We updated this popular post from 2016 with up to date information.
I know, I know. That title makes it seem like I'm telling you that the only marketing agency you should hire are those where your budget will explode. But, that's not the case at all.
When shopping for web services (web design, web development, digital marketing, search engine optimization -- you get the idea), you might find it nearly impossible to compare providers. You'll have one provider that will build a website at $700, another at $7,000, and yet another at $17,000. You'll have an SEO provider suggest that they can get you all the business in the world for $100 per month but someone else might say that $1,000 is the minimum.
Over the years, I have thought a lot about the right way to offer web services to our clients. How should we make sure that we charge the right amount for the services that we offer?
I'll say this, it's never as simple as comparing the cost of two providers. I keep coming back to a simple thought that I had about 10 years ago about the definition of value. After all, it's really about comparing the value of the two providers.
It's actually a simple formula.
The Value Gap
Optimal value is the point where price and and benefit intersect. Whenever you get more than you pay for or you get less than you pay for, there is a value gap. As service providers, we need to understand the value gap to provide the best value for our services.
Here's a fancy little chart to illustrate what I'm talking about.
When you, as a consumer, buy any product, you are looking for some level of benefit or utility. You want that thing to do something. When you buy something that costs more, you expect a greater level of benefit.
The point of optimal value is the point where you get exactly what you pay for. Or, a more appropriate way for us to think about it is, the point of optimal value is when you get exactly what you perceive you have paid for.
As a side note, buyer's remorse sets in when you doubt that you have received the utility or benefit that you paid for.
How Much Should a Website Cost for an SMB?
So, that's the question you probably have and, unfortunately, there is no real answer.
It truly depends.
I know, I know, that answer sucks. You want a number to look at.
Do you pay <$1,000 or do you pay $5,000 or >$10,000 for a website for your small-medium business?
Most companies buy a website like most people buy a car. They want a list of features that do a certain set of things and then they want to get it for as cheap as possible. They want mobile responsive and 10 pages and a contact form and a presentation area and and and and and.
That is the wrong way to think about arguably the most important marketing investment in your company.
What Do You Want Your Website to Accomplish?
That is the right question. If all you want is an online brochure then maybe you would be good getting a website from a low-cost provider. Maybe you would be okay spending less than $1,000. You might even consider getting a free website from a provider like SquareSpace.
Maybe you want something more. Maybe you want visitors to actually do something when they get to your website. Maybe you want to maximize the leads you generate. Maybe you want to sell more things directly on line.
Start with the end state goal and then figure out how to get there.
How Does Tribute Media Price Websites?
Recently we started offering template websites, which are attractive, secure sites built on Drupal. Templates get you online fast, and you'll know exactly what you're paying and what you're paying for.
But if you want something custom, or if the template sites don't fit your needs, pricing is never as simple as a list of things. It's more important that we accomplish your goals, so we can't just say, "Well, it's going to cost $6,000 or $10,000 or $1,000,000."
We plan about 1/3 of our time just in strategy. We have an art director, a content strategist, and a marketing manager involved that are all specialized in their areas of responsibility. We have a project manager who is focused on making sure that everything fits together.
Many times we spend more budget in strategy than the low-cost providers in building the entire website.
Hopefully you can already see why it might cost a little more than a solo operator to do business with Tribute Media. But, if you want the results of a professional team that a solo operator can't provide, it's worth the extra money. If you don't need those results (which is a totally valid response for many) then there is no need to pay the extra.
It all comes down to the value gap. If you perceive the benefit, you should pay more. If you don't, then you shouldn't.
Corey Smith is the founder of Tribute Media and serves as the Digital Marketing Strategist. He is also the author of "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter."
There's no doubt you have many choices when it comes to web design and web marketing services. Your middle schooler probably knows his way around CSS and HTML and every college kid is a blogger. The problem is, a site that looks hot but doesn't have well-thought out strategy, is like a certain reality show family we can't name for legal reasons: pretty, but worthless.
The difference between a web site and a web strategy is something that the experts at Tribute Media have mastered. Put us to work and we'll create a web strategy that will help you generate leads and grow your business.