Two-Step Advertising? It Makes Sense…

Basically, It’s A New Way to Advertise.

What if, instead of advertising with the hope of making your phone ring off the hook and breaking sales records immediately, you take a different approach!

What if you try something Duct Tape Marketing calls the “2-Step Approach to Advertising”?

What if, instead of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on print ads trying to find that needle in a haystack – that rare person who is ready to buy what you are offering the second they see your ad – you find potential prospects and get their permission to market to them on a more consistent basis and with more targeted offers while spending less money?

Here’s How 2-Step Advertising Works:

Create an ad offering a free report: “5 Easy Things You Can do to Keep Your Tile and Grout Clean”. Or better yet, “How to Remove Tile and Grout Stains Yourself”. OK, I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking this is crazy and it’s going to cost you business –right? Well, you’re wrong. It won’t cost you business; in fact this approach will accomplish three things. It will:

  1. Get people to your website where they can learn more about you.
  2. Attract people who actually own tile and who will give you permission to market to them on a regular basis.
  3. Prove that you care more about helping people than making a sale (prospects love that).

The goal of marketing is to get people who have a need to KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST you so when they are ready to buy, they buy from you. Offering helpful and useful information helps build your KNOW, LIKE and TRUST factors and yes, increases sales.

The goal of 2-Step Advertising is to get prospects to your site and get their permission to engage them by collecting their email addresses. Once you have their permission you can email surveys, newsletters, tips and offers geared specifically to their needs on a monthly or bi-monthly basis for about a penny an email.

Think about how powerful that is: You get to communicate with a prospect who has given you permission to market to them for one tiny penny! That’s HUGE!

InSilico Media Group has implemented 2-Step Marketing into several of our client’s brands.  Need more information?  Contact us today!

Your Designer Should Disclose the Terms and Conditions for DIY Websites

Frequently, we post that businesses should not “DIY it”… and for the most part, everyone listens.  Unfortunately, there’s always a nay-sayer that thinks a DIY website is the correct choice for them, and that is okay.  We’re fine with that.  However, we do encourage that you read the Terms & Conditions carefully before deciding on a platform.

Also – if you decide to use a “website designer” (we use that term loosely) that plans to design your website on one of these drag-and-drop website platforms, please ensure that you receive a copy of your “designer’s” contract, as well as the contract for the DIY platform they plan to use.  Not only is this professional protection for your brand’s intellectual property, but this is protection for your long-term business success.  If your “designer” is offended by this request, please take note of that.

For the sake of discussion, InSilico Media Group’s marketing team looked through the terms and conditions of Wix, Weebly, Website Builder, and SquareSpace today.  We will note that Wix and Website Builder had their Terms and Conditions readily available on the footers of their home page, whereas Weebly and SquareSpace had theirs hidden until you are ready to “sign up” after selecting a theme.

Liability:

Under the Wix T&C, you will be held responsible for anyone who signs in under your account, for their actions. Thus, whether you authorize something or not, if the website violates anything that represents your business – Wix is not responsible in helping you recover from damages. Likewise, if you hire a designer that violates their T&C, Wix is not responsible either, and can remove your website from their platform.  “But I trust my designer,” you may say.  Well, good, you’re paying them, so you should trust them.  However, if a designer becomes disgruntled – that’s not a Wix problem.  Likewise, if a designer tries to manipulate a theme with custom code, (which is another violation of the Wix agreement, by the way) Wix can remove your website.

01

Interesting.

Privacy:

Surprisingly, the only DIY website platform that mentioned HIPAA was Website Builder.  It would be interesting to see if the other three platforms offer HIPAA compliance, or if they did not address it because they feel this isn’t a basic concern.

Nonetheless, Website Builder does not comply with the HIPAA compliance standards.

02

Thus, if your business requires HIPAA compliance (or, if you think it may but you’re not sure), please do your due diligence to verify that the platform your “DIY Designer” is using can verify they are HIPAA compliant.

