Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Much Does It Cost To Build A Website?

Q: How much does a website cost? Can I really afford it?

A: I think the question would better be asked, "Can I really afford NOT to."

With such easy access to technology and softwares, there are tons of "shade tree designers" offering websites for prices as low as $200, and a plethora of companies offering build-it-yourself templates for a nominal monthly fee, and sometimes even FREE.  With options like these, it is easy for ANY business to have a website, and every business SHOULD have a website. Here's the exception to my rule: It's actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, "Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!" or it screams, "Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!"
With that being said, it's not enough to just have "a website." You must have a professional-looking site if you really want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by a barrel of color-blind monkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.
There are numerous elements that come into play when it comes to creating a successful website. The colors you choose, how the page is laid out, and how things are worded are integral factors in how an individual feels, relates, and responds when visiting a website. A well seasoned, professional web designer and a strong supporting cast of writers, marketers, photographers, designers, and programmers, know what it takes to connect with any market base. They know how to get a customer to your site, make it easy for them to find what they are looking for, convey whatever message your company needs to convey, and in the end... Make a sale!
So how much should I expect to pay for a professional website?
Even if you're not actually selling online, your business should at the very least have a presence on the web so that customers, potential employees, business partners and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer. A recent article in The Houston Chronicle tackled this topic and said that "A five-page small-business site could cost as little as $500, while a five-page site for a major firm could have a $100,000 budget. The difference in budget relates to the complexity of design, cost of custom photography, motion graphics, animation and interactive tools. It is important to discuss your site within the budget realities you face. Talk about your expectations with your developer. A simple but professional website can usually be produced starting at $2,500, plus basic Web hosting."
You must understand that a great website will be tailored to work hand and hand with, and fit your business model perfectly, making it more of an extension of your business than just a marketing tool. With this being said, it would be very difficult to find a web company able to give cookie cutter pricing, but some companies will offer base pricing and you can add on the features that you need from there. At the end of the day, when you consider the value that a well designed website can add to your business, any obtainable fee may be well worth it. In today's marketplace, a website is one of the most important parts of your business. Make sure you treat it as such.

Click here to get a FREE quote for your website right now!

Written by: Larry D. Wriser, Jr of Wriser and Associates

Does My Business Really Need a Website?

Photo by Anslem Samuel |  

Q: My business is very small, and our products really can't be sold online. Do I really need a website?

A: Yes, without a doubt, if you have a business, you should have a website. Period.

First of all, there's very little that can't be sold over the internet. More than 20 million shoppers are online right now, purchasing everything; from cars, to houses, to books, to energy, to you name it. If there's something you need or want that you're willing to pay for, someone has figured out how to sell it online.
You might say, "My business is just a small operation," but when it comes to benefiting from a website, size DOES NOT matter. I don't care if you're a one-man show or a 10,000-employee corporate giant; if you don't have a website, you're losing business to other companies that do.

One of the best things about the internet is that it has leveled the playing for companies of all sizes, but you still only get one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I've seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them.

Click here to get a FREE quote for your website right now!

Written by: Larry D. Wriser, Jr of Wriser and Associates

Friday, December 14, 2012

Is the Balanced Scorecard “strategic approach” revolutionary or a fallacy?

Organizations across the world have embraced the “Balanced Scorecard” strategic planning system as a revolution in management; designed to align the day-to-day activities of an organization with its vision, to make internal and external communications more efficient, and to provide a framework for measuring performance versus strategic goals. Many incredibly respected corporations have implemented the Balanced Scorecard approach, but that does not mean it is right for your company. Before committing, it is imperative that you weigh the pros and cons.

Balanced Scorecard is used in a wide range of organizations, from non-profits to governmental agencies to titans of business and industry. According to international strategy execution/performance management expert Jeroen De Flander, 54 percent of all companies in France use the system. Created by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton in the early 1990s, it has been hailed as a system that, according to De Flander, “transforms an organization’s strategic plan from an attractive but passive document into the ‘marching orders’ for the organization on a daily basis.” It not only provides tangible measures of performance, it also helps executives determine what measurements to take, thereby helping decision makers execute strategy.

