Today I saw a proposal from a market competitor of K2M Creative Media. A friend shared it with me, knowing that because of the many complicated layers of friendships between me and her company, I wouldn’t bid for her firm’s website build, but that I’d give an honest and educated opinion. Well folks…we’re apparently living in the Wild West. I thought things were more under control, but if what I saw today is any indication, I was dead wrong.
Marketing quotes/bids ought not to be part of a game of smoke and mirrors. I remember when I was a little girl my mother wanted my father to come along to the car mechanic with her. She was pretty certain that if she went alone, she’d get a hiked price, or be sold repairs she didn’t know she didn’t need. It seems that marketing and web design (and other online services for that matter) put consumers in a similar situation. Because they are a commodity that can be made to seem mysterious, they can be vastly inflated in terms of price.
Here’s the thing…when you go to the doctor and you need surgery, s/he can tell you and show you exactly what they are going to do to you….and your bill can be itemized. In fact I have witnessed even the most complicated neurological medical information being explained to laypeople. This happens in court cases, for example, all of the time—something unique, complicated and/or exceptional gets explained in terms that any regular person can understand. Your marketing agency should be able to do the same thing for you.
In a website build, there are elements in a bid that are “tangible” parts of the process and there are those that are less so. Consider the difference between designing the sitemap of the website (what the “layout” and flow should be) versus the concept of the user experience (what the user of the site should feel when they are on the website—welcomed, excited about many choices, educated about the content, etc.) It is easy to see and/or understand the process and result of creating a sitemap, but the process and result of conceptualizing a user experience can be difficult to see. So much of it happens in the creative process of the expert/marketer/designer.
This kind of creative time and thought is truly hard to “show” but may be the most important part of some bids. In fact, it can be the most expensive part of a bid as well and rightly so—if the creative expertise were not needed, everyone could just do all of their own marketing equally well (and there’d be no Super Bowl commercials!)
However, there should never be a bid that is unintelligible to a consumer. Jargon and fancy fake fluffy words don’t belong in a quote without explanation.
The bid I saw was for thousands and thousands of dollars for nothing. The quote was broken down with charges for the most ridiculous parts of the process so as to justify the expense. It would be the equivalent of my charging not only to write a blog for someone, but also for clicking “save” at the end.
Don’t be afraid to ask the company that is pitching you to explain every detail of the fees. I’m not suggesting that the price will necessarily go down—brain power may cost you. But at least you’ll know what you’re paying for. And if the company can’t explain it to you—dollar by dollar, then know you’re being taken for a ride.
And since it’s my soap box and I’m harping on this quote I saw…if the web development company, or marketing company quotes you for SEO, or other things that help you get found online, but you can’t find them online…well, just turn and run the other way!