Customization:

Under the Wix T&C, they own everything associated with your website template.  If you don’t think this is important, consider your long-term options if your “designer” determines they’re changing their business model in any way, or if they pass away (God forbid), etc.  What happens to your website?  Well, as we’ll touch on in a few minutes, the ownership of your site may fall in some messy ‘grey area’ anyway – but what you can truly worry about is what happens to the theme of your website.  When you buy a WordPress theme, you can transfer hosting companies without a problem.  You own your theme, and all of the “gadgets” involved with it.  You can manipulate it, you can transfer it, you can customize it, and you can keep it.  With Wix, you’re stuck on their platform if you want to keep that theme – at least until you find a designer that can re-create the theme.  What’s more interesting, if Wix decides to remove the theme for whatever reason, your website is now essentially theme-less.

03

Interesting.

Weebly’s customization T&C states that you do not have permission to reproduce, transfer, reverse assemble, or edit the source code to your theme in any way.  Thus, if you want your website to be a little different than the theme you’ve chosen, tough crackers – you’re stuck.

04

Ownership:

Wix considers the owner of the account as the person who enters the billing details.  Thus, if your “designer” determines that they are going to enter their information into the form because they are going to be the one who pays the monthly fees (after billing you and marking up this service, obvi), Wix will consider your “designer” the owner of your website.  Should there be a conflict, Wix will determine the owner of the website based upon the documentation given to them. Thus, check their T&C and your “designer’s” T&C before signing up for a website that you may not own afterall.

05

Squarespace’s ownership policy is pretty much the same as Wix’s policy, only they add that they reserve the right to temporarily suspend the website until the parties reach a resolution.  Therefore, if there happens to be a problem with your website, not only will your business be interrupted with conflict resolution of ownership offline, but also online as well. Risky.

06

Weebly has a separate T&C for designers, that states that you, as the ‘owner’ of the website, will not receive help from Weebly should you require assistance. Weebly will therefore refer you back to your designer.  Thus, if you have a problem with your website and your designer is not assisting you for whatever reason (they’re on vacation, they’re disgruntled, they’re too busy, or you fired them) … you’re pretty much stuck.

07

 Property:

The Squarespace T&C clearly states that, while you do own the property you upload onto their platform, you give them the right to save it and display it.  If you do not “opt out” or do not know how to “opt out” – this could mean that your intellectual property is then distributed on a platform and used at Squarespace’s discretion – without assuring you are okay with the use of it.

08

The T&C of Wix is essentially the same – only they specify that you grant them a worldwide, non-exclusive royalty-free license to use, manipulate, reproduce, modify, covert, etc. your images and videos.

 09

Prices:

Both the Wix and WebsiteBuilder T&C states that they reserve the right to change prices or any other charges at any time.  Also, if your web “designer” signed you up using a discount or promo code, please note that your promo code will not renew or be honored should their prices change. Ask your “designer” how they are factoring in a price change for your long-term contract.

10

11

Cancellation:

According to the Weebly T&C, after you cancel your service, you will not have access to your website and your information may be deleted from your site.  What happens if the credit card your “designer” used to set up monthly billing declines?  There is a lot of grey area regarding what they view as a cancellation.  How long will they give you to fix the billing? Will they immediately remove the site if the “designer”’s card declines?  In a world where banks cancel cards that end up on “potentially compromised” lists, this could pose a problem for your business.

12 13

Similarly, the T&C from Wix states nearly the same policy, including the fact that they are not responsible for a data loss, nor are they responsible for saving a backup of your account.

14

InSilico Media Group provides a copy of our contract at the time of the proposal presentation.  We believe firmly in our prospective client’s ability to understand exactly what they are getting themselves into.  Afterall, transparency is a good, ethical business practice.

If you don’t opt to contract with InSilico Media Group, that’s fine.  Sometimes the synergy is not right – we understand.  What we hope happens for you is that you find a designer (or “designer”) you feel comfortable with, that is transparent and ethical, and will ensure you are given all of the terms and conditions of not only their business, but the platform of which they are using.