Not a cure-all
The Balanced Scorecard approach is one that has earned a great deal of respect, and is to be applauded. But, as was mentioned in a previous article on this site, it is not a magic pill for strategic management. Balanced Scorecards, as was noted before, are notoriously convoluted in terms of cascading corporate strategy from the executive level down to where “the rubber meets the road,” so to speak. The approach claims to deal with strategy, but is actually based on transactional data.

Those who embrace the Balanced Scorecard method are baffled by its lack of meaningful cascading of strategy. For example, take a construction company that has the goal of injury reduction on its corporate scorecard. If that company uses the Balanced Scorecard approach, then every department has injury reduction as a goal. That even goes for the human resources department, where the biggest injury risk might be a paper cut. And speaking of HR, if the Balanced Scorecard goal is overall cost reduction, that becomes counterintuitive because in order to meet the goal, HR costs will likely have to increase.

It’s not logical
Balanced Scorecard can often paint with such a broad brush so many of a company’s managers and employees will scoff at it, because they are being asked to measure objectives that have no bearing on them. This approach often fails to focus on how certain departments contribute to the overall direction of the business. When this occurs, logic is compromised and commitment to the approach wanes. Balanced Scorecard does not encourage open analysis and exploration of a company’s strategy, and that may be its biggest fault.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Your brand and Social Media - Five Lessons from George Takei

Your Brand and Social Media

Five Lessons from George Takei

Anyone who has tried to establish a presence for themselves or their brand on social media knows how difficult it can be.  Facebook can prove to be even more difficult.  Garnering coveted “likes” is much harder than getting people to follow you on Twitter.

One unlikely man has mastered Facebook, teaching brands a few important lessons.  George Takei, best-known as Lieutenant Sulu on Star Trek has over three million “likes” on Facebook, a number that has grown every day since he first joined the conversation on March 23, 2011.  Contrast that with his costar William Shatner, who has just over 176,000 “likes”, and it is clear that Takei has a recipe for success.

Although George Takei’s brilliant social media strategy could probably fill a book, here are five lessons that every brand should take note of:

Make your content shareable.

George Takei’s posts make people laugh and brighten their days.  With content that ranges from hilarious to geeky to adorable, Takei’s Facebook fans look forward to his posts.  They want to make their friends laugh, so they share them.  His circle of influence grows and grows.

It is tempting to always post about yourself or your business, but even your best friends and family members don’t want to hear about you all the time.  Consider Takei’s recent post “Really Bad Analogies Written by High School Students”.  Did it talk about his acting roles, his books, his life, or anything else to do with him?  No.  Did it receive 89,711 shares?  Yes.  When was the last time your content was shared 89,711 times?  Probably never.  Did his circle of influence grow?  Absolutely.

Maybe funny memes and posts don’t reflect your brand, but share things that people care about, whether it is a news story or commenting on a trending topic (in a non-abrasive way, unless, of course, that is your brand).  Just because a post is not about you does not mean that it doesn’t help you.  When you do decide to place a well-timed post about yourself or your brand, you will have a captive audience.

I don’t always self-promote, but when I do, I make it reflect my brand.

A little self-promotion now and then isn’t a bad thing.  After all, that’s the whole reason you’re on social media in the first place.  Instead of a shameless plug or a boring post, try to make your promotional posts just as shareable as the rest of your content.

A great example is George Takei’s recent post about his appearance on CBS’s Hawaii Five-0.  Instead of posting “Tune in to CBS to see my role as as Chin Ho’s uncle on Hawaii Five-0”, he posted a Dos Equis man meme that read “I don’t always watch Hawaii Five-0, but when I do, it’s because George Takei is guest starring”.  Even when plugging his appearance, he stayed true to his brand and his audience, keeping his content funny and shareable.

An informal forum doesn’t give you an excuse to slack on grammar.

