What’s Your Budget?

What’s Your Budget?

[vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][text_output]If you’ve read any of my posts in the past you may have noticed I can be a little sarcastic. I’m going to be particularly sarcastic in this post. At least I think I am, I’m feeling sarcastic!

I am going to keep this short. For a couple reasons, mostly because all the stuff that’s already been written before. I’m not writing any of it. I am searching the Internet. I searched for about 30 minutes.

Well, it all depends. It appears there are several ways to set budgets but I think a couple are better than the others.

Most folks agree it varies by industry and business size. It is also based on how much you want to grow, and how fast.

I do like this article from www.inc.com. How to Build Your Marketing Budget ((How to Build Your Marketing Budget)) because it’s short and easy to understand. I know you’re busy.

A marketing budget typically covers costs for advertising, promotion and public relations. Each amount varies based on the size of the business, its annual sales and how much the competition is advertising. Depending on the industry, [highlight type=”standard”]marketing budgets can range from as low as 1% of sales to over 30%. New companies may spend as much as 50% of sales for introductory marketing programs in the first year[/highlight]. Smaller business may just try to match the spending of their direct competitors.((Cost of Marketing: What Is the Average Budget? | LegalZoom.))

Okay, that second quote is a little vague. However, you can see a variance and what they should be based on.

You can stop reading right after this next sentence. For every million dollars of gross sales you should spend about $100,000 a year on marketing.

More info if you would like to keep researching. I am citing three articles for this article. You can go to those websites and read all the details if you like. Or, here’s a few more tidbits from those articles.

In addition to the “percentage of sales” method mentioned above here are a few more ways marketing budgets take shape.

Blank Slate: Just add it all up and pay for it. Who does this anymore?

Competitor Matching: Nothing wrong with this, especially if it works for you.

How Much Do We Have?: Sometimes we have to work this way because cash is limited or a budget was handed to us from someone else. Please be realistic and honest with your vendors. It will be to your advantage.((5 Guidelines for Establishing Your Marketing Budget – Maricich. links to a PDF.))[/text_output][accordion][accordion_item title=”Photo Credits”]Let’s commission this artist on your next project. See the photo here.[/accordion_item][/accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”ups-sidebar-keywords-for-hire”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Can anyone tell me how much a website costs?

Can anyone tell me how much a website costs?

[vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][text_output]Please pay attention to the date of this post. Because I WILL GIVE ACTUAL NUMBERS. If this post is old when you read it, take it in to consideration.

I’m basing this on my personal experience in the web design business since 1994. These are what I would call “RURAL PRICING” opposed to “URBAN PRICING”. URBAN defined as Boston, NYC, Chicago, LA, SF, Cupertino, etc. Better talent, higher cost of living, up to double these prices for URBAN.

I didn’t do any serious research. I didn’t look up things in the trade journals I subscribe to either. I just wrote.

First This post is for the small business owner or department manager who needs an understanding of website costs. You’re not going to get all the answers you need from reading this but it will help a great deal. You will see a price table further down the page. A seasoned web professional will immediately see these prices are for the sole proprietor up to [extra href=”#” title=”Define: Small Business” target=”blank” info=”popover” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”The U.S. Small Business Administration defines “small business” according to a set of standards based on industry. | Manufacturing and mining <= 500 employees | Wholesale trade <= 100 employees | Retail and service <= $6 million average annual revenue | General and heavy construction <= $28.5 million average annual revenue | Special trade contractors <= $12 million average annual revenue |  Agriculture <= $0.75 million average annual revenue”] small business [/extra] websites.

How much does a new car cost?

You go first. How would you answer this question with a dollar amount? With a bit of reflection you might say cars cost from $12,000 to $200,000. Realizing this answer is not much help to narrow it down. Cars average $18,000 to $50,000. Most fall in to this price range. Most people buy from this price range. Other price ranges exists at $50-80, $80-125, etc. but they are smaller markets. Well thank you, that narrows it down a bit better.

