Website Leasing – A marketing model not ideal for Small Business
Every business owner has very likely dealt with the same exact problem; you’re busy running your business but now you need to get a website and find a way to advertise it. Let’ face it, it’s a pain. There are so many different options, so many different vendors, and so many different decisions that you need to make that are frankly unrelated to your speciality. On top of that, the pricing ranges from free all the way to tens of thousands of dollars.
What is a domain name, wordpress or hosting? What on earth is HTML? Let’s not even get started on the confusion behind what is search engine optimization and Google Adwords. As such, agencies and service providers have attempted to simplify the process for small business owners. They do this by offering bundled services, such as a website, domain and hosting all included in one (ex. ‘A website package’).
There’s really nothing wrong with offering bundled services, we tend to do it ourselves. However, when marketing agencies offer services that include a website that you ultimately don’t own, that’s a different story. Having noted that creating a website is both costly and confusing, some digital marketing firms, such was Yodle or Web.com, also retain ownership of those websites and domain name. Why do this?
By offering a simple package: domain, website, hosting and marketing services, the goal is that you as the business owner don’t have to think about anything except results. This is great, but at the end of the day you’re essentially leasing your entire web presence. You lease the domain (www.yourname.com), the creative design, content, the phone numbers and contact information. This can be all well and good, as long as you’re paying your monthly fee.
The benefits of having this kind of service is that the agency has full control (and flexibility) in making sure that site ranks well and gets business. They don’t have to deal with third party developers and potential roadblocks in design and implementation. By also owning the phone numbers, they’re able to track all your conversions and provide you with more accurate ROI. However, let’s assume after a few months (or years), you decide you want to discontinue services. At this point, you may have listings across the web with all this information. Your business cards and marketing material could mention your established website. However, as soon as you cancel your services (which can range from $300-$1500+), that information is no longer yours (unless you pay a hefty fee to ‘buy them’). From our experience, this kind of business model keeps many small business owners ‘trapped’ in contracts since they feel losing all their online presence. It’s great for the agency, but bad for you.
Everything those all-in-one packages do can also be done with your own website. Many design firms help you along the entire complicated process. This is why we only provide options where anything we create is yours, including phone numbers we can switch and track. Whether that’s content, images, infographics, websites, etc, all those things are yours to take whether you continue with us or not.
At the end of the day, it’s about priorities. Maybe this simple style of model works for many business owners (as is shown by the number of clients retained by these marketing giants), however, we don’t recommend it. It’s best to invest up front on a good website, content and name, and retain ownership of your brand.