How Much Should I Pay for a Website & Don't buy the $187 chair

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5 MIN
September 02, 2016

How Much Should I Pay for a Website & Don't buy the $187 chair

Reuven Goodman  is a friend, a client, and someone who shares business and life wisdom with me from time to time.  He runs a successful office furniture company in Baltimore, MD, and I thought a 360 degree video might of some of his company's projects might generate some buzz.  

If you haven't seen 360 degree video yet, click on this link on your smart phone.  Next move the phone around the room as if you were looking through a pair of binoculars instead of a standard smart phone screen. You're welcome.  It's amazing, and it's "the next big thing". I'll embed the video at the bottom of this blog post, but first I want to share Reuven's point.

Pay Enough to Get the Quality Version of What You Want

I told Reuven "I'm hoping to buy a camera to record 360 video like this for Purgistics [Reuven's company]".  I told him "The video probably won't be as good as the one we watched together, but I think it will be good enough to generate some buzz."  

He looked puzzled. "Why won't it be as good?" he asked.

"Well, I'm looking into buying a camera that costs about $400. I think the cameras used for the video we watched was probably closer to $5,000", I said.

"So, why don't you buy to more expensive one?"

I was a little struck and said, "Well, I don't really have that kind of budget."

"Just make sure you're past the threshold.  You know, when you buy an office chair and you spend $200 you're in the right price range.  If you're paying between $200 and $400 you're getting a good chair. If you're paying less than $200, you're getting a piece of junk.  Don't be the guy paying $187 for a piece of junk, when the threshold is $200."

I thought this was such a great point and is so true for websites and marketing and really just about anything you buy or earn.  You don't always get just what you pay for, but there is usually a threshold you have to pass in order to get quality instead of junk.  A cheap chair will probably do the job of a cheap chair, but it's probably not what you want.  You probably want a chair that will support your body well and will last long enough to feel like it was worth what you paid.  And therein lies the rub: $187 is not enough to get a quality chair.  It's enough to get a cheap chair, and that's what you'll get.  Sometimes you need a place to sit for a while, and a cheap chair is good enough.  But most of the time you want more than a place to sit.  

Your Website Can be Your Lowest Paid and Highest Performing Employee

Your website does a job. In most cases, it does the 21st century version of answering the door when someone knocks.  When someone comes to the door of your virtual business, your website is the face they will see.  Is it good to have a handsome well-organized person to answer your door? Of course.  Is that what you should be aiming for when you buy a website?  It depends.  

I think it is good to think of your website like any of your other employees: do you create a position in your company just because your competitors have someone else with that title?  Maybe, but you will probably want to know how your best competitors are using that person.  How do they measure success for a person in that position?  In other words, what do you want your website to do for your business?

After you know what you want your website to do for your business, you're ready to ask how much it's worth.  Before you begin hiring a new employee, you ask how much additional revenue the company will generate as a result of this new hire.  You should ask the same question about your website: how much is it worth to my business for my website to perform the job I want it to perfom?

How Much Should I Pay for a Website?

If you are like most businesses, your websites should be a marketing tool. It should be a way to get new customers in the door and show well on Google and help close new deals. If your website's job is to help you get new customers, then your budget for your website should be defined by three things:

  1. How much is a new customer worth to your business over the lifetime of that relationship?
  2. How much does it cost you right now to get a new customer
    / How much cheaper will it be to get a new customer after I have this website?
  3. How many new customers do you need to get to make this expense worthwhile?

In my opinion, the cost of your website / internet marketing should be able to be recouped with new customer acquisition in 12 months.  You should be able to get enough new customers in 12 months or see enough reduction in your cost of customer acquisition that the investment pays for itself in 12 months.  This can sometimes be stretched to 24 months, but I doubt it should be stretched any longer.  

Once you have some idea of your website's job and how much it is worth to you, it is time to look at the books.  How much website can you afford?  Can you get beyond the threshold of value for what you want your website to be?

Can I Afford the Website I Really Want?

You probably can afford "a website", "a mobile friendly website" or "a website that allows you to blog".  You can usually find someone on Freelancer.com or Fiverr.com to build a website for between $5 and $250.  And they will may even do a decent job.  But if your website's job is to bring you new business, it will probably  need the budget and time required to understand how your business gets new clients. Then it will need the expertise to understand how the process of getting you new clients can be automated and how the tools of email marketing, internet marketing, and social media marketing can make that process cheaper and more effective.  

Conclusion

Your website should have a job to do, just like every other employee in your company.  Know what that job is worth to your company, and base the budget for your website on the value the website should have.  If you don't know your website's job, you are likely to be underpaying or overpaying for what will be delivered.  Unless you are clear about your website's job and what that job is worth to your company, you will probably  get something that is below the threshold of good quality or a luxury product that may or may not do what your business needs.  

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