We all understand car prices and how to purchase one a bit better than website design and build prices. Websites have unique factors to consider compared to purchasing a car. What I mean by that statement is that in order to comfortably afford a $75,000 car, assumptions of your income and the ability to afford the car, etc. are clarified by you and the car sales person within a few minutes.

Herein lies a problem that the auto industry has an easier time with. Cars are categorized, priced and marketed in generally neat groups that we all understand. After all they are a physical object; you can kick the tires. When shopping you know ahead of time the price range of cars. If you don’t know for sure, you ask and research for an hour or so. If you need help a car salesperson might ask you what you want to pay per month and show you what is available.

Adding and removing options from the car modify the price in a predictable way. But look at the website options to be considered below. How do you monetize that? In short, with effort. The best way is to start with a budget. Website are like cars in that there are certain things a car must and should have. After that, add specialization like 4WD to your car or an Email Marketing System to your website project or a sports transmission or staff training. Just like a car you can get these options at different quality and price ranges. But you probably would know the difference between an 4WD Subaru and a 4WD BMW just by sitting in the cars. When sitting in the BMW you might say “Yep! regardless if I buy it or not, I can feel why this BMW cost $35,000 more than the Subaru.” BMW just spent more time on the research, design, component quality, and build. Both have 4WD, Both are good cars at good value. Ah VALUE. The BMW might also be priced even higher because BMW feels they have VALUE. Ya, this is called Value Based Pricing. Will that happen when shopping for a website vendor? Let’s hope so. This is NOT a commodity.

How much does a website cost?

[/text_output][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”check-square-o”]I have to make an assumption list, that you:[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”] have your brand, identity and position all finished and performing well out there the market.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]have a quality and digital: photo, PDF, MSDS, spreadsheet, text file of every service, product, employee, customer, event, award, press release, license. It’s all inventoried and ready to go up on the website.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]have skilled and trained staff who also have the time to publish and manage all the above stuff.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]have strategies, marketing and launch campaigns ready to go for AR, AP, HR, Sales, Support.[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][text_output]All the things on the assumption list  are figured out, done, ready to go. We just need the website. Oh! OK, here we go. That’s a great base that we’ll start from with real numbers.

Here are your website design quotes…

[/text_output]

[pricing_table_column title=”Agency 1″ currency=”$” price=”3-15K” interval=”Launch Cost”][icon name=”check” class=””] Website Design


[icon name=”check” class=””] Production & Build


[icon name=”check” class=””] Content Management


[icon name=”check” class=””] Hosting


[icon name=”check” class=””] SSL, etc.[/pricing_table_column][pricing_table_column title=”Agency 2″ currency=”$” price=”15-30K” interval=”Launch Cost”][icon name=”check” class=””] Website Design


[icon name=”check” class=””] Production & Build


[icon name=”check” class=””] Content Management


[icon name=”check” class=””] Hosting


[icon name=”check” class=””] SSL, etc.[/pricing_table_column][pricing_table_column title=”Agency 3″ currency=”$” price=”30-45K” interval=”Launch Cost”][icon name=”check” class=””] Website Design


[icon name=”check” class=””] Production & Build


[icon name=”check” class=””] Content Management


[icon name=”check” class=””] Hosting


[icon name=”check” class=””] SSL, etc.[/pricing_table_column]

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Sleazy_Used_Car_Salesman_Marketing_Copywriting_GuaranteedHow did that happen?

[highlight color=”black”]Did you get estimates for a Hyundai, Subaru, and BMW? Maybe. Or is someone ripping you off? Maybe. Are one of the quotes value based? Maybe.[/highlight]

[clear]What do you think?

Are these numbers ridiculously low, high, or too big a range? What are you getting for your money anyway? If the assumption list is accurate your getting website design, production, SSL and a CMS. Maybe some training, hosting and so on.

