By: Kimberly McCormick – Bayshore Solutions’ Director of Corporate Marketing
In my role at Bayshore Solutions, I am very familiar with the inquiries we receive about our web services. The golden question at the core of every person’s inquiry is, “How much?”
From my own experience in sourcing solutions for the company’s corporate marketing needs, I am extremely empathetic to an inquiring businessperson’s frustrated desire to just get a straight answer to cost, and the instinctual approach to line up vendors A, B & C on a spreadsheet, compare packages and costs, then present the best, most cost-effective option to the C-Levels for approval. Unfortunately (and I have learned this the hard way) “cost-effective” and “low cost” are two very different things in the market for technology services.
A pennywise digital marketing decision based on a spreadsheet vendor analysis often shortchanges business results. There is so much more to the question than most are aware, and these complexities absolutely determine the right answer to, “How much does Internet Marketing cost?” for your business.
When I address questions on our pricing for Internet marketing services, I find that I am often explaining “Why”: why our pricing is not $X99. per month or less, and why I can’t give them an exact price without a deeper discovery conversation with one of our internet experts. The recurring points that I find myself educating people about are:
- The breadth and depth of “Internet marketing” services
- Custom vs. Package
- The “Team” of experts and (not “or”) a dedicated digital marketer
- The nature and efficiencies of an integrated web agency
- A “Partner” versus “Vendor” methodology
- The “Unspoken Deliverables” – what you might not think to ask for
What’s Involved in “Internet Marketing” Services
The first thing everyone needs to get crystal clear on is what exactly is meant by “Internet marketing.” Some of the distinct types of services contained in this umbrella term include:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization);
- Search marketing;
- Paid Search (Pay-Per-Click and online advertising);
- Local search visibility marketing;
- Mobile optimization and marketing
- Social Media strategy marketing, optimization, engagement and even advertising;
- Content development and marketing;
- Conversion optimization;
- Email, SMS, and other digital marketing channel strategies and campaigns;
- Integrated campaigns and marketing across both online and offline channels
Distinct expertise and tactical skills apply to each marketing tool in this toolbox — and that technology tool set is constantly changing and evolving. I have often heard our executives acknowledge that in the services industry, “Inventory” is brain-power and time. Competence and proven effectiveness in wielding these tools has value, and an investment cost.
Why Custom vs. Package
Which internet marketing tactics work best with your specific business strategy, model and market? How might they combine to drive even better results? Are these answers the same six – 12 – 24 months from now?
Prospective customers won’t find a “package” for any of our web services because we scope and quote custom to the specific business’s needs. The goal is to apply the correct combination of online marketing tools to drive more results and return on a client’s marketing investment – and this strategic blend is unique to every business. So services are tailored to each customer.
While this does make discovery conversations longer, the business outcomes are dramatically better.
Both A Dedicated Digital Marketer & A Team of Experts
Digital marketing is a technical and ever-changing skill. Who is actually doing the work matters to achieving your best Internet marketing results. Each e-marketer at Bayshore Solutions is required to exceed rigorous benchmarks for technical capability at continuing points along their career path and to contribute as subject matter experts in the evolving aspects of internet marketing. Team members are sent to every major industry conference and training program in order to bring the most current and best performing practices to our client’s online marketing.
Each internet marketer is a full-time employee at our Tampa or Denver office (as opposed to anywhere offshore or on a tenuous freelance arrangement). Further, each is dedicated to and accountable to the success of their specific clients. Formal reporting on tactical progress and strategic recommendations occurs every 30 days. Also, a main component of performance evaluations and promotion criteria is positive reviews by their customers.
I have the privilege of sitting in a weekly best-practices and cross-learning session with the team of internet marketers at Bayshore Solutions. When I encounter a digital marketing challenge I am consistently impressed and appreciative of the tribal knowledge that this team develops, applies to their customers and helps me with. It is literally having 60 combined years of web marketing experience across 75 plus industries at your fingertips. I doubt that a siloed, in-house marketer could effectively access and apply this breadth and depth of expertise to a business’s ongoing marketing challenges for a similar investment cost.
Integrated Digital Agency = Everyone’s on the Same Web Page
A customer’s “Team” also extends to the web expertise of designers, developers and project managers. The entire team is assigned to a customer and their success is dependent on the client’s success.
When building websites for customers, the internet marketers consult with the design and development experts to ensure they are aware of and plan for the next step of marketing the site and driving business with it after it is launched. So it is built with the end in mind.
I have seen many “beautiful” web designs that are effectively impossible to market in today’s digital world, due to myopic design and build decisions. Clients often come to us to rebuild such websites and fix these problems.
Digital marketing is very technical in nature, and often involves code-level tasks and live site updates. With technical, marketing and website hosting teams that are integrated both physically (located together) and philosophically (everyone focused on the customers best outcome), efficiencies and throughput for building as well as the ongoing marketing of a business’s website are streamlined and cost-effective.
A “Partner” (vs. “Vendor”) Focused on Your Growth Results
The main reason I am unable to cite generic prices for our internet marketing services is the core approach we take to every potential customer. The discovery process we use creates a “partner” perspective on goals, desired outcomes, and the specific business situation at hand. This also enables the best recommendations for solutions — and accurate price quotes for those solutions.
We develop relationships with customers where we can help grow their business with ongoing, integrated technology and marketing expertise. This just isn’t accomplished with a “Package A at $X99.” mindset.
What You Might Not Even Think to Ask About – The “Unspoken” Deliverables
I have learned that many of the things Bayshore Solutions delivers to our customers as an “of course” from our perspective, are neither mentioned nor a “given” by many web services businesses.
One of these is the source code and intellectual property surrounding your website and its online marketing campaigns. Who owns this when the services are delivered? Our answer is, “You do.” It is frustrating and upsetting for a business to find that such campaign assets aren’t owned and controlled by the brand marketing them. We don’t do business like that, and unfortunately this is not the norm among agencies.
An item you might not think to ask about when shopping for online marketing services is if the web services company you buy from carries insurance that protects its customers, thus lowering their investment risk. We do.
Another “intangible” is the investment made in creating a workplace worthy of receiving our recent listing in Tampa Bay Times’ “Best Places to Work” roster that evaluates identity-protected employee survey responses to qualify a company for inclusion. This speaks to providing the infrastructure, education, culture and communication that attracts and keeps quality team members. This focus gives peace of mind that your Internet partners will remain not only at the top of their craft, but familiar with your projects and business as your future Internet marketing needs evolve.
One thing I have learned in corporate and digital marketing: the right internet marketing and web strategy is a pivotal business investment decision – one that requires a true partner who is focused on your specific business success. So the answer to, “How much does Internet marketing cost?“ is literally, “It depends” — on your specific business goals & needs, what strategies are most appropriate to achieve them, and what level of expertise you want to engage in reaching them.
Bayshore Solutions’ Web Methodology was developed to guide our client-partnerships to create consistent web success – and our 17 year award-winning track record of delivering customer growth is the proof in the pudding.
If you’re looking for such a power partnership with your web marketing, contact us and I’ll connect you with the right expert on our team to uncover the right internet marketing solutions to grow your business.
Kimberly McCormick is the Director of Corporate Marketing at Bayshore Solutions Web Design, Web Development, and Internet Marketing Company.