Apples and Oranges: Things to consider when getting a quote

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If you are in the marketing profession, I’m sure you’ve heard this before. You meet with a prospect and talk about their needs. More often than not, they have a laundry list of things they need in order to launch or re-launch their brand. Things are going well and you have a good understanding of what they are looking for. You submit a quote and wait for a response back. And then it happens a of couple weeks later: the client comes back and simply says “your price is way out of the ballpark. I had another person come back and give me a price half of what you quoted.”

You: “Okay, that’s great! May I also ask if there was another reason you chose the other company besides the price?”

Client: “No.”

Red flag alert. If you are going to hire a company or a freelancer to work for your business, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. We each have our strengths. Though most of us consider ourselves experts, there are definitely things that other businesses do better than some and vice versa. It’s just how it works. If you are a client that’s truly passionate about the business you are building, there needs to be more to the selection process besides price. Sure, price is important when you are on a budget, but that doesn’t mean just because someone quoted you a higher or lower price that they are offering the same exact thing.

Here are some things to consider when hiring a designer or company to work with:

1. Their expertise. Where does their expertise lie? If they are only a developer, expect that they are thinking with a different mind-set, than say someone with a marketing background. Developers are all about the technical side of things. How does this website work? If you click here, it takes you here, this widget goes in the footer, etc… That is how developers work. A designer, on the other hand, will think about different things. Who is your audience and who will this website serve? What does the content say? How will this website be primarily used? Could we put a call to action on the homepage?

Think about it as designer verses developer. Do you know exactly what you need and you just need the magic code to make it happen? If the answer is yes, then you need a developer. Are you not exactly sure what you want and need some guidance on the right direction for your business? Then you need someone who does marketing and design.

2. Their education. Unfortunately, owning a computer and Adobe Creative Suite seems to give everyone an equal playing field on the label “designer”, “web developer” and “marketer”. But those who work in the industry and have an eduction specifically to design, marketing and development know what it takes to help a business grow. It’s not just about design and having a website. If you are hiring your cousin’s best friend who makes logos on the side, you can probably expect a lower price point. If you are hiring someone who’s been in the industry and has the experience, you can expect to shell out some more cash.  Exactly where the term “you get what you pay for” comes from.

3. What does the quote include? Just because someone quoted you that amazing price of $500 for a website, does not mean it’s really a great deal. When you get the quote, here are some things to ask:

Does this price include the developer/designer putting in the content?
How many hours of support does this include?
How many hours of consulting does this include?
What are your hours of operation and how can I get a hold of you if I have questions?
Will you provide the designs of the website or do I need to design it myself?
What is the cost of hosting and buying a domain name?
Will you be setting up email?
What is the time frame from start to finish?
Will google analytics be installed?
Will you be optimizing SEO?
Will you provide training on how I can update my website?
Will I need to come to you for updating my website or can I do it myself?
What happens after the website is complete?
Will you still help me if I have problems after my website is launched?
Are there any other fees involved?

These are extremely important questions to ask from the very beginning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a business come to me and say that they’ve had issues with their designer after their website was launched. Even more scary, they had problems WHILE it was being developed, but just wanted the process over with.

4. Lay out the expectations from the beginning and execute a contract. There could be many things that are said during the initial meeting. You both meet and get this warm and fuzzy feeling… you are excited because you finally are getting the design and strategic plans you have always wanted. The designer or developer is excited because they are happy to have landed a new client. There is love all around! But this warm and fuzzy feeling can fade very quickly soon after the project begins. The person you are working with can go AWOL without notice, who was providing what becomes blurry, the timeframe is taking much longer than originally stated, phone calls and emails aren’t being returned, you get a pit in your stomach when their phone number comes up on your caller-id, etc… To avoid these unpleasant nuances, be sure you are provided with a contract outlining the services being provided and what you are responsible for.

5. Decide to make the investment or not. If you really want your business to grow and are serious about getting only the best, you will need to make the investment. If you don’t have the money upfront, save for it. You can also ask for a payment plan or inquire about monthly retainer options.

6. What value will it bring working together? This is probably one of the things that is accounted for the least, if it’s even considered at all, but can really be the determining factor of the true value. Is there a benefit to working with this person or company? Can this turn into a referral/networking relationship? Does this person have the network to bring you business after the initial phase is done? Can you bring them more business? Thinking about the business relationship beyond the surface can really bring value in determining whether you work with someone or not.

Taking your business to the next level is a very exciting time. Just be sure that when you are meeting with different companies to work with, you know the right questions to ask. I would hate to see anyone go through an unpleasant experience when it could possibly have been prevented if all expectations were laid out on the table, the right questions were asked and a contract was executed.

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