If your “designer” will not provide the T&C for the platform on which they will design on, don’t go prospecting these T&Cs on your own.  If you have to do that much work for yourself on behalf of your “designer” – ask yourself why your designer is not readily supplying these with their own service contracts.

If you have any questions, InSilico Media Group is happy to provide an outside evaluation and an external opinion.  We are happy to refer to other agencies as well, so that you can properly interview multiple developers before deciding on the ideal candidate for your job.

Posted in Web

10 Questions to Ask Your Next Web Developer

Selecting the right web design company for your business can be challenging. We know how it works – you put out an SOS on Facebook, and everyone tags their friends. Some are legit agency owners, and some are freelancers. Some have proven skills, some have questionable skills, and some … well, they’re well connected.

InSilico Media Group suggests you interview your web design company choices as you would an employee. We imagine smart business owners understand it’s not always the best idea to go with the most “liked” mutual friend, and it doesn’t always benefit you to hire the most accomplished company. You also don’t want to hire someone’s third cousin twice removed living in their mom’s basement. Afterall, you’re paying them to do a service for your business, and trusting that they will help your business grow. Only – you’re not paying their insurance…

So, in no particular order, here’s a good list of questions, and sub-questions, to ask a potential web design contractor:

1. What is the full extent of your capabilities?

Like we discussed in a previous blog, if your website “developer” is using a drag-and-drop platform like Squarespace, do your due diligence and ask a few follow-up questions… are you going to be stuck in an impossible contract on Squarespace like you would if you built your own drag-and-drop website on the platform? Will you be able to increase your pages, content, photos, or inventory without increasing your month-to-month costs? What if something happens with an add-on – will the company know how to fix it using custom code? Is there even a way to fix it with custom code? Is this platform built to help SEO? Can they PROVE that to be true?

2. Do you have any experience in my industry and with similar websites?

Depending on your design ideas, this may not be important. However, if you’re hiring a firm that focuses more on technical websites and you need a graphic-heavy website, this could become a problem quickly. What’s worse, if you opt to go with a firm that uses a standard template (such as going through YellowPages, or using a Squarespace or Weebly option with limited template resources), you could end up having a website that is exactly the same as all of your competitors in the local area. Looking for a partner with a multitude of experience across a variety of industries shows a variety of experience that can benefit you. Also, if you want exclusivity in your industry, this may prove beneficial to you as well.

3. How can you help me drive website traffic and generate leads? – or – How will you optimize my website for search engines?

If your “web designer” is a graphic designer-turned-web-designer-thanks-to-drag-and-drop-programs … stop right there. Graphic design and web design are two very different fields of study and we have yet to find a graphic designer that fully understands creating images optimized for websites. (which makes pages load slower, and the slower a page loads, the angrier it makes Google, and if you make Google angry, you’re not getting ranked. Period.) Standalone web developers are great to work on projects, but we suggest looking for a web developer that’s part of an advertising agency, or at least can show they have a game plan or check list readily available to build your website to current SEO standards. (At InSilico, we have a checklist. Just saying…)

Also – Google what the latest SEO phase is, and ask your web developer if they know. If they say Penguin or Panda… run.

4. Do you practice responsive web design to ensure a consistent and usable experience on all devices?

Responsive web design is the Google-recommended (and industry-recommended) best practice for building a website that is not just mobile friendly, but “friendly” and optimized to create a consistent and ideal user experience for all devices. Understanding how each firm approaches responsive design throughout the entire process will be insightful and perhaps eye-opening.

5. Will my website be fully customized, or a “customized” theme?

There are a lot of websites out there masquerading as custom websites but they’re merely pre-built themes that have been customized for a particular client. Budget limitations may require using such themes; however, if you are paying for and expecting to receive a custom “stick-built” website, it’s critical that you ask this question. A custom website means that every pixel of design and layout has been performed by the firm and the website has been “hand coded” by a qualified developer.

