Nowadays, an online presence represents without any doubt the opportunity to grow your business. The internet can be your 24×7×365 salesman, promoting your business and closing deals even while you are asleep!
So, why would you try to cheap out when it comes to your online presence? The less you pay, the more likely you will receive cheap service and results. The equation is simple: you will get what you pay for.
A site that will have a unique design perfectly matching your company’s image and, more importantly, a site that will be appealing to your target clientele is an investment, not a cost.
Marketing channels to promote your business
Besides your online presence, we will consider the following marketing channels:
- Periodically-delivered publications (Publisac-like delivery, mailed-in flyers/coupons, yellow
- Newspapers and specialized magazines,
- Panoramic/public transportation advertising, and
- TV and radio commercials.
For practical purposes, and since prices vary from design agency/freelancer to design agency/freelancer, we will assume a hypothetical price of C$1,500 (merely C$125 per month) for an informative design with basic eCommerce features; not bad for a salesman that works even when you are closed, that does not require vacations, does not demand salary increases and who, besides everything, gives you direct feedback from potential and current clients.
As opposed to any of the above channels, when you acquire your design, you will not need to spend a single penny for this concept until you decide that it does not longer meet your needs.
Keep in mind that this price does not include any fees related to hosting, domain name or email management, added-value services that most web design agencies offer. These fees also vary according to the every web design agency thus let us assume a price of C$240 per year (C$20 per month).
So, setting up your virtual company will represent the following investment:
- First year: C$1740, for informative design style with basic eCommerce features.
- Subsequent years: C$240 (this price may increase over time due to different factors, such as inflation or upgrades in equipment).
But, to compare apples with apples, we will need to assume year-long campaigns in all of the following marketing channels.
Periodically home/business-delivered publications, Newspapers and specialized magazines
In Montreal, the most recognizable company in this field may be PubliSac (a bag with flyers delivered to every household every week) and yellow pages, but there are other companies that function in the same way, targeting specific cultural or religious markets.
This service will indiscriminately deliver your marketing material to the requested neighborhood; it will not matter if your target clientele lives within the delivery area or not. Furthermore, you have little or close-to-nothing feedback from your campaign; although your sales may increase, you do not really know how or when a potential customer is considering to use your services.
You also need to consider that your ad may be placed alongside your competitors (in the case of yellow pages, it may be hundreds of competitors); this puts you in disadvantage since clients can easily be misguided or attracted by your competitor’s promotions or their fancier, bigger, higher quality and, thus, more expensive ads.
Moreover, you may think that ads in newspapers and specialized magazines is a desirable window for your business, consider that it will be you and your money who will keep these publications alive, but this does not necessarily translates into more business for you. Besides, these particular publications tend to overprice (a lot) the space they sell and they are little interested in your business, as long as you keep on overpaying for the ad-space.
Depending of the conception, design, size, colors, typography and images, a year-long campaign using this kind of service may represent an expense of several thousands of dollars every single year that your campaign is active.
Setting up your campaign using this marketing channel will cost you:
- First year: from a minimum of C$2,000 to several thousand dollars.
- Subsequent years: As much as the first year; maybe less if you compromise to a 2-year long campaign.
Panoramic/Public transportation advertising
Panoramic advertising (for example in highways) represents a cost that rounds tens of thousands of dollars a year, depending of the location of the ad and the potential exposure you “receive” by using it. You also have to consider that this material could be damaged by severe weather conditions and [costly] maintenance or repair fees may apply; these fees could be as high as having to repay again for printing and installation.
Public transportation advertising, particularly inside the métro (subway) wagons, is very pricey; your cost will depend on whether you want your material in every wagon, in every métro station, every métro line, if it is located in the boarding areas, close to entrances/exits, etc. A typical one-month campaign may cost you as much as C$8,000 dollars or more for a “full” package and as little as C$2,000 for one ad in one to three wagons.
When it comes to advertising on buses the cheapest exterior ad-space price will depend on the bus route selected to run your campaign; one-month could represent an expense of minimum C$2,000.
Setting up your campaign using this marketing channel will cost you:
- First year: C$24 to C$96 thousand dollars.
