Marketing a New Business: Small Business Owners Need Help Understanding Where to Start
Our marketing services group has been fortunate to help quite a few small businesses and solopreneurs realize their dream of opening a business or, in several cases this year, reinvent their business.
Each one of these clients has a unique story. Several are career professionals who are continuing to hold down their current job until their new business finds its footing. Another is a middle-aged couple who purchased a thriving business from an “old school” colleague who retired. A handful are in the highly competitive building trades and needed an online presence to attract new clients. And a number are individuals who’ve had to completely transform their services due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Common Challenges for New Business Owners
Though their business models and industries all differ, these owners had many of the same challenges in common as they were getting started.
They know they need to be “online” but aren’t quite sure what that means on a practical level. Is that just a website? Do they have to be on every social media channel? What about mobile apps?
They know they should be doing “something with SEO” but are unclear about what that even is.
They know their services inside and out but oftentimes don’t consider themselves “good writers” and need help putting their ideas into words.
They know they need a website but have the impression that getting one developed will cost at least $5,000 and probably double that.
They are a little unclear on the difference between a domain name, web hosting and a web platform. The concept of “the cloud” is sometimes foreign to them.
They think they might have to hire a web designer for the website, a copywriter to do writing for the site and other sales materials, a social media person to run their social channels, and a graphic designer to “make it pretty.” And, given all these functions, they’re not sure which type of professional they should start with, let alone how they’ll pay for it all.
And, inevitably, they’ve been contacted by every SEO firm, web hosting company, and business development consultant under the sun, all promising them fantastic, quick results, usually for a hefty price tag.
If any of these perspectives sounds familiar, you are most certainly not alone. The digital marketing landscape is complex and ever-changing. It’s perfectly normal to feel a bit confused and unsure where to begin.
How Much Should a New Website Cost?
Since so many of the uncertainties above center around website development, we’re here to let you in on a little secret: websites don’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
Let’s start with web hosting. Hosting companies are a dime a dozen, but we recommend you go with one of the standard bearers simply because they tend to work with largest range of providers and technologies. Our favorite is Wix, in part because we also use the Wix web platform to create websites. Hosting for a typical business runs about $220 a year, but since they run specials frequently, you can usually get the first year for about half that.
Regarding domain names, most existing businesses already have one so it’s simply a matter of transferring it to the newly designed site. A new domain name – unless there’s stiff competition for a particular name – runs about $15 a year. Unless you have a lot of competition or companies with similar names as yours, you really don’t need much more than a .com, which is still considered the “go to” domain name extension. You can make your ownership of the domain name private for an added fee, but it’s not necessary.
WordPress used to be the standard platform for web design, but in our opinion, it has become too cumbersome with all the associated plug-ins and updates that are required. While there are other good web platforms out there, our preferred one, as we mentioned earlier, is Wix. There is no additional cost to use the platform aside from the hosting and domain name. In fact, you can even host a free site on Wix, but you won’t be able to link it to a domain and it will have the Wix advertising on it.
The biggest ticket item in launching a new website is the creation and design of it. Here’s where it really pays to shop around. Some marketing agencies will give you an estimate based on having multiple people within their group work on it, i.e., a writer, a graphic designer, an SEO strategist and a web developer. Then, there’s the time required for these professionals to collaborate together as well as check-in regularly with you, the client. We’ve been on the receiving end of proposals from these larger marketing firms, and the going web development rate is around $10,000 - $12,000.
Others, like us at McCall Marketing, have a single point person (usually me, Meg McCall) work with you, the client, to manage all these functions. The key is to have confidence that the person(s) is well-versed in all the necessary areas, which is generally only possible if the person has worked directly in these fields in his or her career in additional to having education and training in them. If you can find that sweet spot, you get someone who can artfully blend the written word with both strategy and design to create a beautiful, effective website for you. At our boutique marketing firm, we create gorgeous websites for small businesses (roughly defined as anywhere from 1 to 10 people) for anywhere from $1,000 to $4000, depending on the scope of the site.
Are there times when a website will be legitimately more expensive? Of course. If the site requires integration with some sort of dynamic database or other software tools, it will require more time to configure. But the reality is that for most small businesses, this is the exception, not the rule. Wix, for instance, has dozens of features that incorporate seamlessly into their websites, including lead generation forms, automated emails, FAQs, video and much, much more – all at no extra cost.
Schedule a Call with Us
If you are a small business owner and any of scenarios above sounds familiar, we are here to help walk you through it. As the principal at McCall Marketing, I (Meg) really try to hone it down to the basic “why, how much and what to expect” for clients so they know exactly why I’m recommending any one specific strategy over another, how much it will cost, and what they can reasonably expect in return.
I work with you to understand your needs, what you’re trying to accomplish and what your dreams are for a website or any other of your marketing assets. We start with the most important strategies and, if desired, build others over time, when it makes sense and as the business grows.
We welcome you to reach out to us to talk about your specific situation and whether we can help you achieve your goals, quickly and affordably.