I was on the phone with a friend a week ago.
Chris was asking me which printer would I recommend her to buy. (Eh, do I look like a geek? As an aside, just because I’m in the online world does not make me a resource for all things IT.)
After I explained that we hardly use printers (not even the ones in our office), she asked me about websites. Specifically she’s interested in getting herself one.
I bet she was a tad surprised when I asked her in return, “Why do YOU need a website?”
For a moment, the line went quiet. She was stumped!
I bet she didn’t think I’d respond the way I did. After all, most people would jump at this chance to further explain about their services (come on, how many people get a chance to do so? Most people are too busy talking anyway). Chris probably expected me to give her our list of ‘here’s what we at Redbox Studio can do for you’.
Instead I asked her an unusual question.
Flustered her, yes. But I want to make it clear that what we do at Redbox Studio is unlike what other web design service providers do out there.
If you come to us, we’re your web consultants. We’re not your designers.
If all you crave is snazzy web design, then you are not suitable for us. If all you want is pretty design, sorry, please go elsewhere. Of course this is not to say we don’t do brilliantly at design. We do. It’s just that a website is much more than design.
If you want a website that is a marketing machine, ah, then we can help.
When we partner with you, we essentially help you to grow your business with a website. And sometimes some folks, no matter how much they can afford us, aren’t worth helping.
We didn’t discover this in the early years of running Redbox Studio. But 11 years is a long time so we wised up along the way. And now, instead of telling you what we can do for you, we always pre-qualify potential clients and see if they know the right reasons for getting a website. If they don’t have the right reasons, we won’t be interested.
So what’s a right reason?
A right reason: when potential clients say,”I want to use a website to attract more customers”. These people understand that we’re going to help them increase their business. I don’t think we have a magic wand but we’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t. After all, we only build websites for business.
It’s scary sometimes for clients to meet us because we talk about results.
And most times, I urge potential clients to talk to other firms and web designers too. I want them to see a distinct difference in what we promise them. Most times, we don’t even talk about using Flash (using Flash is a great technique is hiking up prices for web design. If you can’t justify yourself, might as well tell them that you’re using a highly-complex piece of technology to make stuff fly on their website).
We talk about marketing – the crux of any business that wants to live strong. How to use a website to edge out your competition. Make them eat dust. Make them irrelevant. Of course I say it nicely – I’m a woman but hey, my meaning is clear.
I’ll also talk about copywriting and how words are the currency on your website.
If your words are boring, which web visitor is going to hang around reading them? (And the fact that you read this far means you’re still here on the blog. And this means I’ve done something that made you want to stay on and read instead of clicking out and going to Facebook.) That’s the power of words.
If potential clients don’t get it, then too bad. Keep Flashing stuff at your customers then. That may be uber cool but that sure ain’t going to bring you pots of business/profits/money.
Another time, someone asked us to check out her website because she had a problem. She couldn’t update it because the entire website was created with Flash and she didn’t know a twit of Flash. Nice to look at but highly impractical! Business websites are all about sustainability. This website certainly wasn’t sustainable!
Why do you need a website? So honest answer please.
If you want a website because your competitors all have websites (even though they don’t know honestly what they’re supposed to do with them), that’s not good enough a reason. In that case, I honestly say, save your money. You don’t need a website.
It’s just like Facebook/Twitter. You’re there because everyone’s raving about it but you honestly have no idea what you should do there.
Start a website with the right reasons and you will soon see the results.
That I promise!