Website Builders – Enter The Web of the Success Killers
Companies that actually offer website builder subscriptions have to know that traditional marketing and design disciplines can’t be automated. They know you need to cut corners. They know you need something easy and, let’s face it, cheap. They can’t meet your real-world needs but they can tap into your desires. So with a nice marketing campaign and testimonials from the blissful ignorant coupled with a polished presentation and they are making money while small businesses flounder around ignorantly and blissfully paying their monthly fees.
They also know that as your add your content and learn their system, you will gradually become more entangled in their system. When you leave, it will be painful as your content will have to be extracted from their proprietary system, often stripped of code and reformatted. This translates to man hours which, of course, equals money. In essence, like in the story of Briar Rabbit, the more you work at it, the more stuck you get. It’s actually a pretty brilliant business model.
I remember years ago, a friend of mine asked me to go to a conference about a new website opportunity. After we arrived and I took my seat, the presenters began their pitch. I noticed immediately they kept talking about this one particular success story relating to a guy that bought into their program and started selling wheat grass kits. The web evangelists bragged about how he was selling 10k a month in wheat grass kits. They painted the picture of this guy sitting at the beach selling these kits drinking margaritas and cashing checks. They even said that your website can be on the top of Google in a matter of days!
They, of course, meant paid ads could get them to the top of Google and were not referring to the coveted SEO placement. No one there realized the paid ad investment would be hundreds, if not, thousands in recurring fees. And no one considered if this was the only success story. The desperate gobbled these packages up like piranhas. They wanted the success. The blinders were firmly applied to the attendees by a large professional corporation with a perfectly polished sales team. They sold the illusion of success that was easy and quick.
I spent the next hours poking holes in the program with my friend, but he kept coming back with, “but what if it works for me?” You know the same little voice that convinces you to buy that lottery ticket because maybe just maybe you can win this time. Well that same voice was tugging at his common sense. Eventually, I was able to talk him off the ledge.
Month’s later, “rip-off” complaints were popping up all over the web about this well funded, slickly presented program. People felt deceived and the only ones that made money were the people selling the system. They weren’t concerned with the individual’s success. They wanted to sell their services at any cost. Bait and switch and offering the path of least resistance were their tools and boy did it work.
The most fundamental common sense question in this scenario was never asked. “If this system is so good at selling anything and making tons of money, why didn’t this organization just build these sites for itself?” I mean that would eliminate a traveling sales team, the stress of dealing with the general public, and streamline AR/AP. The reason of course, is it doesn’t work most of the time.
Welcome to website builders. They know you and the little voices that drive your thoughts. They are good at it. They know the small business market wants a cheap solution, so they build these programs knowing your success will be non-existent, but that is not their concern. They are out to create residual income. They know you will probably not track the actual success of your website and a certain percentage will assume website builders are working for their business regardless of how they perform.
I don’t blame them. They are just responding to what a market is demanding. Small businesses are not demanding success, they want a cost-effective solution that offers a little impact on their limited resources and above all, easy.
These small businesses are saying, “I am willing to pay to fail as long as it don’t cost too much.”
But again, it all comes down to one simple premise: If website builders worked, then everyone would do it. But instead of them working, they are more of an evolutionary step for small businesses. They are the “cheap and ineffective” step. The old adage, pay me a little now or a lot later is definitely applicable.
My advise is to avoid website builders 100% of the time. There is NEVER a case where a website builder system is the right move. You are learning a system that is proprietary (can’t be used elsewhere), doomed to not work from a properly configured perspective, and your content will be landlocked: making it expensive to move later. Website builders can’t incorporate key marketing and design concepts consistently and offer a generic, disjointed design. Often odd spaces and strange layout elements also hallmark these systems. They can’t provide what the professional marketing, design, and development community have learned over the years.
Your business is unique in its offering, location, and position within the market for which you are competing. You need to combine your expertise with a professional’s to help bring those aspects out for your business. In twenty years, I have never run across any two businesses that are the same. So how could a service offer a one size fits all solution? The simple answer is, they can’t.
Remember, the only thing a potential customer sees when looking at your business on the web is your online presentation (most cases your website). They don’t see your building or your employees, they judge you based upon your website. This is too important to trust a generic service. If you are a one man show or a small business with employees, conveying the right overall presentation is critical. It’s too easy to hit the back button on a browser and go somewhere else.
You will never polish a website builder enough to look professional and unique, so don’t try. This website builder technology is a good business model for the people that own the website builders, but not for you. I realize some will not heed this warning and that’s good for those of you that do listen.
It means your competitors will spend their hard earned dollars running in circles and wasting time trying to make something work that is hopeless. They will get tangled in the mire of landlocked information that is painful to move. This translates to more consumers for your company. Take advantage of their natural instinct for cheap and easy. Fight the urge in your own efforts. As you grow, it will be more difficult for them to catch-up.
In closing, I want to share a story of a local non-profit to which I offered some consultation services. In the end, they went with a popular website builder against my recommendation. A couple of weeks ago at church, my contact told me how they are “getting around” in the website builder and when they have a hang up or a limitation, they change their strategy to accommodate the software. I went back home that day and looked a look at the site. The concepts and ideas that were brainstormed in the meeting were forced into an archaic, disjointed theme. The images are small, there are odd spaces throughout the design, a strange background looms behind theme, and the colors are ineffective. Its disappointing because they not only have a poor solution, but they’re also getting more stuck with the more work they put into it.
They have tons of images, content, and events, that can cost thousands more if they finally wake up to an effective solution. But like many others, they are following the Sirens of “cheap” and “easy” and hurting their potential to reach more people and having a broader outreach.