Its likely A moderate amount to NONE of these things are included:[/text_output][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Consulting[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Writing, image editing, content inventory[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Ecommerce[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Search Engine Optimization[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Video, animation[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][text_output]

How to Price Your Website Project

On the web front pricing is not so easy, is it? Buyers don’t know how to shop or what they’re buying in this arena. Website agencies can appear to be [extra href=”#” title=”Define: Carpetbagger” target=”blank” info=”popover” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” info_content=”In United States history, a carpetbagger was a Northerner (Yankee) who moved to the South after the U.S. Civil War, especially during the Reconstruction era (1865-1877), in order to profit from the instability and power vacuum that existed at this time.”] carpetbagger[/extra]. Design is subjective. Trust is an issue. I hear ya.

  1. Find people you trust, trust them. Do what they recommend.
  2. Protect yourself. Establish and share the budget and timeline with your agency.
  3. I understand the concern of telling a sales person your budget and get sold a $20K website for $25K. Find people you trust.
  4. Start with “I need this, this and this. What do you think of that, what do you recommend and can I get it for $XXX?”
    A reputable person will reply…

[container]

  • Yes, and it will include this and this. You could get it for less $, take away this or do it this way. For more $ consider adding this or doing it this way and getting this benefit.
  • No, because of this. Consider this instead.
  • No, but maybe you could try doing this or asking these folks.

[/container]

If your assumption list isn’t like the one above. I’m sure it isn’t, nobody has their stuff together that well.

[/text_output][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]You may have to have to trust your agency even more because their quote will include research. The research will actually determine what the solution will be and how much it will finally cost. Sorry. Stay away from too much custom programming if you can.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Make sure your web development team understands what the business objective is for the project. This helps corral the deliverables because they may have to be quoted in general terms at the start of a project.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Be realistic. You’re not going to get a website that does everything Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, IBM, Walmart websites do for $40K. Those websites cost $40K a week just to keep them running.[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]You may have to have to trust your agency even more because their quote will include research. The research will actually determine what the solution will be and how much it will finally cost. Sorry. Stay away from too much custom programming if you can.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Make sure your web development team understands what the business objective is for the project. This helps corral the deliverables because they may have to be quoted in general terms at the start of a project.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle-o”]Be realistic. You’re not going to get a website that does everything Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, IBM, Walmart websites do for $40K. Those websites cost $40K a week just to keep them running.[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][accordion][accordion_item title=”Photo Credits”]

Artwork by nocturnalMoTH

Let’s commission this artist on your next project.

I got the sleazy car salesman from this website. Not sure of licensing.

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Your Brand & Your Identity Aren’t Yours

Your Brand & Your Identity Aren’t Yours

[vc_row padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none” class=”mtn”][vc_column width=”1/1″][text_output]Don’t be afraid to admit that at the end of the day you want money and your customer wants what you have. Because at the end of the day you want to enjoy your life (money helps) and so does your customer (your product makes life better for your customers too, right?). Of course I understand and will help you nurture and position your brand. But it’s not what you think your brand is, it’s what the rest of the world thinks of your brand that truly defines it. We can only hope we’ve convinced them.

Where does that leave your precious brand and the lovely identity you carefully positioned? UHM, possibly in the way. So when you actually do get a potential customer “on the hook” give them what they want, not what you want them to have.

I’m a man of metaphors so here we go. Whatever your business or service is it can be related to a department store. The folks are heading in the door and down the aisles to get what they want. What’s our job? Our job is to manage the process of getting the customer to the product, to the register and out the door. That’s what we want, that’s what they want.

As customers move through the store or are in the parking lot deciding if they should come in to our store or the one next to us let’s not jump in front of them and ask them to think too much about something other than what they want. We give them just enough.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding_top=”10px” padding_bottom=”10px” border=”top” style=”border-left: 10px solid #AFD65C;”][vc_column width=”1/1″ fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px”][container][text_output]

Customers Are Checking You Out

Are your brand and identity doing their job?

