You Wouldn't Cheap Out on Your Office, So Don't Do It on Your Website

Many Marketers Still Undervalue This Valuable Real Estate

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Jennifer Modarelli
Jennifer Modarelli
Our agency's area of expertise is digital, and since 1994 we have built hundreds of websites. Although some of those websites have been redesigned or sold, I am not aware of any of them "losing their value" to the businesses they serve (with the very real exception of Enron Broadband Services. Yes, we did that site.).

Because I am a former CPA, I admit to learning the agency business through the slight tinge of a green eye shade. And while I know that a background in financials doesn't necessarily make me an expert in website and marketing investments, it does frame my interpretation of our industry and in particular, the pricing models. So my beef is: Why in the heck do so many medium-to-large businesses still think they should be cheap to build a website?

Your website is ostensibly your biggest office or storefront. Think real estate: Would you cheap out building your headquarters, manufacturing plant, distribution center, customer service center, or store? And yet, a website can be all of these. This piece of property is available to customers and prospects all over the globe 24/7.

It is nothing short of shocking that businesses are not allocating adequate funding to properly build their sites. Many times, we find businesses budgeting a fraction of what they should invest. I have actually met with billion-dollar companies with 10-plus-year-old sites that want to do a redesign, but do not want to invest more than $75,000 to $100,000 ("Oh, and could that include our mobile and social strategies too?").

Where did they get a number like that? I am pretty sure almost every other one of their business locations cost considerably more to build than that. Not to mention they most assuredly hired experts to build them to last long and to facilitate their long-term growth and acquisition plans.

As digital media continue to evolve, allowing information to be shared across more and more channels, it is more important than ever that your site meet the needs of your users. Your site's content, usability, and technologies are the foundation for how well you'll be able to expand into cross-channel media such as mobile, social, and even tablets, and extend your reach globally.

My theory is that C-suites in these businesses still think of the website as a simple marketing asset, like a piece of collateral, rather than as a true location where a company can do business. That needs to change.

And here's where an agency comes in. Digital agencies have the know-how to take a legacy site and make it into a fully functioning sales channel. Your marketing and IT departments are busy with their day jobs, and they need help to make sure that what the site says and does aligns with what your customers want. They also need assurances that your new site can integrate and share information into your legacy applications like CRM or ERP. So right-size your investments and hire experts. And good news to the CFO suite: A proper investment in a new site is a capital expenditure! But of course you need to work with your licensed CPA to determine what amount.

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