6. What content management system(s) do you recommend and why? Can you show us a demonstration?

Most web development companies have their personal preferences for particular content management systems (CMS). But it’s beneficial to understand why a web design firm recommends a particular CMS platform and what the pros and cons are of that platform. Be sure that the strengths of the platform you choose align with the needs and functionality requirements of your website.

Many clients assume that a CMS website will function the same on the back end, regardless of who you partner with to develop the website. However, the back-end design of the CMS interface and the administrative functionality often varies greatly. So it’s helpful to request a website demonstration to better understand how customized and intuitive the CMS of their websites are. After all, your company will be using this feature the most, so it’s imperative that it is easy to use for your team.

7. What is your testing and quality control checkpoints before launching a website?

Testing is a critical process that should be completed prior to launching your new website. It’s absolutely essential for your website to render smoothly on various browsers and devices, so your web design partner should conduct cross-browser testing on the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, as well as cross-platform testing on the latest versions of iOS and Android for tablets and smartphones. It’s also important that your partner follows a checklist of internal quality assurance measures to ensure that all bases are covered before launch.

8. How long will the project (realistically) take? – or – What is your web design and development process?

The length of a website project varies greatly depending on scope, complexity, schedule and both the client and web design partner’s ability to hit deadlines. Based on an understanding of your project needs, a potential web partner should be able to give you an estimate of how long a project like yours typically takes and provide a basic schedule for key project milestones. They should also help you understand what factors can affect the schedule and where issues typically arise.

By asking what their process is, you see there’s a plan in place and it’s more than just dragging-and-dropping. You want a web developer that does their due diligence, creates something unique to your brand, and is excited to share their process and timeline with you. Because, when you appreciate their timeline, you allow them to continue their cycle of projects, ensuring they know they’re going to be able to take on another client in a timely manner. After all, it’s all about continually making money, right?

9. What is included in your price?

Every company prices websites differently, so understanding what the pricing includes AND doesn’t include is vital. At the end of the day, you want to understand what you’re getting for your money, what additional costs may come up along the way that are accounted for in the proposal and how they’ll handle estimating and billing for things that fall outside of the scope. When it comes to billing, no one likes surprises, so be sure to gain a clear understand of the pricing before signing a contract.

If you are going to use a web designer that is going to put you on Squarespace or Weebly (or Wix, or Web, or WebsiteBuilder) … make sure to receive a copy of that contract as well before they sign you up, and before you sign on with them.

10. Can you provide client references?

Any Joe Schmuck can suggest a website designer when you put out your social media SOS. Take a minute to look at who is referring their friends. Do they have a website? How does it look? Do they currently work with this person? Do they even own a business?

It’s always a good idea to talk with a potential partner’s previous website redesign clients to get a better understanding of the company. What was it like to work with them? How did the final product turn out? How successful has the website been? What (if any) pitfalls should you be aware of? Speaking directly with previous clients is a great way to round out your due diligence and gain a more complete picture of your potential redesign partner.

 

Not sure about who your options are?  InSilico Media Group believes in transparency.  We’re happy to let you know who our competitors are, and get you connected with other options.  We believe that a well-informed client is the best client.  We don’t believe in sales presentations, and only follow-up a few times before moving on.  If we have to convince you that you want to do business with us, we’ll spend our entire relationship convincing you, instead of building trust with you.

Why Advertising Doesn’t Work for (Most) Small Businesses

Pick up a newspaper, magazine or advertising circular and look at the ads. What do you see? A whole bunch of the same thing: a list of services; a company name; a tagline; a pretty graphic; and maybe an offer.

Think of advertising in one of two ways:

1) Put your company name in front of enough people enough times so they’ll remember you when it’s time to buy

…. or…

2) Put an “amazing” offer out there and people will be compelled to respond (whether they’ve made the decision to buy or not).

 

The first scenario is called “top of mind” advertising and unless you have a multi-million dollar marketing budget it’s very difficult to buy top of mind brand awareness. In the second example advertising sales people want their advertisers to see results (because results sell more advertising), so they recommend you put an offer in your ad: Get 10% off service, $5.00 of a product, buy one get one free, etc. And sure, that works – sometimes.

