Lately, we have been inundated with new enquiries for Websites of all descriptions. It seems the marketing being conducted by many a service provider, including hosting companies, domain name registrars, ecommerce providers and Content Management System (CMS) developers is getting through. The message is loud and clear, you can have a Website, it’s quick, easy, cheap and amazing. Business magazines also are recommending that every business embrace the Web as a sales and marketing medium, embrace social media as a communications and customer acquisition channel, view smart phones as the next great gold rush as customers now hold you in their hands 24/7 and view the Internet as this vast resource where unlimited riches await the entrepreneurial and creative business mind.
It is true; the Web is certainly expanding and evolving at an incredible rate. Overnight success stories are now an almost daily feature of on- and off-line news sources. The subjects of each story seem to be getting younger and younger, with kids building apps seemingly in minutes that go viral and fill their bank accounts with cash.
It is easy to see how everyone is becoming entranced. Quick, easy, cheap ways to get rich have always been extremely appealing, especially when times are generally quite tough, as they are now. Even in a nice, rich and safe country like Australia, the cost of living is very high, with some prices like electricity and insurance skyrocketing, cash flow seems very tight for many small businesses and families and competition is getting stronger and stronger in the globalised world, as international businesses promise to deliver products and services far cheaper than local businesses can ever hope to.
Of course, the Web is now a great place to start looking and considering when contemplating ways to improve your bottom line or launch a new business, service, product or idea. However, here is the problem… everyone is thinking the same thing.
All those marketing campaigns that have been targeting you have been targeting millions of other people as well. All those opportunities to get rich quick have been offered to everyone. It is simply not possible for everyone to be as successful as everyone else. It is like a massive fun run with millions and millions of people at the starting line. The winners will inevitably be those who prepared the most.
So, prepare thyself. If you already have an idea of what you would like to do online to promote your services or sell products, it would make a lot of sense to do as much preparation as possible before you approach someone for professional assistance. Professionals can help you prepare, but it will cost you money, when you could at least have thought through and researched some of the basics. There are so many resources online these days, there really is no excuse for not having done your homework.
Quite often it seems the only preparation people do is reading the marketing material of various service providers. If people wish to sell something online, they tend to go to all the various ecommerce application providers and read their feature list to see if it will do what they want it to do. We get so many people enquiring about setting up an online shop in such-and-such a system, without having even written the first line of content, or determined their postage methods, product descriptions, customer profiles, etc. Almost always we find that the solution they have chosen is not necessarily the right one. The considerations are often technical, which the solution provider will not tell you and which you cannot be expected to know.
The role of the Web Developer or Web Consultant is to help determine the best technical solution based on your requirements. So your role is to explain your requirements. Your time will be best spent working on the details of your business. Write your content. Source great photos. Research your market and other providers with similar or identical offerings. Prepare a business plan or marketing plan or at least write a document that details all of your ideas around your business. That way, a Web Developer or Website Consultant can work with you to determine the best solution and can have a much better idea of the ballpark costs and efforts that might be involved in helping you.
The worst thing you could do is contact Web Designers and Website Developers before you have done any planning or research and tell them you want a Website and you want them to quote you a price. You will be putting yourself at their mercy and you will most likely fall victim to the service provider with the best talent at making a sale, not the one that will serve you best.
If you are to have any chance of succeeding in the extremely competitive and overcrowded online world, you must prepare yourself. The ones who succeed have done just that and the ones who struggle are almost always the ones who jumped the starting gun, ran straight to the nearest service provider and asked them to do all the work. The old adages of 'you get what you pay for' and 'you only get out what you put in' are no less true online. We can help you only so far and as far as your budget allows. The real success factor is how much you are prepared to invest yourself. After all it is your dream, not anyone else’s.