[/text_output][/container][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][custom_headline type=”left” level=”h1″ looks_like=”h3″]An Identity Shouldn’t:[/custom_headline][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”ban”]Be open to interpretation[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ban”]need too much brain power to interpret and recognize[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][custom_headline type=”left” level=”h1″ looks_like=”h3″]An Identity Should:[/custom_headline][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”ban”]be easy in every way[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ban”]appear recognizable[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ban”]be a “mental passthrough”[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”ban”]slide off the tongue eloquently and therefore possibly become a real brand someday[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][custom_headline type=”left” level=”h1″ looks_like=”h3″]Components of an Identity:[/custom_headline][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Icon: Maybe. Ask why? Generally NO.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Typography: Can’t live without it. Make it easy to read/interpret.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Color: Sure.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Name: Of course. We must have a very good reason to name a product/service anything other than a surname or what the product actually is. Yes, if you can name your product “Food Processor” because that’s what you’re selling – awesome[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row padding_top=”10px” padding_bottom=”10px” border=”top” style=”border-left: 10px solid #AFD65C;” class=”mtl”][vc_column width=”1/1″ fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px”][container][text_output]

Hey Kid, What’s Your Name?

Your identity, even your company name should be what your customer wants it to be. Not you, not me.

[/text_output][/container][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][custom_headline type=”left” level=”h1″ looks_like=”h3″]Example Company Names:[/custom_headline][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Product Name: International Business Machines (IBM)[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Surname: Dyson (Chicken or vacuum’s, which came to your mind first? Isn’t this fun?)[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Color: Sure.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]Name: Of course. We must have a very good reason to name a product/service anything other than a surname or what the product actually is. Yes, if you can name your product “Food Processor” because that’s what you’re selling – awesome[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][custom_headline type=”left” level=”h1″ looks_like=”h3″]Product/Surname Company Name Mixes:[/custom_headline][icon_list][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]WalMart: These guys are doing it all with name only. And a bazillion bucks. Sure they have typography that is consistent but the color doesn’t matter to you and me. They also have an asterisk as their icon. Although this is simple and that’s good, you and I don’t need it, and wouldn’t recognize it as WalMart on its own. It’s just dangling at this point in time because some creative group believes they need one I’ll bet a nickel.[/icon_list_item][icon_list_item type=”check-circle”]ScotTrade: nice job.[/icon_list_item][/icon_list][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”10px” padding_bottom=”10px” border=”top” style=”border-left: 10px solid #AFD65C;” class=”mtl”][vc_column width=”1/1″ fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px”][container][text_output]

Case Study: Federal Express

Federal Express changed their name to FedEx because its what the customer called them. That was a gift from customers and FedEx accepted it graciously.

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Post Script

As you can see, brand and identity still belong to you but just like with children, you are the shepherd. I just wanted you to read my post so I startled you with a headline silly. Then I made you mad at me by telling you your identity has no value to get you emotionally involved.[/text_output][/container][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”ups-sidebar-keywords-for-hire”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Content Management Systems Don’t Work

Content Management Systems Don’t Work

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][text_output]FIRST what is a Content Management System? It’s a fancy set of words that, on the internet, means you don’t need to know too much technical stuff to build web pages.

I pulled it down from the web in 2004 and decided it’s still good stuff. It’ll set you straight…

[highlight color=”black”]I highlighted my favorite points…[/highlight]

So many of the companies I’ve spoken to lately have complained about the content on their Web sites. They say it’s woefully out of date, growing out of control, and generally a complete mess. Almost unanimously, these companies have chosen to solve the problem by handing it to their IT departments.

“Find a way to manage content,” they demand, “and don’t break the bank doing it!” Companies swallow the enterprise software pitch of decentralization. They think that by distributing content creation they’re empowering business units to manage their own areas of the site. They do this hoping that the units can satisfy audience needs without requesting IT help for every little site change.

The CMS Myth

The idea is enticing. Empowered departments of a big enterprise, all publishing content directly to their customers through standard templates. The site continues to grow, but in a controlled way. And these business units have complete control of what is and isn’t online.

Sounds good, but just try putting it into practice. In a report published last year, Jupiter Research uncovered some startling findings. “Of just under 100 companies … only 27 percent of companies surveyed planned to continue using their Web content management systems as they do now.”

So why do these CMS projects almost always fail?

