a client. And if any of those components breaks down you end up with no client. So no one component alone closes the deal, but all are essential to closing that deal.
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    I like the name Creative Business. As I understand the point being made, I agree just like everyone else has said so far. Foote's comment being quoted seems to clearly indicate the web site is important. I suspect the point is that some designers may think if they do a good enough job on their web site, then they should succeed. That is clearly not true, and I think vangogh did a good job illustrating how all things work together.
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    Reading the quote again I would take issue with the following:

    Web site serves only as a way for clients to “check out” those with whom they are considering doing business
    That might have been true at one time, but today a good website is an interactive environment where site owner and site visitor, designer and client can interact and develop a relationship. For example this very week I'm working on two websites for a company. The sites came about through someone who's been reading my blog for awhile. He commented, I replied. I commented on his blog, he replied. We emailed each other and developed a relationship. He liked my designs and in time contacted me about work.

    That's a different model than potential clients 'checking out' my site to decide whether or not to do business with me. The initial visit to my site had nothing to do with business. It was to read something I had written and only months later did business come out of it.

    You can much more interactivity on your site than a blog and you can have your site serve other purposes than lead generation for your design services. The snippet of the quote above is really a limited view of what a website is and what it may become.

    I still agree with the general point that there's more to the sale than your site. Even in my example the business came about due to more than me having a site. But I thought I would turn the conversation a bit.
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    It depends on your business.

    I suspect many of us here depend on our websites a great deal. I know I do. A converting website can easily be your most powerful marketing bullet (general "a human closes the sale" point accepted.)

    But, say, Pepsi? I'm pretty sure their website is lower on their list of "what marketing works best" than it is mine.
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    I'll go along with that Dan. Definitely it's horses for courses. Imagine amazon.com without a web site? But Joe's Barber Shop on Main St. would get by fine with no web presence.

    One of the tweeters I follow makes her living 100% on Social Marketing advice. Web presence is everything. It's all about the niche you're in. She must spend at least 8 hours a day twittering - has an enormous following on her Twitter and Blog etc..

    It's all about where you find your market and how to keep market share you've captured (that is, if you want to keep it
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    Quote Originally Posted by billbenson View Post
    I suspect the nature of a graphics design business is not necessarily local. By that I mean your customers may be around the country or world.

    I would think of it as an online brochure. You still need to close the deal, but it gets you into the short list.
    That's about right, Bill, but I understand that when it comes to graphic design, aside from online work like Web sites and banner ads, you'll work mostly with local clients face-to-face.

    Jagella

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