Old School Advertising Doesn’t Work!

And what’s the traditional reaction when advertising doesn’t work? Ask any advertising rep and they’ll tell you – you need to advertise MORE (i.e.: spend MORE money), so that when your prospect is ready to buy they will see or remember your ad and call you. But how much are you willing to spend to make a sale?

So let’s say you spend $175/month on the ad and it takes me 6 months to decide I need to clean my tile. Let’s say I happen to choose you because I remembered seeing your ad in the magazine for the past six months and because your offer is better than the other guy who is doing it for $100. You’ve just paid $1050 to get my $75 sale. Sure, you may up-sell me, I may become a regular customer and my life time value may be in the thousands – but those are big “ifs”.

Think about that: you are spending hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars hoping to reach a prospect at exactly the right time in their buying process. Doesn’t that seem like a pretty large gamble to you? No wonder businesses think advertising doesn’t work!

Your New Advertising Strategy

How many more responses do you think you can get when you stop selling in your advertising and start offering helpful information? People hate to be sold. And that’s what traditional advertising is all about.

What if you can get 10 new people on your email list from each ad?

What if 1 of those people eventually buys from you at full price – or close to it?

What is the cost of that one customer compared to the one you got by practicing traditional advertising?

I guarantee that if you implement this approach as part of your marketing strategy you will get results and begin to see your business grow.

At InSilico, our mission is to help small businesses stop wasting money on advertising and promotions that don’t deliver and help them implement an effective marketing system that will bring you more customers – consistently.

Real Developers Don’t Use Drag-and-Drop Programs

John Maeda: “If You Want to Survive in Design, You Better Learn to Code”
“Designers who can code and write have always been attractive to tech companies. I think that’s why we work with so many Technology firms as our clients. We don’t strictly design. For example, when we build a web site, we look at how the design, the writing and the development all work together for a better user experience.”

There’s a trend of “designers” that are sweeping the Mid-Ohio Valley region, building websites for next to nothing for clients, and leaving everyone thinking they’re getting a great deal. They’re breezing through a “build” of a website, taking only a few weeks, and leaving business owners wondering why traditional web development agencies cost so much and take so long. The answer is simple – web development agencies don’t use drag-and-drop website builders.

How do I know I am getting a drag-and-drop website?
So, how do you know if you’re getting a website made on a DIY platform, or a website that’s customized for your brand? It’s easy.

  1. Right click on the website
  2. Select “view page source”
  3. You’ll see “this is Squarespace” or “Wix” or “Weebly” branded into the code.
    How to determine whether a website is built on Squarespace or not
    It’s that simple.

So who uses Squarespace to create a website?

Squarespace is designed for the “Everyman” – it is designed for someone who is not tech saavy, who just wants to have a web presence.

Well, what’s the problem with a drag-and-drop DIY website?

Well, if you’ve missed all of our other blogs about DIY websites, we suggest you read them (For example, 19 Reasons To Not Do It Yourself).

Another problem is that you’re paying someone to do something very basic that you could do yourself on a weekend or even in an evening.

Companies like InSilico Media Group either custom-code our websites (such as: InSilico Media Group, GW Industrial, Bruce Allen) or we utilize WordPress to provide a back end for clients to update themselves (such as: Business & Management Solutions, Law Heating and Cooling, Shoalin Martial Arts Training Center).

But wait – I buy a theme on WordPress just like Squarespace.

While you absolutely do buy a “theme” on WordPress, it is an open source platform, meaning their codes are open to everyone to use and customize. This means developers/programmers can use WordPress to create their own tools to share for free, or to sell for users.

Right now, about 25% of all websites on the internet today are powered by WordPress. That’s about 75,000,000 websites. There are over 50,000 WordPress plugins, which have been downloaded over 2 billion times.

Squarespace is not an open source builder, which means their platform is gated off to only in-house development of plugins. Frankly speaking, that means less customization options, and if something doesn’t work for your business, you can’t adjust the website to fit your business, you adjust your business to fit your website.

