We at Hinge are faced with the same monetary quandaries that trouble our clients. So, as we contemplated the development of our new website, we asked ourselves the familiar question, “How much should we spend?”
We develop websites every day for some of the most sophisticated professional services firms in the world. We are thoroughly familiar with the strategy, design and technology of high performing B2B websites. So, the answer should have been easy, right?
Hinge develops stellar websites at every price point. We knew we could streamline our own processes, save a bundle, and still come up with a great looking, high-performing website. But then we realized we were falling victim to the same thinking of many of our clients as they embark on a website project. We were looking to minimize cost rather than maximize value and quality. In other words, we were thinking about short-term spending over long-term functionality.
It’s a common pitfall that leads to tragically flawed web strategies. Such thinking is based on the belief that website costs—although necessary—should be limited. Spend what you must to get an acceptable B2B website, but no more.
When we stopped to consider what we actually needed from our website, we adopted another—better—perspective.
Let’s walk through our thinking to see how we got there.
The rationale behind a new website
Redoing a website is a big investment of both time and money, so you should be clear about your reasons for revamping.
Our website was not “broken.” The basic design had been around for a few years, and we regularly and frequently updated it. It featured a mobile friendly, responsive design, a new blog, and several updated sections. More importantly it had been the hub of a very robust online presence.
In fact, it had been the source of more than 80% of new business and had driven rapid growth for more than 5 years. As web traffic increased, revenue increased. The return on investment (ROI) was enviable.
Still, there were important limitations to overcome. The design was a bit dated. Newer technology offered the promise of greater flexibility and lower maintenance effort. And testing of new configurations could be easier. We also felt there were important opportunities to improve user experience.
But it all came down to one key point: We had changed.
Like many professional services firms, we had evolved to compete in a shifting marketplace. We were offering new, more sophisticated services to larger firms. We were also preparing to launch Hinge University.
In the space of only a few years, we had become a different firm with expanded expertise and more sophisticated prospects. Thus, we needed a website that was more relevant and could take full advantage of the opportunities available to us.
Looking at our situation in this new light, we realized we had been asking the wrong question. The question we needed to ask was, “How much can we productively spend?”
Think of it this way: If you generate $20 for every $1 you invest, you will want to invest as much as you possibly can. The limiting factor is more about when incremental investment no longer generates a positive return.
Because of our understanding of professional services marketing and the website developmental process, we realized there were steps we could take that could incrementally improve the initial performance of the website and make ongoing optimization easier and more effective.
The courage to act
It does take courage to follow this path. You have to trust that incremental investment will continue to produce a favorable return. You also have to trust that the folks applying that investment know what they are doing so it isn’t squandered.
In that regard we had an advantage. Given we do so much research on B2B professional services marketing, we were acutely aware of the very real return that a well conceived website can offer.
Of course a lot of companies don’t have the same built-in advantages of Hinge. So it is not surprising most are drawn to a more conservative approach: Reduce the risk by spending less. Perhaps you forgo research, limit design time, and write the copy yourself.
Great, you saved a few thousand dollars. But what have you lost?
Again, we go to our research. We know that more than 80% of prospective clients will check out your website. We also know that more than 50% of people referred to a professional services firm will rule out that provider before even talking to them. Why? Most often it has to do with otherwise fixable website problems.
How many new clients do you need to lose before the dollars you saved on a new website start to feel like a liability?
Planning your B2B website budget
Most firms have only a vague notion of what an appropriate budget might be. They tend to think only about the direct expenses. They overlook the value of research and message development, for example. How can you find the right balance?
We did a little analysis for our budget. First we calculated how much we would have spent in a “minimize the spend” scenario. We then looked at what we would spend in our adopted “spend as much as you productively can” scenario.
The difference was tenfold. In other words, we would be spending 10 times the minimum—what we would have spent under a “minimize the cost” scenario.
To apply this to your website budget, you would first need to estimate your minimum. Think low bidder or the ever popular, “I have a friend who will give us a deal” scenario. You can probably safely spend 3–5 times that lowball figure before you run any danger of over investing.
A final thought
Remember, it’s not just about a website. It is about marketing your professional services. If you don’t understand that, the danger of waste increases dramatically.
As with most of professional services, you get better results and solutions when talented people spend time on a problem. There is never a substitute for working with someone who really knows what they are doing. For the new Hinge website, that meant reaching out to the Hinge experts in project management, online strategy, SEO, social media and other lead-nurturing strategies.
If you find a firm that truly understands this relationship, you will find that your investment in your B2B website—no matter what the budget—will pay off handsomely.
Here’s the link to Hinge’s new website again.
- Our Lead Generating Website Guide details how your firm can generate qualified leads with its website.
- Get a copy of our Online Marketing for Professional Services book to learn techniques that will generate more leads and increase awareness of your firm.
- Watch and download the slides of our recent webinar, How to Build the Perfect Professional Services Website, to get started on your own website redesign.
How Hinge Can Help
Your B2B website should be one of your firm’s greatest assets. Our High Performance Website Program helps firms drive online engagement and leads through valuable content. Hinge can create the right website strategy and design to take your firm to the next level.