George Takei hyphenates single-idea adjectives, uses commas where they belong, and generally observes the rules of good grammar.  It is professional, and people notice.  Unless you are forced to shorten something for the sake of Twitter’s 140-character rule, using abbreviations or posting without proofreading reflects poorly on your brand.

Know your audience.

Although George Takei has a huge following now, he knows his core group of fans are Trekkies and people who are interested in his role in the gay rights movement.  Many of his posts take this into account.

Create consistent brand messaging.

Takei’s catchphrase “Oh myyy!” appears all over his Facebook page, from his captions on posts to his banner.  Now, he has a line of merchandise bearing the iconic catchphrase and has titled his new book the same.

His page is so popular that despite his recent feuds with Facebook over promoted posts, Mark Zuckerberg “liked” one of his posts this week, and he has many fans within Facebook itself.  When you have a winning brand, it is impossible for people not to “like” you.

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Written by: Brittany Walters-Bearden

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere - Connecting your brand with your clients

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere
Mia Sherwood Landau

 Thinking back to the old expression – “Flattery will get you nowhere…” we might wonder if it applies to our business behavior today. Deep down inside, we don’t want to use flattery in order to be successful because it makes us uncomfortable. Flattery is not a very flattering word, even though it is simply a form of attention. And most of the time we all love attention. But what we don’t love is the kind of attention that feels fake or put-on. We don’t like to be scammed, and we certainly don’t ever want to come across as a scammer. We trash all emails that come from scammers, and we are constantly warned by our anti-virus programs and web forum administrators to avoid getting involved with scammers using flattery to get our attention and eventually our money. We want scammers to be on notice that, “Flattery will get you nowhere…” and we mean it. So, looking at what we choose to avoid can be the first step towards knowing what other people probably choose to avoid as well. And if we are looking to find and grow a target market, the best place to start is acknowledging what our people are most likely to avoid. We need to start at the rock-bottom, foundational reality in order to build our success. People will not opt-in to your list or follow your posting or give you a phone call because you are flattering them. They will only want more of whatever you are promoting if your attention is genuine and substantial. Most people want attention that solves a problem or creates a powerful feeling. What you share with others online and also in person has to ring true, and more specifically, it has to ring them personally, and often literally, right on their smart phones. Who you are, what you do and what you can do for others must be instantly accessible and imminently real. That means you have to know those three things first, of course. You have to know: 1) who you are; 2) what you do; and 3) what you can do for others. You have to be able to know and understand these three things as you want your target market to know and understand them. In other words, they have to be short and easy to remember. Let’s take a new dentist, for example. She knows that she has a degree and an office and a whole lot of debt. She knows that she works on the teeth, gums and mouths of willing patients. And she knows that she can alleviate dental pain and prevent or restore teeth so they look good and work better. Her target market doesn’t care about 1) or 2) at all. They only care about 3). They only want to alleviate their pain or to prevent pain and tooth loss in the first place, and they often need repairs just to remain functional. That is where the conversation needs to start in the minds of her prospective patients. It needs to meet them right where they are, mentally and emotionally. A new dentist might decide to blog about new toothbrushes. She might tweet some comments from her existing patients. She needs to take everything her patients tell her (and ask them if they don’t offer comments) and share those things with the world. People will tell us what they want to hear if we are listening carefully. Billboards and yellow page advertising that feature flattering photos of teeth, dental offices or dentists are no longer interesting. A target market is always thinking, “So, what can she do for me?” Our new dentist has to answer that question in all her promotional materials, and she has to do it consistently. Flattery will get us nowhere in print or electronic media. Sincere interaction, which comes about when we know who we are, we know what we do, and we know what we can do for others has definitely replaced insincerity in advertising. We cannot flatter ourselves any more than we can expect to flatter a target market and succeed. We have to say what we will do, and then do it, whenever we have the opportunity. And we have to share what others say about us online, in the media and in print. That is how we attract our target market and build our brand.

Start connecting today. Click here to get a FREE quote for your new website right now!

Mia Sherwood Landau
Wriser & Associates
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