So, I can’t customize my site as much on Squarespace?

Absolutely! We’ve had a client before that didn’t want to pay more than $300 per month, so she was restricted to a certain inventory level online. That meant each month, she had to pick which items to leave off the website, and which to sell.

While the initial cost of a website may be a little hard to digest – when you think about the ability to sell an unlimited amount of products from your website without incurring more costs, in the long run, hiring a professional development company like InSilico Media Group is the smarter decision.

Squarespace is a “what you see is what you get” builder. You drag and drop photos where they tell you to put them. There’s very little thought behind the user experience on Squarespace. Each genre of business has a distinct user experience – a science of putting elements in the exact location your viewers anticipate they will be.

But isn’t Squarespace secure?

No more than WordPress. WordPress themes are constantly evolving with technology. While it is true that theme plugins need to be constantly updated – any good website developer or business owner will be updating their website frequently anyway for SEO efforts.

The reason websites are hacked is because of improper plugin updates and overall maintenance by the webmasters.

Squarespace does push updates to your website automatically. This is good for business owners that don’t want to dedicate a lot of time to their websites. Unfortunately, this lack of maintenance to your website won’t help your SEO efforts.

Who owns my website?

Developers like InSilico Media Group don’t want ownership of your files. Our customers own everything on their site. However, if you file a Notice of termination of Services by Squarespace, you need to understand that they have the right to delete all data, files, or other information that is stored in your account.

What if there’s an error on my site?

If there is a error for some reason, they make no promises to fix it, or that if they do fix it, that said fix will be adequate or acceptable. They don’t guarantee any sort of uptime, or any sort of compensation for their services being down, or causing you any sort of loss of profit. If their service goes down and you’re unable to access/use your site, your only option is to… stop using the site.

If you’re hiring a “website company” who uses Squarespace – you’re essentially acknowledging that this company has zero clue about custom coding a website, meaning if there is an error for any reason (including design or functionality), they can’t manually work around it and fix it.

We’ll let that sink in.

What about communication from the host?

If all of the previously stated isn’t enough, Squarespace, Wix and Weebly also don’t guarantee that any emails sent through their service will make it to you.

Wait, what?

If you’re running a business on a DIY website, and you have a form where your clients can get ahold of you, book a project, request a meeting, etc – they make NO guarantees that you will get those emails. And since you don’t have actual access to your “hosting” you can’t even check your /maildir to see if there are any sitting in there that got lost in process.

Yet, these “website companies” think this is a good thing for your business.

… are you starting to understand this more?

Over all, website developers who use Squarespace aren’t website developers. You’re paying for an easy ‘do-it-yourself’ all-in-one solution, that you’re not doing yourself… rather than paying a company that specializes in specific areas of technology meant to keep your site afloat, with the ability to utilize custom coding for added customization, functionality, security, and growth of your brand. “Developers” who use Squarespace don’t seem to understand that Squarespace is not a hosting company and what they specialize in is not the same as what a host would specialize in. They have their feet dipped into all areas of the pool, rather than just focusing on one specific thing.

Some will argue that blogs like this are only attempts to try to degrade their work by claiming that “real web designers don’t use X”, and that the real point of their service is to provide the clients with what they need. “How I deliver that service shouldn’t matter,” they will say.

Here’s a question… with all of the shortcomings that Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly have – how is that arguement even relevant? They’re not giving their clients what they need by creating an easy drag-and-drop website. They’re giving their cleints a smoke-and-mirrors product that has limited customization and functionality and taking what they need – their client’s money – while playing the Wizard behind the curtain.

When you’re ready to hire a real company to handle your website, InSilico Media Group is happy to provide you a list of our competitors that can offer quality websites, as well as a customized quote. Compare us to the competition. Do your homework. Review the functionality of our websites (we’ve got about 50 in our portfolio over the last 18 months). Do your homework. This is your business on the line. Don’t trust it to someone who isn’t going to take it seriously.

Posted in Web