- Subsequent years: Same as above; may be less if you sign-up for a 2-year contract.
TV and Radio
I will not go to deep into this two channels since we know that advertising in this media represents a high amount of capital to produce and broadcast your marketing material; a constant year-long campaign can reach tens of millions of dollars.
A 30-second TV commercial could easily cost you over C$100,000 when broadcasted in Prime Time schedule; assuming you run one TV commercial per week we are talking about C$5.2 million dollars a year —although it could be less if you sign up for a year-long campaign—. You may also consider running a one, two or three-month campaign but, how would you promote your business during the remaining eleven, ten or nine months of the year?
Radio is more economical, a 30-second spot could cost as little of C$500, depending on the schedule or program during which you would like to broadcast your ad; one spot per week during a year will represent an outcome of C$26,000 —as with TV commercials, prices may decrease when you sign up for a year-long ad campaign—.
A campaign using this marketing channel will cost you:
- First year: From C$26,000 (radio) to C$5.2 million dollars (TV), as minimums.
- Subsequent years: Same as above; it may be less if you sign up for a multi-year promotional campaign.
Having said all that, I ask you again: Why would you cheap out when it comes to the design of your website when it is, for far, the tool that could bring the most benefits to your business in the long term?
If you are aiming to be a real competitor for well-established companies or if you want to distinguish yourself from the competition you must consider investing in hiring the services of professionals who will help you to market your business and products in the world-wide web.
When you pay peanuts you get monkeys; would you entrust the image of your company and your business to a monkey?
Would you entrust your car to an inexperienced mechanic? Would you entrust your smile to a dentist who has no teeth? Would you entrust your Canadian bookkeeping to an accountant who does not know what IFRS is?
Be intelligent and question yourself, why somebody with enough knowledge —in this case, to develop and integrate a full website— will sell their job for under minimum salary; it does not sound smart, does it? Most of these so-called “experts” will fail to provide adequate support to your changing needs because they simply lack the necessary technical know-how to do so.
When something is too good to be true, most of the times it is false.
Paying the adequate compensation to design, integrate and manage your website gives you the right to demand quality service and quality work; you cannot expect much from somebody who charges you C$500 for a website that is a rip-off of another one or who offers you a template bought at C$50 bucks and resells it to you ten times its price (this is actually the most common practice of these self-proclaimed “experts”).
Also remember that you will not only need website design but also hosting, domain name and email management.
How useful could be for your business to have yourdomain.com and an email address @gmail.com or, even worse, @hotmail.com? What image are you transmitting to your potential and current clients when your page takes minutes to load or display content or when they access it using their mobile devices just to find out that your site looks terrible or does not work at all?
The easy way to detect a person with little knowledge in web design and best internet practices is done by looking at the source code of a page (learn how to do it with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari), if it looks something like the following image, avoid at all costs.
A “designer” who solely or almost solely writes HTML pages inside tables, —in other words, all or almost all the content is within <table>, <tr> and <td> tags, as highlighted in the previous image— either learned to make websites in the mid-1990s and never again updated his/her knowledge, uses programming software like Adobe Dreamweaver as if it were Microsoft Word or simply uses an automatic image slicer that create table-based results.
With today’s web design standards, tables are synonym of ignorance of the most advanced styling procedures to date: CSS2 and CSS3.
Programming and design have greatly evolved during the past decade; your design should not be only optimized for personal computers but for all those new internet-ready gadgets that appear in the market every month, like tablets, smartphones, ebook readers, etc.
Besides tableless web design, question your design agency or freelancer about:
- Bandwidth limitations and hard drive space (avoid anyone offering “unlimited” anything, there is no such
thing as unlimited bandwidth and disk space),
- Easiness to add/update content,
- SEO practices applied to your future site (so you will be visible by search engines, like Google),
- RSS feeds and sitemaps (to promote your site),
- Social media integration (to interact with current and future clients),
- eCommerce and secure credit card transactions (you will need a SSL certificate in order to charge using credit cards).
These standard features are a must in today’s online marketing strategies for a business aiming to be one of the best.
Is your monkey up to the task?