People Problems

I’ve spoken to a number of Web teams that have used a CMS with varying levels of success. One problem I heard repeatedly was that the project worked fine, but [highlight color=”black”]nobody used the software once it was available.[/highlight] I call this the Stupid User Argument, and it’s a favorite of IT departments. The techies did their jobs, after all: They diligently gathered requirements, scoped out the solution, carefully selected a vendor, and managed the project to a mostly on-time and on-budget conclusion.

So how come nobody actually uses these systems once they’re in place? The answer is easy: [highlight color=”black”]People don’t like to change[/highlight] the way they work, particularly knowledge workers.

Knowledge workers spend years building strategies to accomplish their jobs, practices that likely date back to study skills acquired during their education. So changing those processes — no matter how valid the provided technical solution — is nearly impossible. [highlight color=”black”]Users will rebel, even after substantial training.[/highlight]

To have any chance of success, a content management project must follow the same user-centered design practices as any other project. Task analysis, rapid prototyping, usability testing — all of these methods are crucial to a CMS rollout. It’s foolhardy to unveil a mammoth, nine-month project to an unsuspecting user community and expect adoption.

But there is a larger issue at play. Even the most thoughtful projects may be misguided. Over and over I’ve heard the same complaint about these projects, “Turns out, after all the budget and time we spent, we really didn’t need a content management system at all. [highlight color=”black”]We just needed some editors.[/highlight]”

Editorial Process

[highlight color=”black”]Content management is not a technology problem. If you’re having trouble managing the content on your Web site, it’s because you have an editorial process problem. Your public-facing Web site is a publication. Treat it like one.[/highlight]

Folks I’ve been practicing this process since 2004.

If you’re not in the business of producing publications, you won’t be able to do better by plugging in a technology and crossing your fingers. Rather, solve the problem with people. Here’s why:

All publications require editorial expertise. Few companies are publishing companies; most provide other kinds of goods and services. Yet over the last few years, every company has found that it must build and maintain what is essentially a constantly updated publication: a corporate web site. Publishing is a skill set that most organizations have never needed, but one that’s integral to producing a quality site.

To succeed, you must separate content and process from software. Serving a web site is a technology issue, so IT should manage it, right? Wrong. Would you let the printing press operator be involved in your editorial process? Of course not.

Put editors in charge. You need an editorial staff in place to make the content on your site as interesting and consistent as it can be. That staff may just be one executive editor, but nothing should go online without that person’s approval. As your web strategy grows, so too should that staff.

How It Works

Of course things have changed. Today we have to cram all these roles and tasks through much smaller teams and budgets.

Set up a process something like this: An editor manages all content on the site. Give that editor a staff of writers to send out into your business units. These writers act like reporters in the field, working on stories that they submit to a copy desk.

The stories are then compared against editorial and corporate style guides, producing consistent, professional content. That content goes to your legal and marketing departments for approval if necessary. Only then does it go online.

Once you have a proven and smooth editorial process in place, and have a strong team managing that content, you can start to think about making them more efficient with technology. Outline your process, sit down with CMS vendors and say, “Look, here are the steps that we have in place to create and maintain our content. Here are the tools we use to do our jobs. None of this is going to change. Can you help us be more efficient and effective?”

Here I  will NOT concur. No sir. I’ve always suggested software be completely disposable, even in corporate environments. More WordPress and Concrete5 anybody?

You’re running the conversation, not them. Ignore their pitches for fantastic new features; those are just frosting. You need to get things done, and they need to prove their expensive software can do it.

Right. That’s what I’m saying. Wrong! Not expensive software if you can help it.

But the points Jeff makes about making sure things get done and things CAN get done by paying attention to the publishing process.

A Sound Strategy

This is more than just a way to manage content, it’s the beginning of a content strategy — a plan for how your site will respond to your customers, inform them, and help them make decisions that will ultimately increase their loyalty to you and your site.

And frankly, I could not care less what system you use to publish.

I pulled this article out of my archive and couldn’t believe how good it still is. It was written by Jeffrey Veen((Why Content Management Fails)), April  1, 2004. YA! April fools no less.

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