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Competition: Reasonable templates, content editors, plus goodies OR my persuasive skills?
ophelias_spiral wrote in webdesign
A potential new client/acquaintance casually contacted me inquiring about having me design a professional web site for her company....Shortly thereafter - before the sit down ironing out details discussion - she sends me an e-mail inquiring about another company who offers 50 MB hosting, 2 GB month transfer, domain name registration, web site design (generic template, mind you), a do-it-yourself content editor, 10 e-mail addresses, a professional description/write up of the company for "about us," "services," etc., AND a dial up internet connection for only.... $39.99 per month.

That's cheap.

I can recommend a good hosting company to her who only charges $4.00 per month for 500MB hosting, 25 GB data transfer, and.... like who needs 100 e-mail addresses, but it's included........BUT my regular web/graphic rates are between $25 and $40 per hour!!!

Her inquiry regarding this $39.99 a month company with a $39.99 set-up fee really seems like a better deal for a simple web site....only $480-$500 per YEAR if she wants a basic web site to start out with for her company, plus all the extra goodies.

How can I woo her away from wow of hosting, domain name, template design, do-it-yourself content editor, e-mail, content, AND an internet connection included in the cost? *scratches head* She's a good acquaintance and she's coming to me for advice, but I want her business!

What do you think of my e-mail reply to her? How does it come across???


Hi Mrs. Kenny,

I've never heard of "so-and-so company" but I am am familiar with the type of web site editor program they offer (a design firm I do contract work for also provides the same service). "Unlimited updates with our easy-to-use online Website editor" - which means, the web site design is a generic template (some other company can also use the same design/layout/look - the web site design is not unique to your business/company identity) and is powered by a semi-user-friendly, but very basic "back-end/behind the scenes" type of web based program so you can update the content within the web site (mind you, only basic pictures and text, not the design itself) from your own computer without needing to know complicated web design coding language.

Personally I am not a big fan of the do-it-yourself web site editors/programs - I can see how it is a neat feature, but it is very basic and limited. The do-it-yourself web editor programs seem like a good idea because the client can have control over updating the content (text) of the web site themselves whenever they want....however, based on my past experiences with previous clients and these programs, most of the clients I've set up template web sites for and trained to use the program (on behalf of the company I contract with) end up feeling stifled because:

1) perhaps they are computer novices and find the web site editor program is challenging to use
2) feel limited by the basic features and the plain, generic web site design; not having creative freedom to change things around
3) have to pay a lot extra if they decide they do want to change things (or have to pay extra for services like search engine optimization)
4) stuck in an expensive, long-term monthly contract they cannot break

I must admit though, Mrs. Kenny, $39.99 per month with a one-time set-up fee of $39.99 (in comparison to other companies I know about who offer almost the same type of full package deal but charge a $1500 start up fee plus an additional $88 per month for hosting/domain fee), "so-and-so company" does seem very reasonable at $480-$500 per year and might be a good way to start with a basic web presence......that is, if you feel comfortable with the template look of the web site design promoting your business and if you feel comfortable updating the content/text yourself.

It really depends on what you have in mind for the design/layout/content of your business web site, your goals, your audience, how often you want to update it or if you would like to update it yourself, and what your budget is.


How do I dissuade her from the cheapy company? Any suggestions? I really appreciate your thoughts, comments, ideas, and wooing effort suggestions!

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This could be a tough one. No point in trying to convince them of the custom design work over the template approach. If they're already considering the cookie cutter route your arguments will probably fall on deaf ears.

You gotta hit 'em with the money factor. Once they have a site built by you and it is live their cost is only going to be hosting. I'll presume they already have an internet connection or they wouldn't be talking to you about web-related matters. SO, if that's the case, they're already paying someone for their connection. You could even, for the sake of conversation, subtract $10.00 from Company X's monthly fee and hook them up with NetZero or something. With that said, they're still looking at $29.99 per month for the company's services (hosting, content editor, etc.), when they could pay $4.00 per month with your host. Thus, they're looking at $48 per year with you vs. $360 with Company X.

Once they pay you to design/develop their site that expense is taken care of. With Company X and their template they'll have to pay residual fees for the life of their company and its site.

Also, you could implement an open source CMS so they'd still be able to update their content themselves. That could be a big selling point for them, or maybe they won't give a damn.

To me it still makes financial sense to go with an actual designer over these template services. You get something unique and it could actually save you money in the long run.

All I can say is "be honest". Don't bad mouth the other company, or her possible skills. Keep it as short and to the point as possible; too much commentating makes it seem like you're being "high and mighty" as a web designer. Your email sounds rather negative. Try to be more positive and upbeat. Emphasise what she would get via you - personal service and direct contact, a custom designed site rather than a template that may not suit her business - rather than what may be wrong with the other offer.

Maybe slip in somewhere the main negative point - all her eggs in one basket. If this provider has a major problem, her whole presence is down - website, email, her access - for the duration. Don't labour that point too much though.

If you feel her main concern is budget rather than quality, then there's not much you can do except a gentle reminder, maybe, that "you get what you pay for."

there isn't one thing in that email that directly addresses what YOU are going to provide her. it's all about the pros and cons of so-and-so company which only helps her to weigh the options of going with so-and-so. frankly, it's pro-heavy especially with your closing statements regarding cost and having complete control of content.

well, like the other posters said, money talks.

Mention to the client that a site created with templates like this will look unprofessional and therefore not bring in as much revenue. Visitors are less likely to trust a site that looks like it was made with templates. Business people hear only one word: "money". They don't care what looks good or what's usable. they care about spending the least to make the most. The trick, then, is to show them that your way will do just that. "it will make more money in the long run."

The other thing you could do is teach by example. Ask the client to find some sites she likes, sites of businesses similar to hers, etc. Then, show her those sites compared to what you'd get with this "template system." When she sees the difference with her own eyes, and after you explain how limiting a template system is, she may change her mind.

If you know anything about Search Engine Optimization and the marketing aspects of websites, be sure to mention that as an advantage of her choosing you over the competitor. I'm assuming this is a business site meant to draw in new customers? If the competitor does not include SEO, it doesn't matter how easy they make the process. If no customers are finding the site through Google or any other means, no one is looking at the site, so the effort in building the site is wasted anyway. And put it in quantitative terms if you can (e.g how many customers you can attract vs. the competitor).

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